How to Memorize Scripture

A month ago I announced that I’ll be entering the most significant races of all times – significant because the outcome of the race has the life-changing potential to create incredible strength and wisdom in my life. This race is not your typical race that requires mere physical exertion, but most importantly spiritual sweat.

Exactly a month ago, I declared I’ll be memorizing the entire book of 2 Timothy and sharing a video of myself reciting the entire book from memory on August 1, 2013. Yes, I could have gone for memorizing one chapter, but I really wanted to push myself to the limit. So, I decided to embark on this journey of learning, studying, and memorizing 83 verses and 1780 words in total. (This is an equivalent of 7 pages of double spaced essay.)

So here you go. Paul Sohn memorizing four chapters of the second book of Timothy. I encourage you to read along the 2 Timothy (ESV Version) with me!

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So why memorize Scripture in the first place?

Dallas Willard said it best, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation.”

Charles Swindoll also said,

“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”

To be honest, the past month was an incredible experience. It almost felt like I encountering an oasis in the midst of a barren desert. Immersing myself into the Word of God not only strengthened me but also enabled to grow closer to Christ – conforming to His image. I purposely deserted myself from other readings which I found liberating and rejuvenating. Above all, I came to experience firsthand the power of the Word of God.

A lot of people have asked me how I was able to accomplish this feat. Here are several tactics that I’d like to share with you that was instrumental in my memorization. 

1. Engage your five senses.

The more senses you involve in encoding your memory, the more strong a memory becomes. I recorded myself reading the entire book of 2 Timothy and constantly listened to this. Whether I’m at work, going to work, at home – it became a ritual. Once I memorized each chapter, I would test myself by writing down the entire on paper. If there were certain verses I had trouble with, I wrote it down at least than several times. Physically writing the words out is an extremely helpful tactic for memory aid. I also carried with me a printed version of the Scripture with me in my wallet. Whenever I had free time, I read it and constantly repeated the verses to myself. Lastly, on my commute to work every day, I turned off my radio and recited the memory verse out loud engaging my verbal and auditory senses.

2. Incorporate the verse in your prayers and daily conversations

Memorizing Scripture is of little use if you aren’t applying it in your daily life. The best way to remind yourself of these verses is to incorporate it in your daily prayer life and conversations with family, friends, peers, and co-workers. I noticed that this exercise helped me permanently fix the verse in my heart and mind. I try to think with a perspective, “How can I incorporate a verse from 2 Timothy to this conversation? How I can make this conversation spirit-filled and meaningful?

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Whatever strategy you follow in memorizing a Bible verse, do it repeatedly. Write it down, speak it out loud, sing it out, pray it—but whatever you do, do it over and over until it’s a natural, reflexive action. The real goal isn’t to reduce it to a mindless, repeated activity, but to slowly press the verse into your memory through repetition. The truth is that this take enormous strength and will – but as you internalize the verses over time – it will “stick” and it will take “root.”