Review it to glue it

Businessman and business sketch
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 hexagon 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. No magical or mysterious method required.

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 two different ways to review, and I’d love to hear others’ suggestions. Then adapt these tips until it becomes your own.

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.

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.
This system provides regular accountability without the daily deadlines. Take all the books/passages you have memorized and put them in the natural order they appear in the Bible. Review your list in order and then return to the beginning. Example:
Psalm 139
1 Corinthians 13
1 Thessalonians
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 where it fits in the order.

Tweak these review systems to fit your needs.

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

7 comments to Review it to glue it

  • JaneMBS

    Thanx for this reminder to review – my review has mostly been in a haphazard way so this post timely for me.

  • Great article! Thank you so much Janet. Most Christians I know desire to memorize and think they can’t. I try to tell them how long it has taken me to get the books in my brain and how many minutes I review each day to show them it is not instantaneous for me. It is kind of like art work. I am a decorative artist (now from home) , and when my client looks at my work, they think I can practically speak and a butterfly will appear on their wall. They don’t understand that there is a process to it. I have to first find a butterfly I want to study, then draw it and paint it onto their wall, each stroke at a time. “I am not God”, I usually say to them, who “spoke and it came to be”, so I’d be happy to start the process. Use your both of your methods. I have more than 7 passages memorized, but I use a twist on Review system 1. I was finding that I might not be realistic as to how much time It takes me to review a passage and I would stop before I got to the latter chapters of the book. I decided to use the seven days of the week to break down all my passages into chapters plus some. So on day one I did all the Chapter 1’s on day 2 chapter twos.. and so on. I have not yet done Revelation or something very long, so this has worked for me. On days that I had less chapters, I stuck in all my Romans Chapters, or all my Psalms, or Proverbs, Or OT chapters. The main trick for time, for me since I have 2 little ones under 5, and have a hard time concentrating around them, is I put all of my passages on “Remember Me” app for my cel phone, and while I go through the day, I listen to it. You can download most versions! For the Review system 2 I review in order of what I memorized last, since that is the weekest, or I start with what I need spiritually. Any chance I have to recite to my littles, I do, even before they go to bed, however they definitely prefer the stories, like Job 38-42, or Isaiah 6 Thank you for your work and your encouragement.

  • Lise Anderson Brocious

    I have memorized 10 chapters of Luke and realized when I was finishing chapter 10 that I was losing many of my earlier chapters from lack of regular review. After encouragement from Janet, I decided to take the year of 2014 to review my earlier chapters. I have been so blessed to see new things in these wonderful passages that I did not even see when I was learning only one chapter and moving on. Jesus life and ministry to people in various times and places in different chapters illustrates truths to me that I never saw before when I was only looking at one chapter.

    For new chapters (and newly regained chapters) I am so convicted (and really want to encourage of all of you memorizers) that once you have a chapter down really well, take the time to review it just once a week starting immediately. Don’t wait to start reviewing it after it has started slipping away. For example, I have been reviewing chapter 10 almost every week since I “got it” and it is now one of my easier and quicker chapters to review. Janet’s statement to “review it to glue it!” is so accurate and if you will begin that review immediately after you finish memorizing a chapter, it is easier to review and it will glue more quickly and completely. And I am more and more amazed at how God uses review to bless me again and again through those passages that I have grown to love.

  • Rebecca

    Once a week we learn 4 new verses and review one “old” chapter. If we are less structured we find it easy to let the old passages fall away and then they are forgotten.

  • Chérie

    I wish I could say that I have a solid reviewing system that I’ve stuck with, but I actually keep trying new ones. 
    From taking a break from memorizing new chapters, to dividing them up by week and month, I’ve tried many different things but haven’t stuck on one single one that works the best for me. (Note to self….don’t do the taking a break one again….that was complete stupidity but it sounded good at the time….)

    I know. I sound crazy?

    The one thing I am consistent in is that I have audio on my phone of me reciting the chapter or book I’ve memorized. And as I’ve said before, I always recite the verses/chapters/books the exact same way, every single time—having purposely put certain emphasis on certain words to help my brain out.

    So even as I’ve been trying different review systems, the one thing I do is constantly play those audios when I am driving or doing housework. I keep earbuds in my purse in case I’m stuck in a place where there is too much distraction to work on my new verses, but its gonna be awhile (long grocery store lines, doctor offices,etc….).

    I am thankful beyond words for this element of review, because it keeps me from getting behind as I still struggle to find a review system that really works for me and that I stick with.
    I’m sure all of you are aware of Pastor Saeed Abedini’s plight. An American citizen RIDICULOUSLY left by our government in a prison in Iran solely for his Christian faith.

    Pastor Saeed is from my church. So I am reminded daily of how — in an instant— we might not have access to our Bible and we only would have what’s in our memory.

    Review. It’s actually more important than the initial memory process itself. 

    How did we learn our times tables as kids?

    • I too pray for Pastor Saeed regularly, and I always pray that God will sustain him with specific truth from the Scriptures. All he has in his cell is what is stored in his mind, and of course the presence of God— huge.