You Answered



Our question this month was:

What are some of the mechanics of memorizing a book (or long passage) that trip you up? 

First, a huge THANK YOU to everyone for participating. I’m so thrilled that our community of memorizers is working the way I had envisioned—encouraging one another, sharing ideas and tips, and spurring one another on in our pursuit of knowing and loving God more.

I think we’re all relieved that we’re not the only one who gets mixed up.

One time I was asked to recite the book of Titus for a Sunday School class. I got to the part in chapter 3 that says, “This is a trustworthy saying…,” and my brain jumped to 2 Timothy chapter 2 “Here is a trustworthy saying…” After a few more verses I realized I was in the wrong book. I love Karen Burrough’s mention of Scripture Stew. It sounds like we can all relate.

Here are your answers to our question and I’m adding a few of mine:

  • Greetings and closings
  • Prepositions
  • Repeated phrases/similar wording
  • Lists
  • Connectors: and, for, or, therefore, because
  • Dialogue: he said, he replied, he answered
  • Pronoun changes: Paul frequently changes “I” to “we” and back again

Your suggestions were SO HELPFUL, and I’m adding a few of mine:

  • For similar verses print them out and compare the changes. Write out the words on top of one another and highlight the changes. Meditate on the changes. Cherie uses a different cadence when she finds a similar phrase.
  • Do not memorize 2 similar letters back to back (Colossians and Ephesians). Wait until one is in long-term memory.
  • Melissa and Sue mentioned how crucial it is to get the verses right/perfect before moving on, even if it takes several days to get it. Otherwise you may always struggle with those same verses even years later.
  • For lists, write in the margin next to the verse, the first letter of each item in the list. E.g.  e e i a l c r . Memorize the list while looking at the letters. Soon you will see the letters in your head every time you get to that verse. It’s IMPORTANT to know that the brain can memorize two things at once.
  • Links for kinks: when you struggle with remembering what comes next, look for a link that you can make from one verse to the next. E.g. One paragraph ends with the word ever. The next paragraph begins with, Even though…. Draw circles around the words and connect them with a line. Every time you review you will see the links. Eventually you will see the links in your head.
  • Flags for snags: When you begin to memorize a verse that you realize is a repeat from earlier in the book, or, is also in another book, draw a red flag in the margin to the left of the verse. Then go to the other place where the verse appears and draw the same red flag in the margin. Every time you review your passage you will see the flag and it alerts you to pause and think, “Don’t go on auto-pilot.”

A few more tips can be found in my book HIS WORD IN MY HEART (2013 version), chapter 9, beginning on page 129.

I close by reminding you what John Piper said in last Friday’s video. Our enemy, the devil, hates you and your family and your God.” Memorizing Scripture is a powerful weapon in our arsenal. Satan doesn’t want you to memorize and he will do anything to get you all mixed up and discouraged so that you want to quit. Let’s be there for each other and help each other through the rough spots.

That’s why we have this community. I’m so proud of each of you!!!!!

Please share any ideas or suggestions you didn’t get to share on this topic. 

7 comments to You Answered

  • One other thing to mention. This is one of the many benefits of a Scripture memory group. We are able to help each other work through some of the sticky mechanics of some passages. Let me know if you have a group you’d like to register, or if you are looking for a group.

  • Lise Anderson Brocious

    Thank you to all my brothers and sisters in Christ for sharing these memorization tips. I desire to have these verses in long term memory but continue to struggle to find the way to do that. Your tips were so helpful.

    Janet, God has given you the gift of encouragement and I am so thankful that you share it so freely with all of us. God has used you to point so many of us to memorization as a way to spend time with God and know Him better!

  • Joy S

    Dr. William Evans wrote a book that has some helpful information in it. You can read it at Dr. William Evans was the first graduate from Moody and he memorized the whole Bible in KJV and the Whole New Testament in ASV. Chapter 6 on “Attention” is very helpful for memorizing lists. He has a list of 100 words showing people how to memorize them forwards and backwards associating each word with the last word. (Hopefully this isn’t repeat info from Janet’s book — I haven’t had the blessing to read it yet.)

    Also, I am amazed at times when the Lord helped me memorize. This happened two times, and I will share it since the info He gave may help those memorizing the same passage. Memorizing the fruit of the Spirit out of KJV I always had trouble with four of them. Then all of a sudden, and I wasn’t even trying to find an acronym, the Lord put G G F M in my mind. Boy, does that sound like Tigger saying “T T F N, Tah tah for now”! Why did that pop into my mind? All of a sudden I thought that it could be the order for the four fruit of the Spirit I was having trouble with, and it was! Gentleness, Goodness (in alphabetical order) then faith, meekness. I already knew Temperance was the last and already knew the first ones.

    He did the same for the list in Ephesians 4:11. I always got hung up on the first three, and then He gave me the word ape – Apostles… prophets… evangelists… Again, I wasn’t even trying to find a memory aid, it just popped into my head! The Lord does truly help us memorize!

    • Joy, thanks so much for sharing the link and your tips. God does help us because he knows we’re putting in the effort and he wants to help us.

  • Chérie

    To me, this “we want to know” question really brought home how blessed I am to have this community. It is amazing. To be able to share the struggles of the nuts and bolts of this passion, really shows how like minded we memorizers are. Knowing I’m not just some “lone ” weirdo with a bizarre obsession for memorizing the Bible, has given me more confidence to share. Case in point, I was so bummed (at first!) last week when a (very) old crown broke. But when I got in with my dentist and he started working on the new one, he was mentioning something he had been studying about in the book of James, and I said, “that’s mine”… , and of course he and the dental assisstant looked puzzled, so I laughed and explained about my last 5 years memorizing, about our community and Janet’s book, and they were fascinated. He began questioning me about the whole process and how it is possible with a crazy life like mine. I told him that maybe he could try Psalm 1 or Psalm 121 to start, and with a serious look on his face, he said,” But I want to memorize ‘James’….?” I said, “You can…I promise you…one verse a day…” He said he was going to seriously think about starting and his awesome dental assistant wrote down Janet’s name and the name of the book, and said she was going to buy it, and try to start memorizing as well. Yay!

    • Hi Cherie, There’s a saying, “each one reach one”. That’s what we’re doing, reaching out one person at a time, sharing how life-transforming it is to get soaked in God’s Word. To God be all the praise for His incomparable Word—there’s nothing like it.

  • Josh

    What I do about these problems is to use the technique of memory theater, used by St. Thomas Aquinas. You imagine a room with things to help you memorize the words by associating them with the images.

    For example, let’s say the verse is Philippians 3:8: “Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ:”

    For this, I imagine a room. First, I see a fur coat and notice it growing more fur. Fur, more. This reminds me of “furthermore.” Then I see some awls and some walking hands like Thing from The Addams Family, and I count them. I count awls and Things, or “I count all things.” Then I see two bees carrying a cigarette butt and dropping it, and then being unable to find it. Two bees, butt, loss. “To be but loss.” And so on. For verse 9, go to the next room.

    Thinking up the images forces me to think of the words over and over, and when I can’t remember the verse, remembering the image helps.

    The book Memorize the Faith by Kevin Vost shows many good examples of this method.