7 of the Best Ways to Memorize Scripture

Jason Dukes

To Treasure the Word of God

King David sang, “I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:11).”

The entirety of his song is well worth the read and makes it very clear why memorizing Scripture is worthwhile. It reminds us of God’s enduring faithfulness. It guides us when we need direction. It enlightens us when we are confused. It reminds us of God’s presence and promises when we are tempted. It shelters us through struggle and difficulty. It tunes us in to the Spirit’s promptings. And so much more!

So how can we treasure it in our hearts (and minds)? Here are seven suggestions for helping you memorize Scripture.

1. Just read it, and read it, and read it, and read it some more. Oh yeah, and listen to it, too!

Did I mention just read it? Seriously. Take Philippians 2:1-11. Read it each morning for a month. After two or three days, start with the Bible closed and your thumb as a bookmark. Recite from memory verse one, then read the rest. Two or three days later, cite verses one and two, then read the rest. Two or three days later, recite verses one, two, and three before read the rest. And so on. By the end of the month, you will surprise yourself by being able to recite all eleven verses from memory.

On top of that, get an audio version of the Bible and listen to it during your drive time. Focus on the areas of Scripture you are reading and re-rereading. It will only support and enhance your memorization efforts.

2. Like David, put it to song.

We do this with our kids, but it’s fun for adults, too! And it doesn’t have to be Steve Greenish (no offense to Steve). Take one verse and sing it to a familiar tune. Take a verse and make a hip-hop rap out of it. Take a verse and make it into a Gregorian chant. You get the gist.

3. Stay put.

Often in our devotional practices, we want to read a large section of Scripture in a short time, rather than spend the bulk of our time in a short Scripture passage. Why? It’s like we will get courtside seats in heaven if we win the “I Read My Bible Through In A Year The Most Times” Award. What if stayed put in a few verses for a few weeks? What if you read and prayed through and studied and lived 1st John 4:7-11 for several weeks, only focusing there. By staying put, it may stay put in your heart and mind!

4. Reword it.

It’s important that we ask God’s Spirit to help us become a people who don’t force Scripture into our conversations, but who become fluent in Scripture so that it flows in our conversations. This is when we know Scripture is more than intellectual fodder and has become hidden in our hearts and minds. One way to help this happen is to reword verses in our own language, being careful not to add to or take away from its message. For example, John 3:17 might be reworded like this: “Jesus didn’t come to point fingers at us in our selfishness. Jesus came to help us believe the goodness of the God who extends a hand of grace to us because of His selflessness. Salvation not condemnation!” Rewording helps His Word sink into our minds and into our conversations much like Jesus shared it over meals and along the road.

5. Flash cards.

You can always write verses on flash cards, and read and recite them as you have time through the day. Maybe replace “texting and driving” with “Scripture memorization and driving.” The Brentwood Baptist legal team just cringed. Of course that was a joke. Never, ever do that. Except at the left turn light in front of the Brentwood Baptist campus, since you sit there for 45 minutes at a time waiting for it to turn green.

6. Post-it notes.

This really works. Write a verse you want to memorize on a Post-It note. Stick it on your mirror and read it and recite it while brushing your teeth for the recommended two minutes. Stick it on your laptop or iPad cover and read it every time you open your device. Stick it in a prominent place at work and read it each time you sit down at your desk. This not only will help you remember it, but may also be a gospel-centered conversation starter.

7. Storying.

Historically, among the global population, hearing the story of God has always been more common than reading the story of God. In a literate culture, however, we often miss the significance of hearing the stories of the Bible both from an impact as well as a memorization perspective. If you want to memorize the more narrative sections of Scripture and watch them flow into your daily conversations, read a story from Scripture five times. Tell it to someone five times. You won’t ever forget it. For more details on “storying,” contact the Brentwood Baptist Missions and Discipleship departments.

8. See #1 again!

Wait. I thought this was supposed to be 7 suggestions? Well, #1 is worth repeating. Go back and read it again, then come back here for a closing story.

I know a mom and dad who read John 1 to their kids at breakfast time consistently for nearly a year. Within the year, their four year old could recite from memory verses 1 to 32. Verses 1-32 at four years old—just from hearing it read over and over. Wow!

May His Word be hidden in our hearts and minds and found in our conversations and lives. Have fun memorizing!