10 tips to memorize a Bible chapter

Tips-Bible-MemoryYou probably don’t need convincing of the benefits of memorizing scripture.

(But if you do, see “Why do you do it?” and “Learn it for later”)

The hard part is making yourself do it.

Memorizing a whole chapter or section of verses has been the easiest way for me to learn scripture.

Here are ten tips to help:

1. See the big picture first

Who’s saying what, to whom, and why? How can learning this benefit you? Make sure this is a chapter you can care about; you’ll be meditating on it for weeks (it took me 5 months to learn Romans 8, but so worth it!).

Learning the author’s main point before concentrating on individual words makes for easier memorizing of the details later. (And even if you end up abandoning the project—but that never happens, right?—you’ll still have benefited by learning the bottom line.)

1-peter-1_schedule2. Make a schedule

It’s helpful to start off with a plan, even if you get off track by Week 2. Revamp it as needed.

But organize it realistically. One to three verses a week is usually enough. Schedule in off-weeks for holidays or just for catch-up.

3. Tell someone

Hiding-His-Word-in-My-HeartAsk a friend or family member to occasionally check in on how you’re doing or let them listen to you recite what you’ve learned. Or even better, recruit them to memorize with you.

If you’re on Facebook, join Hide His Word. We provide encouragement and gentle accountability. Consider signing up for a “Hiding His Word in My Heart” memory challenge with Do Not Depart.

4. Learn the verse numbers

Knowing the exact verse reference isn’t critical (they are man-made divisions, after all), but associating the verse with its number definitely helps keep them organized in your head. (I wasn’t convinced until I tried it; it made a big difference!).

5. Highlight nouns and verbs

A personal quirk—I occasionally memorize the main nouns and verbs in a verse, then go back later to insert adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc. For 1 Peter 1:12:

1 pet 1-12

6. Use your senses

Draw pictures of the main words. Recite the verses aloud, using exaggerated intonations. photo1Type it with ScriptureTyper. Listen to audio versions. Make up acronyms. (For the names in 1 Peter 1:1, we used P&G CAB for Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Print several copies for easy access (I keep a copy in my shower). Use as wallpaper on your computer desktop or as the lock screen on your phone. Make note cards. Use first letter prompts.

7. Bridge the gaps

One obstacle with a chapter is moving from the end of one verse to the beginning of the next. So ask yourself questions to logically lead in to the next verse. For example, 1 Peter 1:6 ends with, “...if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,” so I ask myself, “But why is that necessary???” Verse 7 begins with the answer, “so that the tested genuineness....”

Learning to connect the end of one verse to the beginning of the next is crucial to propel you forward.

8. Keep moving

Don’t wait to get a verse word-perfect before you move to the next one.
Don’t wait to get a verse word-perfect before you move to the next one.

(Yes, it’s worth repeating.)

Aiming for perfection is the quickest route to burnout. You’ll be surprised at how your imperfections reciting the old verses iron themselves out even while you’re learning new verses, if you continue to practice them all.

9. Review it often

As soon as you can string a few words together, start saying them in your head, over and over, stumbling or not, as often as you can. Sorry, there’s no substitute for review. 

10. Pray the words

Repeat the words not only to yourself, but also to God. I often recite Psalm 103 as praise to the Lord when I wake up in the middle of the night. I love having immediate access to wholesome words instead of wasting time worrying (although I still do that, too, unfortunately).

But the more I can think about who God is through his own inspired Words, the more I love him.

* * *

What helps you memorize?

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