Memorizing Scripture allows us to internalize God’s Word, write it on our hearts, and cause it to richly dwell within us (see Colossians 3:16).
While there are many techniques, apps, and memory systems out there, the one strategy I have found the most helpful is this:
Stop trying to memorize Scripture.
Before you begin scribbling down notes for a rebuttal, let me explain what I mean.
One goal I have in my study of Scripture is to understand it in a deeply transformational way.
Every time I read through the Bible I want to comprehend and apply more of what I read. I want to have a good understanding of the context of a passage in its book and also the book in the whole of the Bible story. I want to know God better through His Word and have my life bear witness to my relationship with Him.
The most helpful thing I have done to learn and apply more of Scripture is to meditate on it. Meditating on Scripture is what caused the Psalm 1 man to be full of spiritual vitality and be compared to a tree planted by streams of water.
As we study Scripture and meditate on the passages we study, we set our roots deep down into God’s Word, drawing life and nourishment from its living water.
Another helpful image is that of a steak marinating. To have the best tasting steak, it is good to soak it in something that will give it rich flavor. Deeply studying the Word and meditating on it is like marinating our minds in a way that will make its wonderful truths soak into our minds and hearts.
Meditating on Scripture is what has helped me memorize Scripture more than anything else. Taking my time to understand the book of the Bible I am reading and meditating on its rich truths makes memorizing effortless for me. This is a process I learned as I began preparing to preach, but something I try and keep with me day-to-day.
What I am describing is really memorization by repetition–but with a different focus.
Memorizing Scripture for memorizing Scripture’s sake is a good thing, but may cause one to misunderstand or misapply sole Bible verses by taking them from their context. Studying Scripture deeply and prayerfully meditating on it with the purpose of knowing and obeying God will cause His Word to stick in your mind without much added effort.
I don’t want to turn you off to your preferred memorization method–keep doing what works! Rather I hope to turn you on to an alternative way to think about memorization, meditation, and studying the Bible.