How to memorize a bible verse

How to memorize a bible verse

Have you ever sat down to do your Bible study, and in the middle of an otherwise normal chapter, you find a verse that jumps off the page and screams, “This is for you!”?

Your heart beats faster. You underline the verse in your Bible. Maybe you even write the date in the margin. And then your excitement suffers a terrible death because that beautiful verse is destined to the deep, dark recesses of your brain, never to be heard from again.

How to memorize a bible verse

I’ve been there. Done that. Lamented the curse of mommy brain and every other reason I could come up with for my poor memory. But *cue cinematic music* I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

You, my smart friend, CAN memorize key Bible verses. And I’ll show you exactly how.

But before we get to that, I want to make sure you understand just how key verses fit into the grand scheme of deeper Bible study.

Key verses help us dig deeper in our Bible study by becoming anchors for the entire text, making it easy to remember a story or important doctrine by referencing just that one verse. For example, my recollection of Joseph’s story (favored son, sold into slavery by jealous brothers, suffered unjustly in prison, and eventually raised to political power to save the entire nation of Egypt and his father’s family), hangs on just one verse: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Isn’t that neat? Not only does that one verse basically summarize Joseph’s life (13 chapters, if you’re counting), but it also provides a theological lens through which to interpret it, and it gives us an important life principle to hang onto when things are looking grim: God will use everything for good, no matter how bleak the outlook is right now.

Pretty exciting stuff, if you ask me.

So how exactly do we move these verses from paper to memory?

Here are a few methods that have helped me memorize key Bible verses:

  1. Understand the verse in context. This is where memorizing goes hand-in-hand with Bible study. We don’t just take verses out of context and claim them for ourselves (remember the 5 W’s of Bible Study?). As you study the text surrounding your key verse, you’ll begin to understand what the verse really means, and that will help you remember it.
  2. Write the verse in your own words. Engage with the text, and try to summarize what the verse is saying in your own words. You’ll find this steps helps make the verse your own.
  3. Read the verse out loud. Re-read it several times for good measure. You can use these methods to make each read-through interesting and revealing.
  4. Write the verse on an index card. This way you can take the verse with you whereever you go, and pull it out when you have a few moments to spare, like when you’re waiting in line at your favorite fast-food restaurant.
  5. Break down the verse in shorter chunks. If you’re working with an especially long verse or you’re trying to memorize a passage, try working on just a few words at a time. Repeat the first phrase 10 times out loud, until you have a handle on it, and then move to the next phrase. Then combine the two, and so on.
  6. Read the verse several times throughout the day. You don’t have to be weird about this and scare the fast-food cashier with your recitation, but go ahead and pull out the verse when you have a few moments throughout your day and say it to yourself. (Stop lights, grocery store lines, car pickup lines, and any line in general is a good training grounds.) Pretty soon, your brain will turn on autopilot and you’ll be saying it without realizing it.
  7. Use physical motions to go with the verse. Okay, so this may sound a bit dorky, but using motions really helps. Honest. I didn’t do this before because, I’m too cool, thankyouverymuch, but just recently I started memorizing short verses with my two-year-old, and I found that I internalized the verse so much quicker when I used motions. Like, scary fast. Maybe I’ll upload a video of us working on a verse so you can see how this works. Wouldn’t that be cute? ?

Repeat your memorized verses often. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Or so I’m told. And my fledgling French vocabulary is proof. Voulez-vous mangez un muffin aux bleuets avec moi? (Yeah, totally googled that.)

Create a routine to go over your verses often, maybe when you brush your teeth (pardon the flying foaming toothpaste), or when you’re washing dishes. As you slowly work on mastering one verse after another, you’ll be surprised to find yourself memorizing key Bible verses, even though you never thought you could!

Your Turn

  1. Start your Bible study with prayer. If you have a particularly bad memory like me, go ahead and ask God to give you a supernatural dose of memorizing-power. Or maybe just patience in self-discipline. (Or maybe they’re the same thing?)
  2. Read John 5. As you read, be on the looking out for a key verse, a “golden nugget” that encompasses the central truth of today’s passage.
  3. Underline the verse in your Bible, and write it in your notebook.
  4. In your journal write 2-3 sentences about why you think that’s an important verse. What does it mean? How does the context illuminate the truth of that verse?
  5. Using the methods above, work on memorizing that verse today.
  6. Respond to the key verse in prayer. Do you see an attribute of God to praise Him for? Something revealed in your life to confess? Something to thank God for? Anything to ask God to do in your life?

