My memorization journey really began in 2009, when I signed up for the National Bible Bee competition.
That first year, I probably didn’t memorize more than a hundred verses — and my motivation was definitely no higher than the $25,000 Primary division prize. But by God’s grace, over the past eight years I’ve grown so much — both in faith and in memorization ability.
The hundreds (maybe thousands) of verses I’ve learned through that time gave me a love for God and His word that I hadn’t thought possible.
If I’ve learned only one thing through the Bible Bee, it’s the importance of God’s word in our lives. But when I don’t have the competition to motivate me it’s so easy to slip into laziness or forgetfulness.
Here are a few things the competition has taught me about memorization.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, all of our work will be merely of ourselves — in our own strength and for our own glory. While God’s word will never return void, when we try to do His will apart from His strength it will lead to pride and, ultimately, discouragement.
Pray that God would use His word to to increase your knowledge of and love for Him, to heighten your understanding of the gospel, and to transform the way you think, speak, and act.
During Bible Bee, memorization is obviously a priority for me. But when I don’t have that motivation, it’s easy to let it slip — even despite my best intentions. If you don’t make Bible memory a part of your daily routine, it will most likely never get done. That may look like setting aside that half hour before bed, or doing it as soon as you finish school; it will be different for everyone. But you have to plan for it.
When I started Bible Bee, I don’t think I’d ever memorized more than three verses a day (and that would be pretty unusual). Back then, if you had told me twenty verses a day would be normal, I would have laughed. Twenty a day may not be feasible for you (it isn’t for me either, outside the chunk of time I have during BB season).
But God has given us brains that can do marvelous things, and He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. Are you used to memorizing one verse a day, if that? Try two or three, or even five. Not only will you memorize more, you’ll actually have more motivation!
Simple, phrase-by-phrase memorization works well for many people (and I’ve used it plenty). But for those passages you can’t seem to keep straight, or that verse that you can never quite remember, there are plenty of other techniques.
Try writing out the verse by hand, writing down the first letter of each word, or printing it and covering up two or three more words every time you read through it. You could also try to visualize images related to the words and imagine them interacting with each other, maybe in a place you know well (this works particularly well for lists!). Don’t feel like you have to get locked into one method. Figure out whatever works for you.
You can memorize all you want, but unless you don’t review it you won’t be able to remember it a week later. You could set up your own review system — for example, review the verse (or passage) every day for a week, then once a week after that, or review each finished chapter on a particular day of the week.
There are many other resources, too. I like to use ScriptureTyper.com to keep my verses current, and Memverse.com also has an effective review system.
During Bible Bee season I try to recite all of my verses out loud to my parents at least once a week. If you can recite to someone, do it! It’ll help you know your verses much better, and it can bless the person to whom you’re reciting as well.
This is one of the most important aspects. Recite your verses to yourself as you go running or biking in the morning, while you wash the dishes, or as you go to sleep. Think and pray about them — ask God to teach you more about Himself, and stand in awe of Him as you see His glory through His word. Worship Him for His goodness, and allow His word to convict and comfort and transform you.
Memorization is important, but it’s just the first step! The Scriptures have to move from your head and sink into your heart.
May God’s word dwell in you richly and may He bless you as you seek to know Him better!
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