Review it to Glue it

“How in the world do you remember all that Scripture?” A common question with a simple answer. I review!

The human brain doesn’t store everything it comes across. When information is important and you want to remember it, you tell your brain to store it by reviewing the information over and over. Things as simple as learning the days of the week, to more complicated concepts like chemistry symbols, all require memorizing and then reviewing until the repetition alerts your brain to hold on to this data.

Memorizing Scripture and being able to recall it later is done the same way. However, each person’s requirement may vary. For me, it requires hundreds of repetitions to put something into my long term memory. For some people it may take fewer repetitions.

Many who attempt memorizing become discouraged when they take months to learn a passage or a book of the Bible, but then because they don’t review it, they lose what they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Deflated and regretful they assume “I’m just not good at memorizing.”

The solution—get a review system that works for you. I offer three different ways to review, and I’d love to hear others’ suggestions. Adapt these tips into something that works for your lifestyle.

Review System #1: will work for your first 7 books or passages.
After memorizing any book or passage (such as Titus), choose a specific day of the week, and designate that as your weekly review day. For example, on Mondays you will always review the entire book of Titus, even while you’re working on a new memory project. This means that at the end of one year you will have reviewed the book of Titus 52 times. This is moving it closer to long-term memory when you will not have to review as often.

Your next project might be the book of Philippians. After completing Philippians, designate another day of the week to review Philippians—let’s say Tuesdays. Your next completed project will go on Wednesdays, and so on.

This system will work for 7 or fewer passages. Weekly deadlines keep you reviewing the truth you’ve learned. When you have more than 7 passages, the system becomes a burden because you have to double up. It’s time to move on to the next system.

Review System #2: for more than 7 books/passages.
Take all the books/passages you have memorized and list them in the natural order they appear in the Bible. Review your list in order, taking as many days as you need to get it perfect, then return to the beginning. Example:
• Deuteronomy 6
• Ruth
• Psalm 139
• Isaiah 53
• 1 Corinthians 13
• Philippians
• Titus
• Hebrews 11
• 1 Peter

With this system it doesn’t matter if you skip a day or take several days on one passage.
When you complete a new project, insert it into the list where it fits in the order.

Review system #3
Another suggestion comes from my book, page 134-135. After a few years of memorizing, the number of books and passages memorized grows to a very long list. When this happens you end up reviewing each one less frequently. And your most recent project doesn’t get enough review. So here’s my suggestion for your recently finished passage. Insert it into the list every other one, for a few months until you feel it is ready to go into your regular rotation. For example, if 2 Thessalonians is your recently finished project, here’s what that will look like:

• Deuteronomy 6
• 2 Thessalonians
• Ruth
• 2 Thessalonians
• Psalm 139
• 2 Thessalonians
• Isaiah 53
• 2 Thessalonians
• 1 Corinthians 13
• 2 Thessalonians
• etc.

Your greatest probability of success will be if you can devise a system that works for you. Each person has a different schedule, different stage of life, different learning style. Some days you have more time, or more repetitive tasks when you can review at the same time. Some days may be completely off limits. Design a system that works for YOU, and then keep tweaking it as needed.

All of you mega-memorizers out there, please add your advice, tips, suggestions and input. We will all benefit.

12 comments to Review it to Glue it

  • Beverly Schlomann

    My “review method” is a blend of these. I review my newest passage more often, sometimes once every other day or so; then others will be once a week, or when I wake up in the middle of the night and need to get back to sleep . . .

    I can’t say that I go in book order for most — except the Psalms I have memorized. Those I put in order; except Psalm 119 — it’s got its own spot 🙂

    Thank you for the continual encouragement, Janet!

    • Hi Bev, The main thing is to have a system that works for you. Lately I have kept one of my spiral index cards (contains 50 pages) in my car that contains the last 4 memory passages I have done. These are the ones that need the most review. When I get in my car to go somewhere they are right there waiting, and I go through whichever one is next, and then leave it open to the next passage for the next time I get in the car.

  • Noelle

    Because I started memorizing only a few years ago, I have a short list to review. I tried something similar to your System #1, but that didn’t work out.

    The review system I am trying now is like this:

    After completing the first paragraph of memorization in my new project, I stop & review the books & passages I have previously memorized. Then I go back to my new memory project & start adding paragraph 2. After nailing down paragraphs 1 & 2, I review everything again before starting to add paragraph 3. Hope that makes sense!

    Thanks for the encouragement you provide on this website!

    • Hi Noelle, Your comment is helpful because not every system works for every person. If we can develop our own review system that works for us, that’s the most beneficial. In the meantime we can tweak other people’s system to find what works for us. Thanks for sharing.

  • Gary K Derby

    Thank you Janet for being my hero!

    • Not sure what to do with that comment, but my heart’s desire is to point everyone to the One-and-Only, and to the Book that leads us to him. Thank you for your kindness.

  • Lise Anderson

    Thanks Janet for these helpful ideas. I am trying System 3 right now and like the flexibility in reviewing older passages and the consistency of keeping up on newer passages. And whatever I am reviewing, it is all such a blessing and encouragement to be studying Scripture and having it in my mind and heart throughout the day.

    • Hi Lise, One thing you have taught me is when reviewing a book, give more time to the final chapters than the beginning chapters, because we have already reviewed the early ones many many times.

  • Chérie

    Such a timely post.
    This past June 9th marked the 10th year anniversary of all this crazy mega-memorizing. Im 72 chapters in and no way on this planet could I have done this without a review program in place.

    My program is two fold, consisting of the chapter I’m working on typed up into a certain format—in color and posted up in key places in my house. (Laundry room, bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink..etc….), and audio taping myself reciting my chapter using the Scripture Typer app.
    The audio feature automatically replays your recording on repeat. Perfect for driving. I have it playing anytime I drive anywhere and I recite along with it.

    Recently, I started using the main feature of that app, but when the kids were young it wasn’t possible as it requires hands.

    The benefits of review are simple. You have major ammunition which the Spirit brings to mind at just the right time.
    Here is a fantastic example.
    About 6-ish years ago, I read an extraordinary book by Biblical counselor, Dr. Ed T Welch. It was called “SHAME INTERRUPTED”.
    I about came unglued at how phenomenal that book was. It helped me immensely having grown up in a non- functioning family. I had internalized a lot of shame and that book was so eye opening.
    In fact, I wanted every friend I had to read it. I texted every single friend I had something akin to, “Hey do you have shame from your past?”
    (Ya, lame, I know!)
    Not the greatest text to send, but I was just so over the moon excited about this book that I wanted those I loved to read it!

    However, when memories from my past haunt me, do passages from that book come to mind? Nope.
    But Gods Word has supernatural power. The help I get from the Spirit bringing to mind passages from Scripture that soothe my past shame and any present hurt, is what carries me through these last days before I leave this earth or our Lord Jesus comes for me.

    • Hi Cherie, I love what you said. I too have painful memories in my past and I can honestly say that over the years of being immersed in God’s Word, I have been healed of the trauma of my childhood. When bad thoughts revisit I run to God’s Word and the Lord is always there waiting for me. It truly is a Book like no other. It has power to save and to heal and everything else we need for life and godliness.

  • Carmen Cole

    Along with the review system , I record the passage on my iPhone memo and play it while I’m doing things (driving, cooking, make-up, etc.) and recite it along with the recording.

    • Hi Carmen, I have another friend who records herself reciting Scripture, and it helps her a lot. I hope people will try this and see if it works for them.