I’d absolutely LOVE to hear what you’re memorizing! Share your key verse online using #deeperbiblestudy. Bonus points if you include a picture of yourself holding your index card in a line of some sorts. Just sayin’.

Summary: Key verses help us remember important truths of Scripture, and they’re like energy boosters for the soul—they contain important truths about who God is, what He calls us to, and what life is all about. Some call these verses fighter verses, and if you memorize them, they make wonderful arsenal to add to your spiritual armor.

How to memorize a bible verse

Ten Tips for Memorizing Bible Verses

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. — Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV)

What does it mean to fix God’s words in your heart and mind? Among other things, it means to be continually conscious of the Bible’s teachings as you go through your daily routine. And one practical way to make sure that God’s words are always close at hand is to memorize verses and passages from the Bible.

At first glance, memorizing Bible verses might seem a strange activity. For many Christians, Bible verse memorization is something kids do in Sunday school, not something that serious adults do. And if you didn’t grow up reciting memorized Bible verses to your Sunday school teacher, the idea of intentionally memorizing parts of a book—even the Book—might seem odd.

But there’s power in the act of memorizing—of becoming so familiar with a word, phrase, or verse that it springs to mind instantly when something happens to trigger the memory. When you’ve truly internalized something, it can stay with you all your life—consider how easy it is to recall the lyrics to pop songs from your youth. And if you can still remember the lyrics to a Bon Jovi album from the ’80s, you’re quite capable of committing a few Bible verses to memory!

To find out the best ways to memorize Scripture, we turned to a truly huge and committed resource—Bible Gateway users! We asked Bible Gateway fans to share their Bible verse memorization tips. We’ve combed through the hundreds of responses and picked out our favorite Bible memory tips. So without further ado, here are…

Ten Tips for Memorizing Bible Verses

1. Choose a verse to memorize that speaks to something in your life right now.

A Bible verse that’s relevant to what you’re going through is easier to memorize than one that speaks to a topic that’s abstract to you.

2. Start small.

Choose a short verse to start with… and make it even shorter by breaking it down into pieces. Memorize the first five words in the verse first, and when you’ve got them down, add the next five. As you become more confident, you can add more words, sentences, and even entire verses—but don’t add anything new until you’ve got the previous words down pat.

3. Write it down.

A vast majority of Bible Gateway fans suggested this simple strategy: write the verse you’re memorizing down on paper. But don’t just write it once; write it many times—five or ten times is a good start (and some people write out their memory verses up to 50 times!). Physically writing the words out is an extremely useful tactile memory aid.

4. Say it out loud.

Just as writing a verse out can help in memorizing it, so speaking the words aloud is an excellent way to burn them into your memory. One person suggested turning the radio off during your commute to work or school each day and reciting your memory verse out loud instead!

5. Incorporate the verse into your prayers.

When you pray, include elements of the verse in your words to God. Pray that God will help you understand and apply the verse to your life. Pray for God’s help in fixing the verse in your heart and mind.

6. Put it everywhere.

Many people suggested writing your memory verse out on multiple index cards or sticky notes (combine this with tip #3 above!) and putting them all over the place, so that you’ll see the verse many times throughout your day. Tape the verse to your bathroom mirror or computer monitor. Tuck it into your purse, lunch sack, car glove compartment, school textbook, pockets… anywhere you’ll see it. One person suggested making the verse your computer desktop background, and another goes so far as to laminate the verse and hang it in the shower!

7. Use music to help.

Do you find it much easier to remember lyrics than spoken words? Try setting the Bible verse to a simple tune (perhaps repurposing a song you already know well) that you can sing to yourself. (If this sounds like a strange suggestion, consider that many famous hymns and worship songs use Bible verses as their lyrics, and were written specifically as aids for Bible verse memorization.)

8. Make it a game.

Turn the act of memorizing into a personal challenge! You might write the verse out on flashcards, leaving key words blank, and quiz yourself. Get some friends or family members to help quiz you, or even to memorize the verse along with you and encourage/challenge you.

9. Translate the verse into a different language.

This tip isn’t for everyone, obviously, but several Bible Gateway fans suggested that if you’re comfortable in more than one language, try translating your verse into a different language. Translation requires an intense focus on the meaning and language of a verse—an obvious help for memorization.

10. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Whatever strategy you follow in memorizing a Bible verse, do it repeatedly. Write it down, speak it out loud, sing it out, pray it—but whatever you do, do it over and over until it’s a natural, reflexive action. The goal isn’t to reduce it to a mindless, repeated activity, but to slowly press the verse into your memory through repetition. Repeat your memorization activity over the course of several hours, days, or even weeks to pace yourself—there’s no prize for memorizing a Bible verse fastest; the point is to internalize it over time. And that means you shouldn’t be discouraged if it takes a while for the verse to “stick”—keep at it, and it will take root!

