I can not explain the rush I get after I realize that I have just recited a long passage of scripture, and every time I reach a new "milestone" within a chapter, I feel super accomplished. For example, yesterday I finished chapter 2 of Philippians, and since there are only 4 chapters in the entire book, I am now able to say that I am (actually more than) halfway through memorizing the book of Philippians (the last two chapters are a few verses shorter than the first two, so that is a pretty amazing feeling to be almost done.)
If you do not already place an importance on memorizing large sections of the Bible like this, I highly encourage you to at least try it out and see if it doesn't change your life - I know it has affected mine in the past month. Even if you don't plan on using it on the mission field one day, like I am, it will still be helpful to not have to consult a physical Bible every time you need to reference something from the Bible. (Yes, we have our phones ready at a moments notice, but we aren't always able to use them. Wi-fi is a funny thing.)
For me, I just don't know where God is going to call me to go, so I want to be prepared if I go to a place where I am not really allowed to have a Bible. It's kind of hard to tell people about the Gospel if you can't actually tell them things from the Gospel.
Memorizing Long Passages of Scripture
First off, it is important to note that this will not be something that happens overnight. Honestly, I'm surprised it's only taken me this long to memorize 60 verses of Scripture, and this probably isn't the best way because I don't know how well I will still know all of this in a year. However, I have prepared for the inevitability of my forgetfulness by planning to devote a lot of time to reviewing what I already know, and giving my mind a break from memorization when I feel it needs it. This process of reviewing will probably never stop as long as I live, and I hope to at least start by recalling each passage at least once a week for the foreseeable future. That might change if I get to the point where I have memorized a lot of the Bible, but I will worry about how I go about remembering everything when that time comes.
If nothing else, I can always spend time reviewing when I'm driving or traveling somewhere. I mean, what else are you really going to do during that time?
The idea is to memorize one verse (or sentence) a day. You read that verse 10 times while looking at your Bible, and then you close your eyes, look away, or close your Bible and recite it 10 times from memory. (Sometimes you will still need to reference something, so when I do it this way I like to be able to recite it 5 times without any help, so that I know that I have it locked in.) It also helps to do this out loud, so that, by saying it, you have extra help in letting the pattern of the words sink in.
Then, you go about your day. You can review if you want, but it isn't always necessary, unless you just need to kill time or something. The next day, you recite the previous day's verse ten times without help. When you have that down pat, you can move on to the next verse, repeating the steps you took the day before with the first verse.
The pattern continues until you are done memorizing the passage, with you continuing to review old verses. You don't really need to repeat each "review" verse ten times, but if you need to, do whatever works for you.
The only real drawback I have with this is how time consuming it is, especially when you have many verses to review each day. Although it seems like this is partly true for every technique, so it's just something that you have to get used to and learn to love. I just don't like how, with this technique, the time you have to spend memorizing scripture each day sort of grows. And I am not prepared to start off by only taking 10 minutes to memorize a handful of verses, and then one day having to take 30+ minutes to review multiple chapters of the Bible. That just seems slightly pointless, almost as if the people recommending this method has not actually tried it out for more than a couple weeks. It's nice in theory, but does it really work?
How I Memorize Scripture
My secret (that I got from another website) is to read the passage as a whole multiple times before I start trying to memorize it by the technique described above. They recommended reading it about 50 times before you start rote memorization. I don't know how I feel about having to read it that much first, but since I haven't tried it, again, I can't really talk.
So, I basically make it a point to frequently review what I have already memorized, and then to read what I haven't gotten to yet. The point of reading ahead is to familiarize yourself with what is coming up before you try to actually memorize it. This is actually super helpful, because certain verses will stick out to you during your reading, which makes them much easier to remember when you work on memorizing that particular verse. You'll be amazed at how helpful it is to do that.
Since I don't want to read it that many times before I work on my memorization, I have decided to read or recite the passages 50 times before I start working on any other book (or chapters) of the Bible. And let me tell you, 50 times is a lot of times. But, I've made some good progress, so I won't complain (as Philippians tells us to not complain.)
- I write the verses on index cards, so that I can carry them around with me for quick reference. Then, if I have any free time, I can memorize the next verse real quick. I feel like it's a waste of trees, but at least it's for the Bible. That can't be a waste.
- When you memorize a new verse, make sure you can recite the ones before it with the new one before you move on, so that you can go ahead and see how it all flows together. I don't move on until I can get it to flow together (accurately) first.
- You don't have to necessarily recite the whole book before the new verse, but at least make sure you are reciting a large portion of it. For me, if I am more than half way through a chapter, I'll just recite that chapter. But, if you're still at the beginning of a chapter, you probably would want to review the previous chapter, as well. Just make sure that you occasionally recite all that you know, to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
- Ask a family member or friend to help you review and check for mistakes. As you continue to memorize, you can sometimes teach yourself to leave out certain words or mix up word order, but looking at it yourself isn't always the best way to accurately check for mistakes. Having someone else test you will allow you to recite it as you always tend to do, so that you can see all that you need to work on.
- When you are memorizing passages of Scripture, memorize the numbers as well. They are a pain and can interrupt the flow of the passage, but you will be thankful you did. This will help you to recall specific verses when others reference them.
- As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you just need to take a break from memorization. Your brain is a muscle, and muscles can become tired or overworked. The good thing, though, is that it will become easier and easier to memorize things as you continue to use the muscle. It may be hard at first, but over time memorization will come naturally.
Well, that's how I memorize long passages of the Bible! I hope that I have either helped you decide to make memorizing Scripture a priority or make the process a little easier to you. I know that I am in no way an expert in this area, but I've seen it work in my own life, and I know it has been helpful to know these verses. Knowing long passages helps you to keep verses in context, so that you aren't learning just random verses out of context.
And I'll continue to grow in this discipline with you guys, so if you have any tips, feel free to let me know in the comments below or by email. I'll be glad to hear them! And if you have any questions for me that I haven't covered in this post, let me know and I'll be sure to answer them as soon as possible!
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Thanks for reading! :)