On today’s podcast, I gave tips for memorizing a book of the Bible. Yes, it’s possible, even if you’re not a memorization genius! Start with one of the shorter books—Jude, Philippians, 2 Timothy, etc.—or pick a set of chapters in your favorite book (preferably, start from the beginning). When you’re finished, that book will become part of you; you’ll know it more deeply than you thought was possible. It will change you, and God will bring it out of you to bless others at the most surprising times.
Here’s a summary of the tips I gave on the podcast:
1. Make a photocopy of the passage you’re memorizing from the Bible you usually read. Keep it with you, and use it for your memorization work. Referencing the photocopy (as opposed to a digital or handwritten copy) will help you remember where passages are on the page of your Bible, even after you eventually forget the exact wording of those passages.
2. Add two verses a day, and throughout the day keep reviewing what you’ve memorized so far. If you can connect your review process to a daily trigger (like getting into your car), this will help you develop the habit. (Driving alone is a great time to review!) When you’re starting out, resist trying to add more than two verses a day. Stay slow and steady. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
3. Go for a walk to help you memorize more quickly. I’ve discovered that, for whatever reason, walking increases my ability to memorize. Rather than memorize two verses a day, you might find that it works better for you to go for a long walk once a week with your photocopy and memorize several verses at once. Then the rest of the week, you can focus on simply reviewing everything you’ve learned so far.
4. Say the passage out loud as you’re memorizing and reviewing (yes, even if you’re on a walk). Hearing the words will help you memorize. If you come to a sentence you’re having trouble with, try saying the words over and over in an interesting way (rhythmically or in song) to help you nail down the words by the way they sound and feel.
5. Don’t just say the words; put yourself inside the book. Speak the words as they would have been spoken by the writer to his readers. Instruct with him. Rejoice with him. Plead with him. Marvel at Jesus with him. To connect with what’s being said in this way, you’ll need to figure out exactly what’s being said and why, and this will increase the depth of your meditation on this book and, as a result, your ability to memorize it.
6. Read through the entire book once a day. In order to memorize well, you need to truly understand what you’re memorizing. By reading through the entire book, you’ll be getting a sense of what the particular verses you’re working on mean within the context of the entire flow of the book’s argument. You’ll also be reviewing your past work, and you’ll catch if you’ve been missing a word or two.
7. Switch to another book if you find your memorization is becoming a chore you avoid. If you’ve been working on the same book for months, and you’re losing motivation, don’t force it! Start with something fresh that will motivate you again. You can always come back to the previous book in the future and pick up where you left off. Sometimes when I’m working on a book, I’ll finish the whole thing; sometimes I move on. The important thing is to keep the habit going.
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