If you’ve never tried memorizing a Bible verse before, it’s much easier than you think! Pick one or two of the strategies above and give them a try, adapting your strategy as you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. One thing is certain: you’ll never regret spending more time focusing intently on God’s Word. And there’s nothing quite so wonderful as an encouraging Bible verse springing forth from memory at just the time you need to hear it.

(These are just a few of the many memorization tips that Bible Gateway fans shared. Be sure to take a look through the hundreds of responses to our question about Bible memorization strategies.)

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When it comes to memorizing verses, the psalmist put it best:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11 NIV

How to memorize a bible verse

That’s just one of hundreds of Bible verses that many children memorize in Sunday school. This one has stuck with me throughout the years along with many others.

Take a Bible Quiz!

In my high school years, I gave up sports for a different activity – Bible Quiz. For those who have never heard of Bible Quiz, it’s an activity in the AG churches that brings together youth to quiz them on different books of the Bible each year.

Yes, it sounds dorky, but we ended up memorizing over 2,000 verses that sharpened our minds and strengthened our faith!

You heard right, over 2,000 verses. My first year was the book of Luke (1151 verses), next was I & II Corinthians (693 verses), Gospel of John (879 verses), Hebrews and I&II Peter (469 verses).

It was quite a challenge to not only memorize bible verses, but entire chapters of the Bible, and it would take quite a while. But when you could simply quote entire passages of the Bible, it was an awesome feeling!

Every day after school from 4:00-6:00 I would sit down and try to memorize a few new verses. My method took a while, but the verses stuck. I’d spend about 20 minutes per verse and move onto the next one, adding about 6 new verses a day. The next day, I’d review what I did the day or two before and I’d always try to quote through everything on the weekend to make sure I was ready for the quiz matches.

How I Memorize Bible Verses:

Realize that I would spend 1-2 hours a day – it was what I did instead of playing sports, so it took a lot of dedication, just like any sport’s practice would.

Pre-Game Memorization

1. Highlight Names and Underline Places

Before I’d even start studying a block of scripture, I would read through it and highlight names in yellow and underline places in orange. This technique will help you to visually remember passages better and will act like a ‘roadmap’ when you think back to the page of scripture.

2. Highlight Old Testament Quotes in Green

Did you realize that the New Testament is full of quotes from the Old Testament? Authors like Paul were extremely well-versed in the Old Testament and would use these verses to emphasize the Gospel of Christ. It’s worth highlighting these as additional points of reference.

Memorization is very visual! If you spend time memorizing a passage of scripture, you’ll literally close your eyes and envision the page in your mind. So highlighting can really help you to memorize more effectively!

3. Read the Entire Passage of Scripture

Read through the chapter and get an understanding of what’s going on.

My Memorization Process

Not everyone memorizes things the same, but if you’re curious to know how I was able to memorize 500 verses a year, this is it:

  1. Work on one verse at a time – not multiple verses.
  2. Read the verse aloud 20 times – don’t rush through this part.
  3. Read the verse aloud once, then speak the verse once from memory (10 times).
  4. Quote the verse without mistakes 5 times in a row. Once you can do this, move to the next verse.

Sometimes going through the process would take 15 minutes per verse, other times it would be about 20 minutes per verse. It’s not about spending a certain number of minutes – it’s about repetition and using your eyes, ears, and voice to get each verse down.

Are You Up for the Challenge?

Even if you could only spend 1 hour a day memorizing scripture, you could easily memorize 3-4 verses a day. That’s over 20 verses in one week – about an entire chapter in many books of the Bible. Imagine being able to quote an entire chapter after just one week of studying.

Trust me, it’s possible!

When was the last time you memorized a verse in the Bible? Here are a couple chapters to consider for your challenge: Hebrews 1, Luke 6, and 1 Corinthians 13.

The most effective way to memorize Scripture is in short daily lessons. To begin, decide on which verses you would like to memorize. What is your goal?

  • To memorize Scripture about wisdom?
  • To memorize Scripture about praising God?
  • To memorize Scripture that focuses on doctrine, Scripture that explains the gospel?
  • To memorize Scripture that guides you in your daily living?

There is no wrong answer. All Scripture is beneficial to us and worthy of memorization, and any Scripture you memorize will bring you closer to God.

