Scripture Memory 101—How to Learn a Verse

Remember, memorization is best accomplished through repetition. If you are a beginner at scripture memory, do not try to memorize the verse the first day out. Instead, do this:

Day 1:

1. Follow the procedure in How to Recite a Verse while reading from the card.

2. Do this 4 more times out loud.

3. Read the verse in context. Answer these questions:

  • Who is speaking these words?
  • Who is he speaking to?
  • What is he talking about?

This is the Greater Context.

Day 2:

1. While reading the card, recite it out loud 5 times.

2. Read the verse in context again.

  • What do the verses immediately surrounding the memory verse say?
  • What issues are being talked about?
  • What does the writer want his readers to do or think or feel? (In some Psalms, the “Reader” is God!)

This is the Immediate Context.

3. Recite the verse out loud again, as if the words express your thoughts. Try acting it out.

Day 3:

By now you may begin—but only if you feel confident—actively memorizing the verse.

1. Recite the verse out loud 2 or 3 times.

2. Try hiding the words of the card (as described in How to Review a Verse, above), and reciting them out loud from memory.

3. Immediately uncover the words and recite the verse out loud 3 more times (to reinforce accuracy and de-program awkwardness).

4. Look at the verse in context.

  • What does it say?
  • What is its message?

Write it down.

5. While looking at the card, read the verse out loud at least once.

6. Ask the Lord to help you apply this verse to your life.

Day 4:

This is the day you can really begin to memorize!

1. Reading from the card, repeat the verse out loud 2 or 3 times.

2. Again, try hiding the words on the card (remember How to Review a Verse?) and reciting them out loud from memory.

3. If you got the verse word-perfect, read it out loud again. Then go to step 6. If you did not yet get it word-perfect, don’t worry—just read it out loud and go to step 4.

4. Read the missed phrase out loud 5 times. Then try to recite the phrase out loud from memory. Repeat this until the verse flows (or you’re too tired!). Tie the missed phrase to the phrase that precedes it. Read them both out loud once or twice, then recite them from memory. Tie the phrases the same way to the phrase that follows. Keep doing this until you have the whole verse memorized comfortably.

5. Remember at this stage to recite more from reading than from memory (this reinforces accuracy and confidence, while deprogramming awkwardness and pressure). Read the verse again, out loud, before going to step 6.

6. Look closely at your verse.

What does it want you to do? or be? or know?

Is there

  • A sin to forsake?
  • A promise to claim?
  • An attitude to adopt or change?
  • A command to obey?
  • An example to follow?
  • Is there a new or glorious—or forgotten—truth about God?

Write it down.

7. While looking at the card, read the verse out loud at least one more time.

8. Thank your Father for making his word practical for you (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Ask him for insight today on making the verse a part of your life through the day.

Day 5:

If you are not comfortable with the verse yet, repeat steps 1–5 from yesterday. Do not rush yourself—go at a pace that allows accuracy and growing confidence without condemnation.

If you are comfortable…

1. Read the verse out loud once.

2. Cover the words and recite from memory once. If there is any awkwardness, simply read the phrase 3–5 times and recite 2 or 3 times.

3. Read the verse once.

4. Recite.

5. Read.

6. Ask God what specific application he wants you to make today. Ask him:

  • Lord, where is my life not in conformity with this verse?
  • What would you have me do to bring my life into conformity with your truth? John 17:17
  • How can I begin today?

7. This is your assignment from your Lord. Write it down. Then do it (James 1:22).

8. Thank your Father that Jesus, who is living in you, has all the power necessary to produce this work in your life—beginning this moment!

Day 6:

By now you should begin to “own” this verse. But be patient. The enemy of your soul opposes you. Some phrases may still be a problem. Remember that you are not memorizing to pass a test or to be accepted by men—or even by God! You are memorizing God’s word in order for your mind to be renewed (Romans 12:2), in order for you to think God’s thoughts after him. Be steadfast (1 Corinthians 15:58)—your toil is not in vain!

1. If you are able, review the verse as described in How to Review a Verse. If you cannot, then read the verse out loud.

2. After you have recited or read the verse at least 5 times, look over what you have written about it. Is there anything about the verse or its context you do not understand? Write down these questions and make them a matter of prayer. If you are able, find the answers. If you are not able, do not be anxious (Philippians 4:6–7). Trust God to reveal them to you at the most helpful time.

3. Recite the verse out loud.

4. Turn the verse into a prayer of positive confession:

Thank you, Lord, for this assurance of my salvation. Thank you for this testimony, that you have given me eternal life, and that this life is in your Son. Thank you, Lord, that because I have the Son I have the life.

Lord, thank you for using me today to reach out to those who do not yet have your Son, and therefore do not yet have eternal life.

Please use my life to draw them to you and guide me in all I say and do today. Thank you.

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