While working at a children’s camp a few summers ago, I had the opportunity to encourage a boy who was surprisingly full of questions about Jesus and the gospel. It was an opportunity that most camp counselors dream about. As I began to field questions about the significance of Jesus’ death, divinity, humanity, and his gift of salvation, the Lord did something that felt almost miraculous—He reminded me of the exact Scriptures that were needed to minister to this young boy.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Jesus himself explains that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). At that moment, the Spirit called to my remembrance the Scriptures that had been buried in my heart and allowed me to effectively witness to this young boy.
The Holy Spirit Helps Us Memorize Scripture
When people think about memorizing Scripture, they often think of the burdensome Scripture memory challenges that they endured in Sunday school. Some feel overwhelmed by their lack of biblical knowledge. Many may even feel like such an endeavor would be fruitless because of their poor memory or other challenging predispositions.
The Spirit of God has promised to aid us in the remembrance of his Word.
However, the Lord calls us to store up his Word in our hearts––not as merely an intellectual exercise, but as an act of worship. We must recognize that, unlike the memorization of our multiplication tables in elementary school, the Spirit of God has promised to aid us in the remembrance of his Word. While we may be intimidated by Scripture memory, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts as we treasure his Word.
Scripture Memorization Has Inward and Outward Effects
While there are many reasons for Scripture memorization, storing the Bible in our hearts and minds has both an inward and outward effect. Many rightly emphasize the inward effects of Scripture memorization, dealing with personal spiritual development. The Psalmist of Psalm 119:11 explains that he has treasured the Word of God in his heart so that he might not sin against God. Jesus himself quotes memorized Scriptures to combat the temptations of the evil one (Matthew 4:1–11). When we know the Scriptures, we are empowered to combat sin and walk in righteousness.
But memorizing Scripture has an outward effect too. When we can recall memorized Scripture during evangelistic conversations, our witness is greatly strengthened. When we memorize the Word, we are able to nurture our own hearts and become significantly more effective ministers of the gospel–– in our evangelism and ministry amongst believers.
When we can recall memorized Scripture during evangelistic conversations, our witness is greatly strengthened.
Develop a Plan
Prayer is a great starting place when working to memorize Scripture. Ask the Lord to lead you to the specific passages that he wants to use to minister to your heart. As you do so, compile a list of some passages you think would be fruitful to memorize. Ask the Lord to meet you in the act of memorizing Scripture so that the Spirit aids you in remembering God’s Word. Pray that the Lord would instill in you a longing for his Word that would produce discipline in your heart.
As with any long-term endeavor, making a game plan for your memorization of the Word is wise. Will you spend 10 minutes a day reviewing a certain passage? Will you listen to a specific passage on repeat during your commute to work? Will you set aside Monday mornings to meet with an accountability partner to discuss your progress?
The game plan might look different for each person, but the end goal is the same: growth in Christlikeness through God’s Word. As you prayerfully develop your game plan, be sure to set realistic goals, incorporate daily rhythms, and invite accountability into your memorization process.
5 Ways to Memorize Scripture
Different memorization tools and plans work better for different people. Consider trying a variety of Scripture memory methods to see which is best suited for your learning style and personal goals.
Read and Repeat
At the end of your devotional time, identify the passage you are trying to memorize and read it to yourself 10 times. Following this, repeat the passage to yourself 10 times from memory. When incorporated daily, one would be surprised how much Scripture they are able to retain in just 5 to 10 extra minutes.
Write It Out
When memorizing a passage, keep a journal where the passage can be written out repetitively. Write out the passage 5-10 times and attempt to repeat the passage to yourself from memory.
Group passages to memorize by topic. This makes the memorization process easier. For example, learn a handful of passages dealing with salvation, then worship, and then the church.
Use a Study App
Not everyone wants to associate their time with the Lord with the same app they use to study for exams, which is understandable. However, there are hundreds of pre-made Scripture memory sets available on apps like Quizlet which offer engaging and effective memory challenges to aid you in your learning of the Word. Additionally, there are a handful of effective Bible-specific memory apps available on the app store.
As you progressively memorize more Scripture, be sure to circle back to review past passages. If you chose to memorize Scripture with an accountability partner, quiz one another over older passages on a weekly basis so that you retain previously learned verses.
Remember Why You Memorize Scripture
Perhaps the best way to memorize Scripture in a manner that glorifies Christ and taps into the power of the Spirit is to put your memory passages into practice. Without continual application, Scripture memory is a mere intellectual exercise devoid of the Spirit’s power. Let us invite the transformative work of the Word into our hearts as we grow in knowing and treasuring our Bibles for the glory of our King Jesus!