Memorize Scripture in 3 Steps

Step 1: Read and Meditate

The most common way most of us try to memorize Scripture is to read it over and over again. Then try to say it back to ourselves. This works really well, especially with little children.

Reading to memorize Scripture is effective, and a great place to start. Reading the verses we want to memorize gives us understanding of the meaning of God’s Words and helps us to meditate on God’s Words. In the Bible, we read in Joshua 1:8:

Step 2: Write It Into Your Heart

Reading the Scripture is a great place to start, but there is more.

When I was in college, I had to memorize large amounts of material for many of my classes, especially history. And what I quickly learned is that the fastest and easiest way to memorize any information is to write it down.

When we write, we interact with information in a more personal, intimate way. When we write we interact with each word, impressing it upon our minds. In fact, Scripture tells us in Proverbs 3:3:

To really remember God’s Word, we need to write it into our hearts.

  • The process helps us to focus upon the words and their meaning, giving us a deeper understanding of God’s Word.
  • Writing Scripture has us internalize and digest what we write. What we digest becomes a part of us.
  • Writing Scripture helps us to remember. The physical act of writing helps us to remember much more easily what we are to trying to memorize.

Step 3: Recall the Verse

Recalling the verses you are memorizing is the hardest step, and is a test of the effectiveness of your methods. As you start to memorize Scripture, test your ability to recall the Scripture. If you are having difficulty, it it is often due to the inability to recall a few keywords. The key to memorizing hinges on keywords at the beginning of phrases that we already know. Most of us know a ton of Scripture, but can’t recall it at will. When the preacher is speaking, we can finish the passages he is reciting!

The problem is our inability to recall those keywords that begin the passages we already familiar with. When you can’t remember a keyword, highlight that word in the Scriptures you have written down. Repeat just the keyword a few times until it sticks in your memory. Those keywords will enable you to recall Scripture much more easily.

Putting the 3 Steps Together

To memorize Scripture, the process of reading, writing, and recalling is the most effective method. The problem is that most of us don’t have to time to put the different parts of the process together in way that helps us to memorize Scripture quickly and easily. That was my problem. And that is why I came up with The Scripture Memory System.

The Scripture Memory System incorporates the 3 steps above: reading, writing, and recalling. The Scripture Memory System is a self-contained system that organizes the bible verses into manageable weekly passages (usually 3 to 6 verses). With this system, you begin by reading the passage to be memorized and writing it in the space provided.

After you are familiar with the passage, words from the passage are removed, including those all important keywords. You read the passage, mentally supplying the missing words. In no time, you are able to easily supply those missing words and those keywords that will trigger your memory. Because the memory system focuses on keywords, it will only take you a few minutes per day to memorize your weekly passage.

How to memorize a bible verse

When you think about memorizing the Bible, do you feel guilty and defeated? It’s one of those activities that you know is good for you but that can be hard to do consistently — like praying or exercising or eating well or managing money wisely.

With the New Year here, I want to encourage you: you can memorize Scripture this year. It does not take superhuman skill or fanatic devotion to write God’s word on your mind and heart. It requires some passion, planning, and persistence. But before I give some suggestions for Scripture memory, we need to address three of the main reasons Christians don’t consistently memorize the Bible.

1. I don’t have time to memorize the Bible.

Are you wisely stewarding the time God gives you? To answer, it’s helpful to consider a time-management grid:

How to memorize a bible verse

If you are typical, then you want to spend more time in quadrant 2, but you actually spend most of your time in quadrants 1 and 3. What is urgent dictates what you do.

And when you feel pressured to complete urgent tasks, that tempts you to unwind by escaping to quadrant 4. Perhaps you fritter away time by consuming social media candy — a cat video, a feel-good story, so-called “breaking news” about a celebrity you don’t really care about. Social media can be like a magnet in quadrant 4 that constantly pulls you in and keeps you longer than you want to stay.

That’s why productivity gurus emphasize that you should do important things first. Stephen Covey often demonstrated this in seminars by placing a large clear cylinder on a table along with some big rocks, medium-sized rocks, little rocks, and sand. The big rocks represent items in quadrant 2. The only way all the items could fit in the cylinder is to put the big rocks in first and the sand in last.

For a Christian, memorizing the Bible goes in quadrant 2 — important but not urgent. I’m not going to repeat reasons you should memorize the Bible — including big chunks of the Bible. But if you really believe that memorizing the Bible is important, then it should be part of your daily routine. It’s one of the big rocks.

If you need help revamping how you organize your time, read Tim Challies’s Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity.

2. I don’t feel like memorizing the Bible.

We often don’t feel like doing what we should do.

