Monday, August 25, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Bible Memorization

As I mentioned in my "Homeschooled All the Way" post, Bible memorization has always played a key part in my life. Many thanks goes to my parents, for they have put me into the habit of memorizing Scripture, a habit I don't intend to break.

As a child, I first memorized verses that corresponded to the ABCs. Then we learned another set of ABC verses, but this time all of the verses were from Proverbs. As a family, we often memorized portions of Scripture, such as Proverbs 2:1-5, Psalm 91, or Ephesians 6:10-18. Almost all of the passages were memorized set to different tunes and using actions that corresponded to the words. This way, we learned quite quickly and even when very young, could sing quite a few passages of Scripture.

As we grew, the passages got longer, but we always had Scripture portions that we were working on. Some of my siblings did Bible Quiz team for a year or two, and some of us were in Awana for 5-6 years. I really enjoyed my time in Awana, as I went through and completed each book, memorizing verses that I still remember well today.

Though the singing method of memorizing works really well, I did start noticing that sometimes it made me not grasp the true meaning of Scripture, for it's easy to sometimes mindlessly sing along without paying attention to the words. Plus, the tune would sometimes make pauses or breaks in the verses where there weren't pauses, so sometimes when I would later read it, a lightbulb would go on as I realized what things actually said! So, some larger portions I started memorizing by saying them, often dramatically. I memorized almost the whole book of Ruth this way, giving voices and characterization to each person mentioned, inspired by the amazing presentations of George Sarris. Then I memorized the book of Ephesians, dramatically learning and retelling it as though I were talking to the audience.

I've also done Memlock for a few years, which has really helped me learn key verses that correspond to different topics. The foundation of Memlock is a lot of review, which helps cement the verses in your head. Each week you add one new verse (or two, as I do) and each day you review the 6 verses that you do daily, and the 6 verses that you do by days of the week. Then there are verses you've memorized that you review once a month. This way you are constantly learning new verses, yet at the same time you don't forget the verses you've already memorized. It's a great system that I would recommend to everyone! It isn't hard, and it takes just around 5 minutes per day.

The hiding of God's Word in your heart is something all Christians should do. So many times I have been reminded of Scripture that relates to the very situation I'm going through at just the right time. It is so encouraging! When I'm writing, I often remember verses that relate, and when I need encouragement, God brings things to mind. Our God is so good!

In order to make verses I've memorized easy to find (for references are sometimes hard for me to remember) each time I learn a new verse, I underline it with a yellow highlighter in my Bible. That way, while flipping through I can quickly find the verse I'm looking for, and it's fun to read through and see how many verses I know in some chapters!

You may not think you're very good at memorization, and it's true that some people seem to be better at it then others. However, everyone can memorize if they work at it. The key, I've found is consistent, daily review. I do take off weekends, for they don't usually go according to schedule, but I try to review the verses I'm working on each weekday. Even taking it slow, you'd be amazed at how many verses you can learn if you stick to it! Accountability is also an important part. At home, I would say my verses to Mom or Elijah usually weekly, so that they could make sure I was memorizing things right. I haven't found an accountability partner to say my verses to here yet, but hope to soon.

To memorize, if it's a short verse, I'll say the whole verse looking at it, then look away and try to say it, and keep quizzing myself. If it's longer, I'll do it in sections; learning the first sentence, then learning the second sentence, then putting the first two together, then going on. If it's a whole chapter or book, I'll first review what I know, then add on to it in sections. Stress reviewing, for that will help keep it in your head.

Currently, I'm continuing Memlock and have started memorizing the book of Colossians. I really enjoyed learning Ephesians, and having the Word flowing through my mind and pondering it in my heart each day. Since I was preparing to head of to college, I was tempted to just do Memlock and leave it at that for now. After all, I'm continuing to learn Scripture, and would be busy! However, the time right now is the best one to memorize things, for people say it just gets harder as you get older. Plus, I was being lazy, and was too content to just ride easily along on my two verses a week. God has given me the ability to memorize things easier then some, so I need to push myself, "do hard things", and use the ability God has given me.

My current routine is to take my small index card binder that has Colossians written out in sections with me in the beginning of the day, and review and memorize it in the time between breakfast and my first class, as I walk or sit on a bench. When I get back to my dorm in the morning or afternoon, I review and memorize the Memlock verses I'm working on. I so enjoy "feasting" on God's Word all throughout the day - from devotions in the morning, to memorizing and pondering verses throughout the day.

It's never too late to start memorizing Scripture. Find a method that works for you, which can be a combination of many things: singing, speaking, doing actions, writing, etc. Once you've determined a method, stick to it and work on saying it every day. Find someone who can keep you accountable in your memorization, and be faithful to report and practice with them, daily or weekly. Really meditate on what you learn, and ask God to show you new insights through it all. You'll be wonderfully amazed at how your spiritual life grows and deepens!

If you would, please answer any, all, or none of the following questions:
  • Do you consistently memorize Scripture? Why or why not?
  • If so, what are you working to memorize right now?
  • Do you have a certain routine or method that works for you? Please share it!
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart;

do not let me stray from Your Commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart

that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O LORD;
me Your Decrees.

With my lips I recount
all the Laws
that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your Statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your Precepts

and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your Decrees;

I will not neglect Your Word

~Psalm 119:9-16


Harmony said...

1. Slap in the face! I haven't consitently memorized scripture since I got to old for Awanas several years ago. I've been telling myself recently that I'm too busy and don't have time. That's funny. I had time to memorize the definitions for my science test. And isn't God's word a whole lot more important that Newton's Second Law?
2. I'm gonna start getting my priorities (spelling?) straight and find something.
3.The memorizing method that works best for me is to record myself saying whatever it is I need to memorize into my cell phone and then play it back over and over and over until I can say it along perfectly with the recording.

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Miss Rose Virginia Butler said...

I can't remember the last verse I tried to memorize! I'll remember them for a while, but then I'll just forget them.

However, I worked in the kitchen at a camp this summer, and accidentally memorized 1 Corinthians 11:1. It was the theme verse of the entire summer and I heard it so many times, it's just stuck in my head now. The way they taught it to the kids was that they said it in many different "styles." "Valley Girl Style" was said with a Valley Girl accent. "Tiny Style" was said as if you were shrunk down to chipmunk size, etc. Listening to the verse said in all these different ways got it drilled into my head, as I overheard it from the kitchen about once a week.

Anyway, it really got me thinking that if those kids could memorize that verse, plus one other verse every day, I could memorize at least a verse a week. I haven't started yet, but after reading this post, I think I'm going to. I have a terrible memory with every day things, so if I exercise my memory with verses, I guess it'll help.

Kat with a K said...

Thanks so much for posting about this. I was just thinking the past few days that I want to start memorizing Scripture regularly, but I'm not sure where to start. I'm good at memorizing things, so that part isn't the problem, but I'm not sure how to choose what to memorize first. Anyone have any tips?

Anonymous said...

I learned Philippians last winter, which desperately needs review, and I have been about half way through James since May, which is also in desperate need of review. I am also planning to start a topical memory system as soon as I get my fall schedule in swing.

Maria Pauline

Virginia said...

I have used Memlock my entire life!!!!! My mom started me and my siblings on it since we were really little!!!!!

Abby said...

I am trying to memorize much more, and I find that the best way is to put it somewhere you can read it from your bed, and read it every night.