Ten Keys to Scripture Memory
1. Use good tools.
Small cards and a plastic packet to store them in works really good. (To obtain cards and packets contact Pastor Jerry Chase, or you may order directly from www.fast.st by calling 800.501.4024)
2. Memorize Word-Perfect.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2) The more perfectly you memorize a verse—the more firmly it is engraved in your brain. By the way, it takes no more effort to memorize a verse correctly than it does to memorize it wrong! In short, make it a rule to always memorize your verses word-perfect.
3. Learn to Meditate.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1 Timothy 4:15, cf. Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
a. Ask yourself questions: What is the context of this verse (the big picture that this verse comes from). Who is speaking in the verse, and to whom? What is he trying to communicate—and why? What makes this verse important? What insights does this verse give you? How does it make you feel?
b. Try emphasizing individual words in a verse. What meaning does each key word contribute to the verse? Are there other words that mean the same things—but give you clearer insight into what the verse really means?
c. Draw connections between this verse and other verses you know, or have read before. What light do they shed on each other? The more verses you know, the more exciting the connections will become!
4. Apply the Word.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22) Meditation should always be combined with personal application. Application is simply taking the principles you see in a verse and then finding ways to implement them. It studies how to integrate a verse into one’s daily life. It looks for practical steps to put a verse into action. Its goal is to experience the verse. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
a. Goals. Does this verse have any bearing on your goals? Your direction in life? The things you are working toward: Perhaps it will suggest ways to move forward toward a goal, or it may suggest altering, or even eliminating a goal.
b. Decisions. All of us face challenging decisions at times. Does this verse shed light on any decisions you are facing? Does it point to some choice you should make?
c. Lifestyle. Think through your daily schedule. Your habits, patterns, and routines. Can you think of ways to change your lifestyle—that would bring it more into harmony with the verse you are memorizing?
d. Problems. Are you experiencing any difficulties or irritations? Perhaps the verse will suggest solutions. Look for answers to the perplexing problems of your life.
5. Focus on Retention.
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. (Proverbs 4:4-5) Engrave the verses in your memory. It will take a full two months to get the verse permanently engraved in your brain.
6. Know your References.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) When you not only learn the reference but also the context (chapter, and even the overall theme of that particular book of the Bible) then you will have a very rich resource on the tip of your tongue. Practical idea: To help you remember the references think of sandwich: reference, verse, reference.
7. Stick to Short Passages.
Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9-10) Though it is tempting, avoid trying to memorize long passages, such as whole chapters or books of the Bible—especially at first. Start with just a verse or two, here and there. This is how the Holy Spirit teaches—precept upon precept, line upon line: “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). You do not need to memorize an entire chapter in order to get the context of a single key verse—and rarely is it necessary to quote an entire chapter to answer some friend’s question or objection. Look over the context, yes, but focus your efforts on memorizing key verses and then building those verses into your life.
8. Memorize Fresh Verses.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. (Deuteronomy 6:6) Ask God to begin pointing out specific verses He wants you to memorize. If you are spending time with God each morning, in prayer and Bible study, He has probably already begun impressing certain key verses on your heart. Maybe you have started noticing verses that you hear in a sermon, or perhaps some friend has a knack for sharing especially encouraging Scriptures. When God speaks to our heart, He wants His words to be remembered. He wants them reviewed, over and over, so that they will make a lasting impact on our life. So that we will not forget the lessons He has taught us. See Deuteronomy 4:9.
9. Set a Pace.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32) More important than how determined you are to memorize right now—is how consistent you will be down the road. Will you still be memorizing five years from now? In five months? Or even in five weeks? Two verses a week will become a thousand in ten years, but only if you are consistent—for ten years! How do you do it? Just this: set a pace. We recommend starting with two verses a week. If that becomes too easy, try setting a goal of three or four verses a week. The trick is to make it a rule to never memorize less than your goal. You can always memorize more—but you must not allow a single week to slip by when you memorize less. Set a weekly pace that’s not too difficult, and then be serious about sticking with it!
10. Get Some Accountability.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. (Hebrews 3:13-14) We have found that the biggest key to success in Scripture memory, especially at first, is accountability. Don’t risk going it alone! Without accountability, it is far too easy to slack off—first one week, and then another. Soon the whole Scripture memory program has crashed! Instead, look for a team that assigns and checks up on new verses weekly. This could be your Sabbath School Class, or a new small group. If you need ideas and support please contact Pastor Jerry Chase (PastorJerryChase@gmail.com or 330.515.0430).
Download a PDF version of this page