Kids don’t always feel like doing their schoolwork or household chores. But parents try to train their children to consistently do what they’re responsible for. Parents don’t always feel like shepherding their children well when they’re squabbling. But that’s what faithful parenting entails. A physically healthy employee might not feel like going to work. But responsible people go to work whether or not they feel like it.

I don’t always feel like keeping a disciplined plan for strength training and eating, but I’ve consistently done it for about the past year and a half. It’s now ingrained into my routine to the point that it’s automatic; I don’t deliberate whether or not to do it each day. And I’ve grown to enjoy it more and more. I know it’s good for me, I’m feeling better, and it’s improving my health and energy level so that I can serve others better.

It takes discipline to do what we don’t always feel like doing. A strategic way to approach those activities is to develop healthy routines. That’s a way to fight for joy. We exist to glorify God by enjoying him forever. We most glorify God when he most satisfies us. And memorizing the Bible is one of the richest ways that God satisfies us.

The main reason to memorize the Bible is not to accumulate more data in our brains. It’s a way for us to enjoy God. Activities such as prayer and Bible reading and Bible memory are spiritual disciplines or means of grace. They are activities that God has designed to satisfy us with God himself.

If you need help revamping how you practice the means of grace, read David Mathis’s Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines.

3. It’s hard for me to memorize the Bible.

Do you know your birthdate? Your phone number? Your address?

There are certain facts that you have already memorized. You may even memorize some information without trying to — such as recipes you often use, statistics about your favorite sports teams and players, biographical information about your favorite actors or musicians, or jingles from commercials you heard as a child. God has given you an amazing mind. And your mind includes the capacity to memorize.

Your mind is like a muscle, and memorizing is mental exercise. Memorizing is to your mind what working out is to your body. Memorizing makes your mind stronger, healthier, sharper, more energetic. And the more you work at memorizing, the better you get at it.

Memorizing Bible passages is hard work. But it’s not that hard. You can do it.

If you need help with strategies to memorize the Bible, check out my article “11 Steps to Memorizing an Entire Book of the Bible” and Joe Carter’s five-part series on using memorization to increase Bible knowledge and develop a sanctified imagination.

How Can I Start?

1. Start small. Something is better than nothing — even if it’s spending just sixty seconds a day memorizing. You may not be able to run a marathon today, but could you walk a lap around the track — just a quarter-mile?

2. Choose a feasible plan. Here are three plans to consider.

First, you can memorize passages that others have helpfully collected, such as the Topical Memory System by the Navigators or Fighter Verses by Truth78. (My wife and children memorize Fighter Verses with our church. Some of our friends recorded the passages as songs to make them more memorable.)

Second, you can memorize a small book of the Bible (such as Ephesians, Philippians, or James) or a small portion of the Bible (such as Psalms 1–2, Matthew 5–7, Romans 8, or Revelation 21–22).

Third, you can memorize a collection of passages that produce delight, comfort, and awe or that help you fight a particular sin (such as anger, anxiety, bitterness, covetousness, impatience, joylessness, judgmentalism, laziness, lust, pride, or worldliness).

3. Stick with it. Set aside a small block of time every day to memorize the Bible, and don’t miss a day for 100 straight days. Be consistent. On average it takes about 66 days for a behavior to become automatic.

4. Memorize with someone else in your church. Team up with a friend or a group of friends in your church, and be accountable to each other as you memorize.

With God’s help, you can consistently memorize the Bible this year. Godspeed!

Memorizing Bible verses is an important way to get God’s Word inside our hearts so that it can transform us. The psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). As we intentionally make God’s Word an integral part of our thoughts, we begin to see sin the way God does. But memorizing can be difficult for many people. Even so, there are a few techniques that may help make it easier. The following are some tips to encourage the memorization of God’s Word:

1. Read the entire chapter in one sitting over and over again. Memorization is easier when we understand the context. Many verses are part of a bigger idea, and, by understanding that idea, isolated verses make more sense. By reading an entire passage, we may decide to include a verse or two before or after the selected scripture to make a more complete thought. Reading the whole passage many times makes it more familiar, and we find it easier to memorize that which is familiar.

2. Handwrite the selected verses on notecards, and take them with you. By working on the verses a little at a time throughout the day, we are also keeping God’s truth foremost in our minds. By writing only a few words of the verse on each card, we gain a sense of accomplishment when we master a card. Breaking up the verse also makes it feel more manageable.

