Where To Begin?

The Road of Your Life
Beginners’ questions give me a rush of adrenaline. I’m eager to help anyone avoid some common pitfalls because I had no one to ask when I started memorizing more than 20 years ago. I began with the book of Ephesians, but I don’t recommend it. I’ve seen too many people quit because a lengthy passage got the best of them. The long road ahead overwhelmed them before they’d built up confidence that they could do this. They hadn’t yet altered their daily routine to accommodate the review that’s required in a long book.

I tell people to start with something small.

Psalm 1 tops my list of perfect places to start. It’s short—only six verses. It addresses the cultural challenge we face today—influence from a secular society contrasted with the influence of God’s Word. And it gives us a visual of someone who succeeds because he meditates on God’s Word day and night. Like a tree planted by streams of water, he bears fruit in season and never withers. Who wouldn’t want to be like that? Psalm 1 takes only one minute to review, proving itself doable for absolutely everyone. When a person first takes on the challenge of memorizing they haven’t yet trained themselves to capture large pockets of time in their day. But everyone has one minute, and you can easily find many one-minute segments throughout your day.

If you’ve already memorized Psalm 1, other suggestions include:
• Psalm 121
• Psalm 100
• Psalm 23
• Psalm 4
• Psalm 8

If you want to start with a book, I recommend Titus. It’s 3 short chapters jam-packed with essential doctrine and practical instruction. In my book His Word in my Heart, I walk the reader day-by-day through the book of Titus, taking a break between each chapter. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn from a book you’ve probably read at least a dozen times. The book of Titus will also raise your confidence that you can memorize an entire book.

Different opinions from our online community of memorizers will balance mine. My friend Lise, jumped right into the book of Luke for her first passage to memorize. I asked her if she wished she’d started with something shorter. She said, “No”. I was surprised. She explained that Luke is a compilation of small stories, and she takes them one at a time. Even a large book when broken into smaller bites becomes doable. Lise says to pick a passage you love that speaks to your heart, and this will keep you motivated.

Our online community offers encouragement, insights, and a place to ask questions. So, I’d love to hear from the community what advice you would offer to beginners. Or, which passage did you start with, and would you recommend it? And for you beginners, this is a great time to ask your questions.

11 comments to Where To Begin?

  • Lise

    I do think God will point you (thru prayer, study, and encouragement) to the place you should start. And through it all, wherever it is, you will learn about Him in a deeper way!

  • I appreciate this post so much! I am a beginner–successfully started with Isaiah 55, which I LOVE still! Then I tried for John 15. That one didn’t go so well–though I did get around half the verses memorized. I just couldn’t seem to keep it straight. Lots of repeating of phrases that seemed to mix it all up in my mind. I appreciate the encouragement in this post, and think I will look at Psalm 1 next–I need the boost of being successful again!

    • Hi Susan, so glad you didn’t give up. It is helpful to look carefully at a passage ahead of time and see if it looks confusing and difficult to memorize. Some passages are just easier, and some passages have a lot of repeated phrases which does make it more challenging. Keep going and you will reap a harvest.

  • Elizabeth

    I am a beginner as well. This post came at a perfect time for me! I just finished memorizing Psalm 91. I have only memorized Psalms so far (1, 103, and 91) but I really want to memorize something from the New Testament next. I don’t know where to begin- I am thinking I will pick a chapter and start with that before trying a book. I have tried to memorize 1 Peter but I became discouraged and gave up… I am thinking if I can build my confidence a bit with a chapter that may help me tackle a book eventually.

    • Hi Elizabeth, Here are some really good stand-alone chapters/passages: 1 Corinthians 13, John 1:1-18, Luke 24, Isaiah 55, Isaiah 53 (start in 52:13), Proverbs 2, 4, 8, any of the stories or parables of Jesus, Christmas story in Luke 1-2.

  • Chérie

    Yay. My favorite topic. I agree whole heartedly about starting small. My foray into this world was accidental as a 4th grade AWANA teacher, and my first memorization was Eph 3:10-20. 
    I had no intention of memorizing anything else at the time, it was a challenge I threw down to my adorable kiddos I was teaching. So I had to do it! 
    So here is what made me want to memorize more. I began memorizing only at night while I did all the boatloads of dishes piled up from a day of homeschooling. After the first 2-3 verses, I began to almost crave saying them. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
    That spurred me on. Doing dishes was just one way, and ANY housework at all and driving became my time to etch those verses in my brain. 
    I did NOT finish Ephesians 3 until a couple months later. I memorized the epic portion of Romans 8:31-39, (my 2nd challenge to the AWANA kids), and then after a couple significant events, was hooked. I went back, finished Ephesians 3, finished Romans 8, and haven’t stopped since. 
    What I learned from the bizarre way I ventured into this way of life, was that “wanting to memorize” and “memorizing” are two completely different things. 
    Memorizing takes realizing you have significant amounts of time in your day, that—as Janet so wisely says, “your hands are busy but your mind is free”, and you usually fill these with worrying, or listening to music. 
    If you say, ” I’ve got to find time to memorize”, it will NEVER happen.

