For church kids, learning Bible verses is easy. Almost every children's program stresses its importance. Kids play games, listen to Bible stories, and sing songs-basically having a grand time while learning God's Word.
Yet adults need to know the Bible as much as children do. Unfortunately, as I grew up, I forgot this lesson even faster than I forgot the verses I'd worked so hard to memorize.
But recently I've discovered memorizing Scripture isn't so difficult, even for an adult. Here are five helps to get you started.
1. Spell it out
My grade-school teacher told us to write out our spelling list ten times over. She wasn't cruel; she knew that combining different approaches to sensory input would imprint the words in our brains. In other words, people learn in different ways.
Try it with Scripture. The repetition, the movement of your hand shaping the words, and seeing the sentences as they form-all work together to saturate your consciousness.
2. Rapping to the Bible
Those who learn best from audio input may benefit from reading the verse aloud two or three times, then trying to recite it without looking at the page. I discovered this as a teenager competing on a Bible quiz team, and I still use it. If a natural cadence to the lines emerges, emphasize it.
The "Donut Man" (aka Rob Evans), a Christian children's entertainer, teaches his young audience James 4:7 by having them stomp their feet and shout in unison, "Sub-MIT to God, re-SIST the devil, and HE will FLEE from YOU!" Rhythm and rhyme will impress the verse in your mind—and it's fun!
3. Listen up
Recordings are another aid for people who learn better by listening. You can find the Bible on CD at most bookstores or download it online. Also check church and public libraries.
Listen to the Bible while commuting or running errands, working around your house, or exercising. Don't be afraid to stop and replay the recording to be sure you catch every word. Play the same chapter or book every day for a week (depending on the time you devote to listening). You'll be amazed at how much you recall later.
4. Mirror, mirror
Tape the verse to your bathroom mirror—or to your computer screen, refrigerator, or wherever you frequently glance during a typical day. You can buy a set of verse cards at a Christian bookstore, or print the verse yourself.
A friend of mine writes a special verse on a small square of paper and carries it with her in her pocket all day. Every time she slips her hands in her pockets, or even hears the paper crumple, she remembers the verse and why it speaks to her.
5. The more the merrier
Set goals with your family, friends, or Bible study members to memorize verses together. En courage each other and trade creative ideas for making the task easier. A Sunday school teacher had twin students one year who kept one another sharp by seeing who could memorize their weekly verse faster.
Learning with others often leads to discussion of the verse and its context, or to practical applications. Accountability can be fun!
Regardless of which method—or combination of methods—works for you, persevere. Periodically review the verses you've studied to keep them fresh in your mind.
Keep track of memorized verses. Seeing what you've accomplished will encourage you and show you which parts of the Bible you've been neglecting.
Remember we're not memorizing Scripture to look smart. God's Word should affect our lives every day. As Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed" (John 8:31).
Copyright2000 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine (formerly Christian Reader).
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