3. Find a memory buddy. Memorizing with a friend helps keep us accountable and motivated. If the friend gets ahead, natural competitiveness kicks in, and we want to keep up. Having someone sharing our memorization journey also gives us opportunities to exchange thoughts about what the verse means to us and how God wants us to apply it. In doing so, we do more than simply repeat words in order. We allow the truth of them to go deeper where they take root and bear fruit.

4. Incorporate meditation as part of the memorization (Psalm 1:1–2). Meditation is deep and focused thinking about the personalized application of a specific truth. The Bible encourages us to meditate on the Word: “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (Psalm 119:15). When we meditate on the meaning of a particular passage and consider what it means to our lives, we go further than simply memorizing. We are obeying Jesus’ command to abide in Him and allow His words to abide in us (John 15:7). Memorizing and meditating on Bible verses is a good way to abide in God’s Word.

5. Read and recite the verse aloud. Or sing it. As we see it, say it, and hear it, we are using a variety of our senses and helping our brain store the information. The more “actively” we participate in the learning of a Bible verse, the more distinct that verse becomes in our long-term memory, and thus the more memorable it becomes. This is also why using hand motions can often help a child learn a song or memorize a Bible verse.

6. For those with artistic flair, illustrating a Bible verse is a good way to memorize it. Reducing the words to drawings or symbols requires a different part of the brain and may help cement the ideas in lasting ways. Illustrations also help children memorize. Encouraging children to draw their own pictures helps them personalize the verses and learn to meditate on God’s Word.

When we have memorized significant portions of Scripture, God uses it to speak to us. For example, if we are praying about a decision, in the midst of our prayer a verse memorized long ago may float unbidden into our minds. We weren’t trying to think of a verse, and the one brought to mind isn’t always the one we would have chosen for an answer. But, because we are abiding in His Word, the Lord is free to use it to answer our questions.

We can also incorporate memorized verses into our own prayers and pray them back to God. In that way, we have the assurance that we are praying in His will (1 John 5:14). When we have worked to memorize passages of Scripture, they naturally weave their truths into our prayers, correct us when we are praying wrongly, and reflect what our hearts are trying to say (Romans 8:27). When we are committed to hiding God’s Word in our hearts, He will bless our efforts and use those verses to help us grow (1 Peter 2:2).

The instructions and video below outline an easy-to-use system to help your family members develop the habit of memorizing and remembering Scripture. By spending just five or ten minutes a day, you and your children can learn and retain hundreds of verses.

First, a word about memorizing, or recitation. The Charlotte Mason method of Recitation is not cumbersome, yet works amazingly well. The method is simply this: once or twice each day read aloud the verse or passage you are memorizing. As the words become familiar, the family members should join in saying the parts they know. Continue the one or two readings a day until all family members can recite the Scripture together with confidence.

It doesn’t matter how long the passage is. In fact, your family should memorize longer passages regularly. Simply once or twice each day read the entire passage through until everyone can recite it together. Don’t worry about how many days it takes for everyone to memorize the selected Scripture. Hiding God’s Word in your heart is not a race; it’s a lifelong habit.

Helpful Resources

  • Not sure what to memorize? See our Verses List for suggestions. Our recommended verses are also available as free download of printable verse cards or you can purchase pre-printed sets.
  • A big thanks to Helen Jimmie who created and shared this PDF template of tabbed divider cards you can print and cut out: Divider cards with tabs
  • Looking for a beautiful box for your verse cards? We have a handcrafted wooden Scripture memory box available in our store.
  • A homeschool dad created the Scripture Box app to make the whole process automatic.

Written Instructions

Step One: Get an index card box and forty-one tabbed dividers that fit inside it. It doesn’t matter if the dividers have letters on them; you can flip them over and use the other side for labeling.

Step Two: Label the dividers as follows and place them in the box in this order:

  • 1 divider — Daily
  • 1 divider — Odd
  • 1 divider — Even
  • 7 dividers — Days of the Week (Sunday, Monday, etc.)
  • 31 dividers — Numbered 1-31

Step Three: Copy onto index cards (or slips of paper) any verses your family already knows. Record both the reference and the text of the passage. If you don’t know any yet, don’t worry — you will very soon. Place the verses you already know behind the numbered dividers, distributing them evenly.

Next write cards or papers for verses you want to memorize. Put one verse card or paper behind the Daily divider; this will be the passage you’ll work on memorizing first. Then stack the rest of the verses to be learned in front of the Daily divider to learn at a later time. At the beginning, you won’t have any verses in the Odd and Even or Days of the Week slots. Don’t worry, they’ll fill in; see the next two steps.

