You probably know the verse. You may have it memorized as well, and if not then you still might recognize it. The eleventh verse from the longest psalm reads: “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
It’s the scripture memorizer’s mantra. Reading the Bible isn’t enough for deep transformation into Christ-likeness. No, you need to meditate on it, to think deeply (Psalm 1), and one of the ways to do that is to get it stored in your heart and mind so you can ponder it throughout your day.
I mentioned in another post how me and some other guys are working on memorizing Titus. The end is tantalizingly close, yet life keeps happening so it slows me down some, but it’s been a great experience.
Now each of us has different gifts and abilities, including intellectual. Some find it easier to memorize things than others. Yet, I contend we all have the ability to memorize scripture and store it deep in our hearts. During the periods of quicker pace, I’ve been able to do a verse a day going through Titus. Mostly life has afforded two or three a week. Yet for you, whether you can memorize one a day, or even if you can only memorize one a week or one a month, you can still memorize and it will be beneficial.
Again each of us is different, and each of us will probably discover we can memorize scripture best in different environments and with different methods; but I thought I would share what I do in order to help or encourage you on a scripture memorizing journey.
First, I try to only focus on one verse at a time. Yes, that can produce some weird stopping points. One of my recent verses was Titus 3:4, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.” Talk about a cliffhanger! That verse alone doesn’t make much sense other than to tell us that God is good, loving, and faithful; but the wording itself begs for more. Still, that was my lone verse for that day (a couple of days, actually). I do this because I want to get each verse down clearly and not jumble them together (which is entirely possible in the oft-scramble of my brain functions).
Second, I use a note card system. Back when I was in college, my Baptist Student Union introduced me to the concept of a verse pack (see picture). It’s a little handmade item with two interior and two exterior pouches. With the packs we use tiny cards that are about the perfect size for a single verse. On one side I write the reference and on the opposite side the verse. I am able to then carry these verses in my pocket.
One pouch of the pack is for verses I’ve recently memorized, another for verses to review, another for verses that I will memorize soon, and another to carry blank cards for new verses. When I’m able I pull the pack from my pocket and either memorize or review. I take a glance at the verse reference and then say the verse, flip the card over, and check my accuracy.
Of course, note cards of any size can work. You just need something to help you keep them organized and available.
Third, I memorize while doing something else such as walking. For a thirty-five year old, my back is not in the best shape (one surgery down, at least one more likely forthcoming). At the moment I’m not able to do a lot of things that I used to do like ride my bike, play soccer or basketball, or jog. But, I can walk. I can do lots and lots of walking.
And compared to other things, walking can become monotonous and boring for me. This is especially true when the weather is cold and I have to walk indoors at the community center track—around and around and around in circles (14 laps makes a mile…around, around, around).
I’ve found this is a perfect time for me to memorize. My mind craves something to do and it doesn’t have many other options, so I put my pack in my gym shorts’ pockets, pull out a few cards, memorize and review. Within ten minutes on the track, I can have a new verse mostly memorized word for word as I repeat it over and over and over walking around and around and around.
Fourth, I pray through what I’m memorizing. Okay, so I’m not as consistent at doing this as I should be. But with many of the verses, after I have spent my ten minutes attempting to get the words secure in my mind, I find it is useful to go back and pray through it. Titus deals a lot with character, and so I’ve found many opportunities to pray about what I should be and do as a man and a pastor, and also what I should avoid.
Fifth, I have others quiz me. Again, this is not where my consistency shines the brightest, but I try to do it with friends and guys I mentor. It gives someone else an ear to check me (sometimes in review I think I know the verse well so I don’t always check my own card carefully). It provides accountability (I have other people who know what I’m trying to do and can spur me on). And it provides and encouraging example (hopefully with my example and the impact it has on me, others will be encouraged to memorize scripture as well).
So there you have it—this is the method that works best for me. Maybe you have a different way; you can share it in the comments below. And if you don’t memorize scripture, may I encourage you to give it a try and see how beneficial and soul-refreshing it can be.