Making progress in Bible memory
The primary way that young adults can walk in purity and holiness before God in the midst of a sex-obsessed, corrupt, idolatrous world is by guarding our lives with his word; by storing up Scripture in our hearts. Hear what the Psalmist says:
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:9-11)
The Spirit of God uses the word of God stored in our hearts to wage war against sin and to direct our affections away from our lusts and onto our Lord, Jesus, who rescues us from sin and leads us in righteousness. Even more, knowing Scripture helps us understand our role in culture and society as “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16), how to be “in the world” but not “of the world” (Jn. 17:14-19), and “know how to answer” those who don’t share our beliefs with grace and tact (Col. 4:6).
It’s hard, but you can do it
Let’s be real. Bible memorization is hard. You have a great memory, but you may not have trained it for memorizing Scripture. And in an instant-gratification, consumeristic culture, it is an incredibly counter-cultural endeavor to memorize Scripture. It takes a long time. It’s a slow process. It’s repetitive by nature. It absolutely bears much fruit, but it is not always immediately visible. Like a plant, it takes watering and nurturing before noticeable change takes place; even though there is invisible change happening the moment water is absorbed into the roots. We can’t only go to the Scriptures when we feel helpless or defeated either; we must be like the ant, who gathers food in the summer to prepare for the harsh cold of winter (Pr. 6:8).
As challenging as it may be, the reality is that we need to memorize the word of God, and treasure it in our hearts. Feeding our bodies is not enough; we need the very words of God to sustain and strengthen us (Matt. 4:4). That means we need a plan for repeated engagement with God’s word. Reading it, hearing it, saying it out loud, writing it out by hand… again, and again, and again, and again. We remember what we repeat. Just like we will never forget the words to “Hello” or “Let it go” because we’ve heard them 1,000 times, we need to repeatedly interact with passages of Scripture in order to remember them and store them up in our hearts. Obviously, knowing Romans 8 or the Sermon on the Mount by heart will profit us far more over the years than Adele or Disney songs (as catchy as they are).
Helpful tools for Bible memorization
Here are 3 helpful tools and strategies that I use to make progress in Bible memorization (in addition to just reading your Bible):
- HEAR / Bible Audio – The Youversion Bible app and ESV Bible app are both free downloads, and will both read the Bible to you out loud. Choose a passage to memorize, and listen to it each morning on your way to work. If you listen to something 100 times, you will have it memorized. No joke. Try it. Download “YouVersion” here.
- WRITE / Journaling – Journals are incredibly helpful to have for meditating on Scripture and writing out your thoughts on it. The Scribes of Jesus’ day would daily write out the Scriptures word for word, and as a result had entire books of the Old Testament memorized, many having the entire Pentateuch committed to memory! It is really helpful to write out whole passages and chapters of Scripture by hand, slowly, to drive them deeper into your memory and then reflect on them as you write, and meditate on them. Bold certain words, underline phrases, draw lines and make connections. All of this helps you form a stronger memory of the passage you are looking at. Buy a journal from Amazon here.
- TEST / Verses App – This app is also free, but you have to pay $5-6 for some translations (like ESV or NASB) if you don’t want to use the KJV that comes with it. Don’t let that stop you! It is totally worth it! This app is so helpful for memorization, with multiple memorization “games” to test and develop your memory, as well as tracking your memorization progress. Not only that, but you can memorize in community! You can choose a passage to memorize together with friends, and see each other’s progress as you go. Download “Verses” here.
Here are a few great sections of Scripture to start with:
- Psalm 1 (6 verses)
- Psalm 23 (6 verses)
- Deuteronomy 6 (25 verses)
- Romans 8 (39 verses)
- Book of Titus (46 verses)
- Book of Colossians (95 verses)
- Sermon on the Mount (111 verses)
Now it’s time to close this post and go dig into God’s word… start memorizing!