My small group for this fall is all about Bible Literacy, we are half way through our book. I think we all have grasped the importance of not just reading the Bible, but studying it. We are learning study tools so that we can read with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer. We have grasped that reading a piece of scripture just once isn’t sufficient, and reading it in context is responsible.
At the beginning of the small group sessions, I asked all of the women to write down WHY they were interested in learning how to study the Bible. An older woman in the group shared that she was looking for a better way to retain what she was reading. Age and illness have taken a toll. Years of Bible Studies, personal reading, etc… and she just couldn’t hold onto to the information. She was hoping that learning new study skills would help her retain the scriptures she loved.
I think most of us struggle with memorizing scripture.
It takes time, effort, and practice. Most of us find that our time is pretty divided between work, family, volunteering, etc. We have also lost the need for scripture memorization, particularly in the United States. In my own home I have access to NINE translations of the Bible in PRINT. If you include the access I have through the internet, I literally have access to every translation written to date. It costs me nothing.
Historically, people would memorize scripture because they were relaying the scriptures from memory… there were not written Bibles. Later, as the scriptures were recorded on scrolls, the scrolls would be passed around from city to city. It was quite possible that no single city would have the complete collection of the scriptures all at one time. In other countries, having a printed copy of the scriptures might get you executed. For these people memorization is their only option.
However, for you and I… it’s a quick click of some keys, or a short walk to our bookshelf.
We don’t NEED to memorize it, because we have instantaneous access to it… any time we want.
For my friend who is aging, this is a relief.
Yet, for those of us who want to memorize scripture (in part, or in whole) it is a daunting task. Here are a few tips for helping you memorize scripture.
- Select scriptures that are meaningful to you, at least to start with. They may be encouraging scriptures that get you through rough times. Or, pieces of beautiful poetry that remind you of the glory of God. They may be promises or scriptures of wisdom. Having a connection to the scripture will give you the motivation needed to memorize.
- Write out the scripture several times by hand, for some learning styles this is an active way to cement the scriptures to memory. For others they may need to repeat the scripture out loud, many times like a drill, in order to recall it from memory. Or, come up with a mnemonic device to assist with memory recall…. such as hand gestures, putting it to a tune or rhythm.
- Write the scripture down on a card, and display it in an area you frequent often. Such places may be your bathroom mirror, on your front door, the dashboard of your car, or in your planner. Keep it there until you have memorized the scripture, then replace with a new one.
- Try memorizing the scripture from a translation that is easier to recall. A King James version can be difficult with the old english phrasing. The NIV or ESV may be a lot easier because the language is more familiar.
Also make sure that you review scriptures you have already memorized often, to ensure you retained it accurately. Otherwise you may find yourself leaving out words of blending scriptures together that are unrelated.