    Let me say that again…it will NEVER happen.

    It’s when you redeem the time you already have that success comes— and you didn’t alter your day at all. You just redeemed it.

    Ok, sorry…..I went off on a tangent….

    Anyway, memorizing an entire chapter is soooo cool, but getting yourself started is of the most importance, so find a portion of scripture that is beautiful to you, whether it is Psalm 1, 121, or something random from the 4 gospels. 

    I’m still at it 5+ years later and I have no more extra time now—than I did then. I can prove it. I tried to post this reply early this morning. I had to stop and start 20 times to get it finished. It’s 1:00pm now For Crying Out Loud! 

  • Tony

    I am so glad that you highlighted Lise in this because it reminded me of, well, me.
    After I memorized Psm 1, I decided to memorize Romans 8. I have come to realize that it takes me roughly (very roughly more often than not a bit longer) a month to memorize a chapter. In many different translations, Romans 8:1 starts with the word therefore. As my wife and I were taking a Precepts course given by a friend of ours in a former church we used to attend, we were taught “when you see the word Therefore, you have to ask yourself, what is the “therefore” there for?” Having read chapter 7 that question is answered in chapter 7. So I thought, ok, once I get comfortable with 8, I will go back and memorize 7, then onto 12. Ok, Tony, back up, if you are going to get THOSE chapters memorized, just to get a couple of chapters, why not start at the beginning, and work your way through? So that’s what I decided to do.

    Thankfully, now, the memorization is fully part of my daily scripture routine, which I happen to do in the morning. It has gotten to be such a part of my routine, if I don’t at least get the memorization aspect in I sort of feel like the proverbial “fly with the wing pulled off”. I just don’t function that well.

    In fact, scripture has gotten to be such a part of my life, I carry either a small complete New/Old Testament bible on me, or a new testament/ Psalms Proverbs at all times. You’ve got me hooked!! Thanks, again.

  • Vickie

    What I am memorizing has to mean something to me in my journey. I started with Romans 8, because to me as a believer, the truths in every verse, were important to know by heart. In more ways than one. I don’t memorize to just know the words, I memorize to know my Lord, and to be transformed and renewed as a Christ follower. I would recommend that new memorizers read the Word first, noting which passages, chapters or books contain truths that the Holy Spirit speaks to them through, or impresses upon their hearts , either comforts them, or inspires them, or admonishes them, or provides a teaching they really want to take hold of, and memorize it. During the process, God will reveal Himself, and the truth, in its context, will grow the faith of the memorizer. I am still new to this, but I am sold out to the practice of memorizing large portions of scripture. The time that is required to memorize and review is truly time well-spent.

    • Lowe


      You have written a great way to find new verses to memorize. I do the same things you mentioned and when I find a verse I need I add it to a list that I keep on a piece of paper and tuck in the back of my Bible. I also add a 1 or 2 word topic to aid me when I’m seeking my next verse to memorize.

      And I wholeheartedly agree with you that the joy of His presence, and seeing Him make me more like Christ is the best reason to learn the Word. But memorizing is not an end in itself (the Pharisees were some of the best memorizers ever!) but merely the means to keeping His commandments and abiding in His love (Jn 15:10)

  • Lowe

    I am passionate about memorizing and meditating on the Word because of the delight of God’s presence! I know that this community focuses on memorizing long passages like chapters and books, but along with the advantages there are also disadvantages to that approach. I have a rather different perspective that I would like to offer.

    I have been training people to memorize and meditate on Scripture for over 30 years, and I encourage people who are just starting to begin very small. Just choose 1 verse per week for 6 weeks, and make sure to choose individual verses that speak to a felt need. When people start to see God use this in their life then joy motivates them do even more. Like starting an exercise routine or a new diet, if people start small and see success then it will make them more confident so that they build habits and they can increase as time goes on.

    The main focus of my ministry, called Abiding Grace, is training people how to memorize, meditate, and apply the Word to their life. I’ve memorized about 2000 verses which includes about 50 chapters (5 NT books: Romans, Philippians, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, Jude) and many individual verses and paragraphs.