Step Four: Each day you will say together the verses behind four dividers:

  • Daily
  • Odd or Even
  • Day of the Week
  • Date of the Month

So if today is Tuesday, the 3rd, you will say the verses behind Daily, Odd (because 3 is an odd number), Tuesday, and 3. The next day (Wednesday, the 4th), you will say the verses behind Daily, Even, Wednesday, and 4. Keep in mind that only the verse behind Daily is a new one that you are memorizing; all the others are just review.

Step Five: As you master the verses behind the Daily divider, advance that card and move the replaced verses farther back in the box. So when you have memorized a Daily, move it behind either the Odd or Even divider. Move the verse that was in that Odd or Even slot back to a Day of the Week slot. And move the verse it replaces in the Day of the Week slot back behind a numbered divider. You can then put a new verse or passage to memorize behind the Daily divider and you’re ready to go again.

In this way, you will review a new verse every day, then graduate to every other day, once a week, and finally, once a month. Use the system every day of the month and you will review all the verses you know every month of the year! Of course, not all months have thirty-one days; the verses behind 31 will be reviewed seven months out of the year. We recommend putting verses that you know quite well behind that number since it gets reviewed less frequently.

When you have advanced enough verse cards that you have one placed behind each numbered divider, start at 1 again and add another card to each. Soon you’ll have several cards behind each numbered divider. And eventually, you’ll have memorized so many verses that you’ll have enough cards to expand to two boxes! What a wonderful milestone that will be!

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How to memorize a bible verse

One of my professors in college was really old. I can hear everyone asking: “How old was he?” (No, his social security number wasn’t 7 . ) Let’s put it this way: He was the founder of the college at which I was studying (Multnomah in Portland, Ore.), and the school was celebrating the half-century mark of its founding while I was there! In fact, Dr. John Mitchell was over the age of 90 when he taught the two classes I took from him. He continued to teach well into his mid-90s.

Not surprisingly, he was getting forgetful about some things by the time I had him as a teacher, but what he definitely was not forgetting were the Bible verses he had memorized. His ability to recall Bible verses was astounding. I do not know this for a fact, but I would guess that he had all of the New Testament and large sections of the Old Testament committed to memory. All of his students were profoundly impacted by his immersion in the Scriptures.

I only had one opportunity to sit and talk with him while I was a student. I had a single question to ask him that day: “How did you come to memorize so much of the Bible?” He answered, “Well, I never really tried to memorize.” (Oh no, I thought, this isn’t going to be very helpful ….) “But before I prepare to preach a series of sermons on a book of the Bible, I first read it out loud 50 times before preaching it.” (OK, this might be helpful.) “Since I preached a lot in my younger years,” (… now that is an understatement; read his biography!) “I had lots of opportunities to read passages over and over again.”

Dr. Mitchell’s comments that day were a helpful turning point for me in my own commitment to memorize the Scriptures. I had already tackled some large chunks of the Bible and committed them to memory, but the process of getting there had been rather painful. Rote memory (“look at the verse, cover it with your hand, look into the air and try to quote it by memory, uncover the verse with your hand to see what you missed, fix whatever mistakes you made, try again”) was hard work, and the results were not always satisfying from a long-term, remember-what-you-memorized standpoint.

After that single conversation with Dr. Mitchell, I changed tactics. From then on, before traveling down the “rote road,” I would read the passage I wanted to memorize 50 times out loud with great emphasis. Then — and only then — I would try the rote method. I learned three things by doing it this way:

  1. I discovered that I had already memorized most of the passage I was trying to learn before I ever really started to try to memorize it.
  2. I found out that the process of reading a passage over and over again in-and-of-itself became a wonderful means of God working his grace in my life. I wasn’t just learning words, I was thinking about where the passage was going. God used it to help me understand the passage better, to think about its implications in my life, and to impact my actions and affections.
  3. I discovered that this process helped immensely in holding in my long-term memory the passages I had memorized. It is a far better process for retention.

So, why don’t you try it yourself? Here is a summary of the process.

Step 1: Begin by selecting a passage of Scripture that takes approximately 15 minutes to read out loud. Here is a short list of New Testament passages that would fall into this category that also would probably yield you a lot of personal spiritual fruit: Matthew 5-7; John 14-17; Romans 6-8; Philippians (all); Colossians (all); 2 Timothy (all); Hebrew 11-13; James (all); 1 Peter (all); 1 John (though this one is tough because of how cyclical it is).

Step 2: Read your passage through once or twice a day aloud. Keep track of how many times you have read it through.

Step 3: Once you have read it aloud 50 times, then try to rote memorize it. Keep working on it faithfully until you can get through the entire passage by memory.

