Some Techniques for Scriptural Memorization

An Introduction to Christian Meditation and Memorization

In my last post, we explored the benefits of Scriptural Memorization and some key steps to begin to memorize selected passages. In this post, we will explore other techniques to memorize portions of scripture, including whole books of the Bible.

In conducting my research for this series, I relied upon four references on memorization of God’s Word. [1]  The techniques ranged from rote (similar to how must of us learned our multiplication tables) to the “Film Making” method as Ms. Charis called her technique.  Interestingly, all four authors recommended that the serious talmid should utilize a variation of the film making technique.

The primary means that information is stored in our mind is through stories, events and visual location.  The right side of the brain captures stories, events, emotions and art.  It requires little effort to absorb information that is fed into the right side of the brain.  The left side of the brain deals with facts, data, numbers, names, etc.; but it is a poor retainer of new information.  By facilitating right-brained experiences, it opens the door for memory retention.  Admittedly, this technique is more suited to narrative passages such as the Gospels and Acts, but can be used on many other passages as well, depending upon your creative skills.

After you have selected a portion of scripture to memorize, read it through once just to become familiar with the story.  Then read it again and picture yourself in the biblical scene in your mind.  See yourself as one of the active participants.  How would you feel?  What would you say?  What would you do?  Then pick out another character in the scene and ask yourself the same questions.  Let me give you an example from Mark.

“After a while, Yeshua returned to K’far-Nachum. The word spread that he was back, and so many people gathered around the house that there was no longer any room, not even in front of the door. While he was preaching the message to them, four men came to him carrying a paralyzed man.  They could not get near Yeshua because of the crowd, so they stripped the roof over the place where he was, made an opening, and lowered the stretcher with the paralytic lying on it.  Seeing their trust, Yeshua said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Some Torah-teachers sitting there thought to themselves, ‘How can this fellow say such a thing?  He is blaspheming!  Who can forgive sins except God?’  But immediately Yeshua, perceiving in his spirit what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?  Which is easier to say to the paralyzed man? ‘Your sins are forgiven’? or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk’?  But look! I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He then said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you: get up, pick up your stretcher and go home!’  In front of everyone the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and left. They were all utterly amazed and praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” ~ Mark 2:1-12

There are numerous characters in this short passage.  Ask yourself with whom in the story do you identify with the most and how does that situation apply to your own life?  What is God trying to say to me?  What does he want you to do?  Personally, when I first used this method I thought of the homeowner.  “Who’s responsible to fix that hole in my roof?”

Our mind records stories and pictures of how we felt and what we experienced in an event.  By digging into the story, we begin to create a filmstrip in our mind.  If we can get the story pictured firmly in our mind, it makes everything else easier.  Sometimes, we will have to do some mining for background information on the text we have chosen.  So play detective looking for clues to give you the full story.  Why is this important?  Every text needs a context to build a story, and a story is an important key for longer-term retention.

The next step is to tell someone else the story using your own words.  You want to be able to tell every detail but at this stage you can use your own words.  Tell the story as if you were there and it’s an eye witness account.  (See Yochanan 9 for the story of the man born blind and how he ‘witnessed’ to the P’rushim as an example.)  The key element at this stage is that you need to speak this out loud.

Now, you are ready to begin telling the story with the actual text from your Bible.  You will have to determine what works for you, but the key is to ‘see’ the picture in your mind’s eye while you are attaching the words of the text.  Attach the words to the picture, not the picture to the words.

Finally, share your newly memorized passage with others.  Scripture is meant to be given away.

I personally like this method myself.  I recall that the first Bible study I led years ago was on the Besorah of Yochanan.  We went chapter by chapter, verse by verse.  Virtually, the entire book is a narrative, so this method works great.  Although I have obviously re-read it many times since, I can still remember the main story line in each chapter and most of the verse that I memorized back then.

If you are interested in attempting to memorize entire books of the Bible, I would highly recommend that you check out Andrew Davis’s book mentioned above.  He sets forth a very detailed step-by-step methodology to commit large portions of scriptures to memory.

Everything I’ve said about the disciplines of Bible study, Scripture meditation, memorization, and application of Scripture in daily life has been based on Scripture.  I’ve tried to point out what the Scriptures say about these disciplines. What Scripture says, God says.

I close this series with this prayer from “Every Day with Jesus:”

O God, help me never to approach the Bible content to know only the written Word.  Give me a passion that never remains satisfied until, through the written Word, I discover more of the Living Word.  In Yeshua’s name. Amen.

In my next post, we will ask and answer the question:  Should Christians Observe Hanukkah?

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] “Bible Study Methods: 12 Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word” by Rick Warren; “40 Days in The Word Workbook” by Rick Warren; “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Andrew M. Davis; “How to Memorize the Bible” by William Evans; and “Scripture Memorization Made Possible: Moving Beyond Rote to Memorize Large Portions of the Bible” by Leilani Charis.


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