During the summer of 2005, I had no trouble convincing my campers to memorize Bible verses before we headed off to our morning cabin Bible study time.
I wish I could say it was because I was a brilliant Bible teacher and that I made learning God’s Word seem super exciting and fun, even to a bunch of ten-year-old girls. I wish it was because I’d brought their Bibles to life for them through incredible messages, because I’d shown them how applicable it was to their lives, because, for once, I’d done something right as a camp counselor.
But none of those things were true.
No, that summer, most of my girls became especially studious when working on their memory verses because instead of reciting their verses to me—plain, boring Ashley—they were able to say their verses to Brian. Brian was the counselor in charge of the ten-year-old boys, and Brian was very cute.
This incentive worked really well for my campers, and I’m sure it would work well for many of my single-and-looking friends, too. But, since most of us don’t really have cute guys asking us to recite Isaiah 43:19 to them, we’re going to have to figure out other, more practical ways to learn more memory verses.
Here are a few ideas that have worked for me over the years.
Put Scripture everywhere. And I mean everywhere. When I’ve wanted to commit certain Bible verses to my mind, I’ve been known to write them on notecards to keep in my bag, scribble them on my bathroom mirror with dry erase markers, draw them on the fronts of my notebooks, and paint them on canvas. Wherever we go, we can bring verses with us. The more we read them, the more we’ll remember them.
Repetition works. It’s not as fun as trying to impress cute boys with Bible verses, but writing a section of verses over and over…and over and over and over again really gets the job done. In middle school, part of my Bible class homework was to memorize entire chapters of the Bible. When I had trouble remembering all the verses for my tests, I’d study by writing each verse ten times. It wasn’t particularly glamorous, but it got the job done. I can still remember Hebrews 11 and 12, entire chapters I memorized for my classes. Since that was a really long time ago, I think we can consider that technique effective!
Hand motions help, too. Sure, it might feel like a childish thing to do at first (this is how Brian and I helped our younger campers with their Bible verses, in fact), but there’s something to be said for using hand motions as memory aids. If you can come up with some sort of personal sign language system to coordinate with the words in the verse you’re trying to memorize, it will be easier to learn the actual verse. When your mind starts to trip up over a word or two, chances are you’ll be able to remember the hand motions anyway, then the hand motions will remind you of the word you’re missing.
Turn it into a song. If you’re a more musical person, take one of your favorite verses and turn it into a song. Write your own music for it. Maybe even record it on your phone so you can keep listening. If you aren’t musically gifted, listen to songs based on scripture from people who do have that gift. One of my favorite artists, Shane & Shane, does this regularly with different Psalms. The music is so beautiful, I listen to it all the time. It only takes a few run-throughs before a new verse is committed to memory.
Use a translation that makes sense. If you’re trying to memorize a translation that uses words you don’t use every day, try switching to a more conversational translation of the Bible like the New Living Translation. It’s far easier to learn every-day language than it is trying to string together sentences that don’t sound like something you’d say in real life.
Memorize with friends. If you have one or two other Bible-believing friends, challenge each other to learn a couple of verses at a time together. Every time you meet, try to have more verses ready to go. If you can’t think of anyone nearby who can join you in that sort of challenge, look into memorizing with a group from She Reads Truth or Living Proof Ministries. Lots of women gather in those places online to encourage each other and learn together!
Block off some time. One more thing I think we can do to make memorizing Scripture a little easier is to actually set aside some time in our calendars to get it done. It’s easy to say we’ll get around to it sometime, but the truth is we often find other things that feel more interesting in the moment. Make an appointment with yourself, sit down with your favorite verse, and learn it word by word.
What are your favorite strategies for learning new Bible verses? Do you have an interesting memory aid that helps you retain Scripture? Tell us about it!