How to Memorize Scripture

by Matt Slick

Many people don't think they can memorize their way out of a new shopping mall let alone remember a verse in the Bible.  I've spoken with hundreds of people about Scripture memorization who say the same thing: "I have a terrible memory."  My answer to them is, "Nonsense!"  Everyone memorizes all the time.  You've learned to speak, haven't you?  You've memorized thousands of do's and don't's in life, right?  You know your social security number, your phone number, your address, how many brothers, sisters, or children you have, how to get to work and what to do when you get there.  The problem is not that people can't memorize, it's that they won't memorize.

The Bible is the foundation for witnessing and you must memorize verses to be able to use it -- this applies to your devotional life as well as witnessing.  One serious problem I've found is that most people have memorized fewer than seven verses.  The average Jehovah's Witness has committed many more to memory and, given the opportunity, could make the average Christian feel about as knowledgeable as banana bread. What I would like to do is help you memorize better.

Four easy steps to memorization

There are four easy steps to Scripture memorization.  Let's use 1 Peter. 2:24 as an example: "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed" (NASB).

Step 1: Location

The first step is to memorize the location, not the verse.  The reason for this is if you forget the verse, but you've memorized the location, you can always go look it up.

First, memorize the location: "1 Peter 2:24."  Say "1 Peter 2:24" over and over again. Don't worry about what it says at first, just memorize the location.  Make sure that when you say 1 Peter 2:24 it flows smoothly off your lips.  Say 1 Peter 2:24 emphasizing different syllables.  Say 1 Peter 2:24, or 1 Peter 2:24 or 1 Peter 2:24 or even 1 Peter 2:24.  But say 1 Peter 2:24 enough times that when you say 1 Peter 2:24, it is as natural as breathing.

Step 2: Gist

The second step is to learn the gist of what the verse is.  In this case, it is very simple, "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross."  Say, "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross" in different ways.  Say, "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross," or "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross," and "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross," etc.  But say "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross" enough times that when you say, "Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross," it is as natural as saying 1 Peter. 2:24.  (Kind of repetitive, isn't it?)

Step 3: Association

The third part is more fun.  This is where you associate the two together.  Say, "1 Peter 2:24 is Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross.  Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross is 1 Peter 2:24.  1 Peter 2:24 is Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross...".  Say this over and over again, about ten times.  In no time, if you do this, you will memorize.

This association part is important because it helps you to think of one part whenever you think of the other.  For example, if someone asked you "Where does it say that Jesus bore our sin in his body?", you'd immediately reply with "1 Peter. 2:24."  It works.

Step 4: A piece of paper

The fourth and final part is to take a piece of lined paper, 8 1/2" by 11", and draw a vertical line about one inch from the left-hand side.

Write the verse location in the left column on your paper and on the right side simply write the verse.  Do this with each verse you want to remember.  Fold it up, put it in your pocket or purse, and carry it with you everywhere you go.  When you forget a verse or its location simply pull out the paper and refresh your memory.  In no time at all, you'll have over one hundred verses committed to memory.

Memorization is like exercise.  The more you do it, the easier it gets; the less you do the harder it gets.  So do it.  If you follow this procedure your mind will become like a sponge, you'll end up memorizing all sorts of stuff with the greatest of ease, like how many socks are in your drawer, everything that is in your refrigerator, and even where your car keys are.

And one more thing.  You will be amazed at how the Lord uses what you've memorized.

Recommended verses to memorize



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.