Memorizing larger passages of Scripture can be difficult for most people. As a Bible college graduate, I have had my fair share of practice.
As a child, memorizing came easy to me. Maybe it was the fun and challenge of the contests we had in youth group or at church camp. I don’t know. Every year our family groups competed as teams for “points” throughout the week. From a very young age, I was competitive. I remember helping my Mom’s family group (high schoolers) during the challenges by memorizing large passages of Scripture several times a day.
But as I got older, that became more difficult. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t practice memorizing regularly or the ability to memorize decreased. And now that I’m a busy mom of four, I find it difficult to remember just about anything.
7 Methods for Memorizing
So when I entered Bible college and realized just how much memory work was required for nearly every class, I had a mild panic attack.
Okay…maybe not so mild.
Nevertheless, I had to figure out a way to memorize Scripture. Here are some tips and tricks that worked for me and my husband, who also attended Bible college.
1. Repetition – I memorize best with repetition. Whether it be saying it over and over, reading it over and over or even singing it over and over. That’s how I memorize.
2. Write it out – I know many friends who had to write out the verses over and over. Whether by hand or typing it out on their computer, they did it over and over until it stuck.
3. Learn in chunks – The final exam for one of our classes in college was to memorize the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6 and 7 (or take a written essay test). For obvious reasons, I chose not to take that particular class, but many of my “smarter” friends did. They worked on this throughout the semester and broke it down by chunks. So each week they would learn a set number of verses. Then they would add to it each week.
4. Write and erase method – My husband learned the Sermon on the Mount by writing it out on a wipe board and reading it aloud in his room. As he learned it, he would erase random words from the board and continue to repeat it aloud. He would do this until it was all erased and he could quote it word for word. Needless to say, he only missed a total 22 words on the final exam, which still gave him a 99%! (Told you he was a smarty-pants.)
5. Make it a song or rhythm – I am a musical person, so making things into songs or rhythmically helps me remember them. I can memorize songs in a heartbeat, so I apply that to Scriptures as well.
6. Sign Language – I also know sign language and find it helpful to think of Scriptures in terms of the signs. It’s a visual way for me to remember what I’m learning.
7. Pictograms – Sometimes I had kids draw out the Scripture they were learning as another visual way to remember it. If you put time into drawing the words and phrases they will stick better.
Knowing the Heart of God’s Word
As a mother, I now want my own kids to memorize Scripture, but I want to caution you not to force it just for the sake of memorizing. As a toddler or younger child memorizing is mainly to introduce them to God’s Word.
But as they grow and mature, they are able to comprehend and understand more about what they are learning.
Let me give you a quick challenge. Finish this verse…”for all have sinned and…”(Romans 3:23). Most of us know that verse by heart. But, what about the next verse? “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24, ESV). So many times we end verses or paraphrases from the Bible with the negative and we forget to show God’s redemptive heart, such as in verse 24.
Do I want my kids to know God’s Word? Yes.
But more than that, I want them to know the heart of God’s Word more than the words themselves.
“I rejoice at your word as one who finds great treasure.” – Psalm 119:162 (NKJV)
God’s Word is a treasure that we are to rejoice at when reading and studying.
“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” – Psalm 119:105-107 (ESV)
God’s Word brings hope and life. Seeing the God who not only chastises his people when they are led astray, but also redeems them when they return is so important, especially for our older kids.
So I challenge you as your older kids are memorizing Scriptures, ask them to explore the words themselves and really discover God’s heart in the message. Use these printables to help your kids start studying God’s Word on a deeper level.