Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. — Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV)
What does it mean to fix God’s words in your heart and mind? Among other things, it means to be continually conscious of the Bible’s teachings as you go through your daily routine. And one practical way to make sure that God’s words are always close at hand is to memorize verses and passages from the Bible.
At first glance, memorizing Bible verses might seem a strange activity. For many Christians, Bible verse memorization is something kids do in Sunday school, not something that serious adults do. And if you didn’t grow up reciting memorized Bible verses to your Sunday school teacher, the idea of intentionally memorizing parts of a book—even the Book—might seem odd.
But there’s power in the act of memorizing—of becoming so familiar with a word, phrase, or verse that it springs to mind instantly when something happens to trigger the memory. When you’ve truly internalized something, it can stay with you all your life—consider how easy it is to recall the lyrics to pop songs from your youth. And if you can still remember the lyrics to a Bon Jovi album from the ’80s, you’re quite capable of committing a few Bible verses to memory!
To find out the best ways to memorize Scripture, we turned to a truly huge and committed resource—Bible Gateway users! We asked Bible Gateway fans to share their Bible verse memorization tips. We’ve combed through the hundreds of responses and picked out our favorite Bible memory tips. So without further ado, here are…
Ten Tips for Memorizing Bible Verses
1. Choose a verse to memorize that speaks to something in your life right now.
A Bible verse that’s relevant to what you’re going through is easier to memorize than one that speaks to a topic that’s abstract to you.
2. Start small.
Choose a short verse to start with… and make it even shorter by breaking it down into pieces. Memorize the first five words in the verse first, and when you’ve got them down, add the next five. As you become more confident, you can add more words, sentences, and even entire verses—but don’t add anything new until you’ve got the previous words down pat.
3. Write it down.
A vast majority of Bible Gateway fans suggested this simple strategy: write the verse you’re memorizing down on paper. But don’t just write it once; write it many times—five or ten times is a good start (and some people write out their memory verses up to 50 times!). Physically writing the words out is an extremely useful tactile memory aid.
4. Say it out loud.
Just as writing a verse out can help in memorizing it, so speaking the words aloud is an excellent way to burn them into your memory. One person suggested turning the radio off during your commute to work or school each day and reciting your memory verse out loud instead!
5. Incorporate the verse into your prayers.
When you pray, include elements of the verse in your words to God. Pray that God will help you understand and apply the verse to your life. Pray for God’s help in fixing the verse in your heart and mind.
6. Put it everywhere.
Many people suggested writing your memory verse out on multiple index cards or sticky notes (combine this with tip #3 above!) and putting them all over the place, so that you’ll see the verse many times throughout your day. Tape the verse to your bathroom mirror or computer monitor. Tuck it into your purse, lunch sack, car glove compartment, school textbook, pockets… anywhere you’ll see it. One person suggested making the verse your computer desktop background, and another goes so far as to laminate the verse and hang it in the shower!
7. Use music to help.
Do you find it much easier to remember lyrics than spoken words? Try setting the Bible verse to a simple tune (perhaps repurposing a song you already know well) that you can sing to yourself. (If this sounds like a strange suggestion, consider that many famous hymns and worship songs use Bible verses as their lyrics, and were written specifically as aids for Bible verse memorization.)
8. Make it a game.
Turn the act of memorizing into a personal challenge! You might write the verse out on flashcards, leaving key words blank, and quiz yourself. Get some friends or family members to help quiz you, or even to memorize the verse along with you and encourage/challenge you.
9. Translate the verse into a different language.
This tip isn’t for everyone, obviously, but several Bible Gateway fans suggested that if you’re comfortable in more than one language, try translating your verse into a different language. Translation requires an intense focus on the meaning and language of a verse—an obvious help for memorization.
10. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Whatever strategy you follow in memorizing a Bible verse, do it repeatedly. Write it down, speak it out loud, sing it out, pray it—but whatever you do, do it over and over until it’s a natural, reflexive action. The goal isn’t to reduce it to a mindless, repeated activity, but to slowly press the verse into your memory through repetition. Repeat your memorization activity over the course of several hours, days, or even weeks to pace yourself—there’s no prize for memorizing a Bible verse fastest; the point is to internalize it over time. And that means you shouldn’t be discouraged if it takes a while for the verse to “stick”—keep at it, and it will take root!
If you’ve never tried memorizing a Bible verse before, it’s much easier than you think! Pick one or two of the strategies above and give them a try, adapting your strategy as you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. One thing is certain: you’ll never regret spending more time focusing intently on God’s Word. And there’s nothing quite so wonderful as an encouraging Bible verse springing forth from memory at just the time you need to hear it.
(These are just a few of the many memorization tips that Bible Gateway fans shared. Be sure to take a look through the hundreds of responses to our question about Bible memorization strategies.)