Step 4: Quote through it at least 25 times without looking to fix it in your memory. An additional step you can take that would ease the process would be to read your passage onto a digital recorder and listen to it whenever you can as you drive, walk, cook or wait for something. Your own recorded voice will work a little better than someone else’s voice, since it will match the intonation of your daily oral readings, but you can use a prerecorded section if you prefer.

I’ll close with this thought: If you started today, read aloud through Philippians once a day for 50 days, spent the following 15 days doing the rote-memory thing, reviewed for another 25 days, you could have all of Philippians memorized in three or four months by only spending a relatively painless 15 minutes a day doing it. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

How to memorize a bible verse

I was desperate for encouragement but couldn’t even open my Bible. As my tears fell, the words I could not read welled up inside instead.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . .” (Ps. 139:13–14). Unbidden, my soul remembered its truest story, the story that my present suffering was threatening to smash and scatter into the wind.

A month after I turned 20, my body suddenly became a place of pain rather than possibility. In a matter of days, I could no longer walk because of severe joint pain and inflammation. I sat on my dorm bed, and for a few minutes I tried to uncoil my swollen hands to turn the pages of my Bible, to no avail.

In that suffering, the Word hidden in my heart started countering my fear. I was confused and craving comfort, but God’s story was alive inside of me, welcoming me into the wonder that I am loved at my weakest.

God’s Word became a living part of my memory long before I most needed it. Many summers during my childhood, my Presbyterian church memorized an entire chapter of Scripture together, including the psalm that bubbled up in me that afternoon in college. Our pastor printed verses on colored paper and posted them on every wall and bathroom stall. Each Sunday evening we would gather in the warmth of the setting sun, sitting in lawn chairs in quiet Michigan backyards, where word by word we repeated passages of Scripture together. It was before our eyes, on our lips, in our hearts, and in our midst.

Scripture memory was also a central part of my education at my conservative Baptist school. But instead of shared joy, there were stars on charts. At church, I learned .

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Memorizing the word of God is not just for children. As adults
it is a spiritual discipline that also nurtures our faith. Everyone is
encouraged to take these simple verses and memorize them. The reason we memorize
Scripture is that it allows us to think upon God’s word to us and reflect upon
the application in our lives. The Holy Spirit also often uses what we have
memorized to remind us at the right moment. We also encourage parents to review
these verses with their children at the dinner table. (Make it a fun thing to
do! No need to get uptight about it!) May we truly live a life under the
guidance of God’s Word!

Encouragement from History

In history, the Israelites of early centuries as well as the
monks of the middle ages memorized the entire book of psalms. (They did sing
through the entire book of psalms once a month after all!) The famous English
poet John Milton had memorized the entire Bible. This was especially meaningful
to him since he went blind in later life but then had the Scriptures always with
him even when he couldn’t read with his eyes. In places like China, during the
time when the Bible was banned, Christians would each memorize a book of the
Bible so that they could always have the Word of God in their community. They
would then teach others to memorize so that the legacy would not be lost. Talk
about an oral tradition!

The Example of Jesus

It is also rather obvious that Jesus knew the Old Testament
(the only Bible they had) by heart. He used verses of scripture to answer the
devil when he was tempted. He quoted the Scriptures and interpreted them from
rote. Even on the cross, he recited the words of the psalms. “My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me,” was not a cry of despair, but the opening lines of
psalm 22. “Into your hands I commit my Spirit,” are the words of psalm 31:5. In
all occasions, Jesus’ knowledge of the Bible was not just a surface exercise but
a way of life.

How to Memorize Bible Verses

For those of you new to Bible memorization, the here is a brief
guide. Always say the reference before and after the actual passage (e.g.
“Matthew chapter twenty-eight, verse nineteen”) as this will allow you to share
the verse with another person in the future or for your own reading. Then read
and memorize the passage phrase by phrase. When you have memorized one phrase,
just add on the next one. Once you have the entire passage memorized, repeat it
throughout the day. Some people like to put it on post-it notes on their mirror
so they can test themselves in the morning or evening when they wash up. Others
like to say the verses at stop-lights. Whatever works for you is good! Generally
speaking, adding one verse a week is very doable. For most people, if they can
recite a verse every day for one month, it will enter into their long-term
memory. This means that you will have about 4 verses to review daily. A general
review of all the verses you know once a month or every two months may be
helpful.

Memory Verses

These are the verse our children are memorizing. They are
simple phrases just to get them started. You may wish to memorize the entire
verse or even the passages surrounding them.