Join us at a new location Sunday at 10am at the Crystal Community Center as we gather for public worship.

Memorizing Scripture

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to talk to the kids' Sunday school class for a few minutes about memorization as I will be helping them with their memory verses going forward. Rather than start right away with the first verse, I took this first week to encourage them that Scripture memory is worth it, and that even adults like me use lots of strategies to help them learn and retain passages.

As we will be in 1 Corinthians this year, all things should be done for building up the church. In order to encourage the church in your pursuit of the spiritual discipline of Bible memorization, Pastor Brett asked me to share a bit about how I have gone about this.


First, I want to encourage you that it is a worthy pursuit to memorize Scripture as this is a way to abide in God's Word and have God's Word abide in you (John 15:7). It’s a way to let the Word of God dwell in you richly (Col 3:16). It’s a way to meditate on God's Word day and night (Ps. 1:2; 37:31; 119:11). It’s a means of sanctification (John 17:17). From that Word at work in you flows encouragement for others in their struggling, rejoicing, and lamenting. From it, the Holy Spirit encourages you, convicts you of sin, and strengthens you. In memorizing the Word and sharing this journey with others, it strengthens them to press on in their faith and be spurred on to continue in these good spiritual disciplines themselves. This encouragement builds up the church. It is good to know the Word of the Lord in your heart.


For me, I knew that to memorize larger chunks of Scripture I would need it to be part of my daily routine. We all have busy days, and there are many interruptions. Trying to start and build a brand-new routine can work well at first, but after a few weeks—if you're anything like me—it just sort of falls apart. Because of this, I decided to build Scripture memory into a routine that already existed. I recommend this to everyone. What is something mindless that you do every day for a set amount of time that always happens no matter what? Brushing your teeth? Driving to work? Getting dressed? Making coffee? Whatever it is, use the mental headspace of that task to work on Scripture memory. Two minutes a day really adds up!

For me it's driving to work. I don't recommend this to everyone but, for the way I memorize, I am able to safely do so while driving. And I find that the movement of the car really helps me as well. I spend twenty minutes, five mornings a week working on Scripture memory in the car and, if I remember to do it, I try to quiz myself at least once in the halls at work between clients.

To memorize all of 1 Corinthians, I did this faithfully (with some short breaks) from January to December 2023. Any time I worked on it outside of that (a couple Saturdays, a drive home, Community Group) were all bonus in my mind.


Beyond my recommendation to build it into a pre-existing routine and chip away at it daily a few minutes at a time, I want to encourage you with some of the techniques I used to set it to memory.

The most common question I get is what method I use to memorize and whether I use repetition. While some may find it beneficial to say a verse or section ten times in a row, word perfect before moving on, I do not use this style. Instead, I take a thought at a time (1-4 sentences) and see if I can repeat it back. Once I can say it all the way through perfectly one time, I see if I can do it a second time. If so, I go back to the top of the paragraph or chapter and say all that I’ve already learned and end with that section. If I get it right, then I go ahead and move on to learning the next section.

If the thought can stand alone, I will work on just that part and then expand it as I mentioned before. However, if it is an add on to an earlier part or is part of the same paragraph, I will then make the larger paragraph the memory section with the last part of it being newer content. I do that so that I maintain a good flow within the paragraph and keep everything connected. When starting a new paragraph, I will often start it with the last sentence of the paragraph before it in order to code the transition into the new paragraph, so to speak.

Memory Aids

But what if I’m having trouble even memorizing the sentences? I will tell you that there were several months in the middle of the year when I felt like I was making super slow progress. My motivation was low, the content was hard and confusing, the chapters were long, and I felt like just memorizing even one sentence would take me weeks. In those dark days of memorizing, what was most encouraging for me was when my Community Group would ask me to recite what I was working on. Those times gave me the boost and momentum I needed to keep going.

Sometimes I would get through a whole chapter in a few weeks after one of those opportunities to practice it in front of others. They were like "Super Mario stars" for me, giving me an extra boost of momentum, and I could not have done this without them. The Body builds up the Body, and when this member was weak, the other members encouraged me to keep going and to share what I had so far. Thank you, Community Group!

In no order, here are some other things I have done to aid my memorization when I get stuck:

Record My Own Voice

I record myself reading the chapter or paragraph, and then play it back on repeat for myself. Much like listening to a song and singing along, I will listen to it repeatedly and try to say it along with the recording until I code it like a speech tune.

Finding Rhythm in a Phrase

I will say one phrase over and over again if I’m having trouble saying it right and try to find some sort of rhythm it in. “Otherwise, what do people mean, what do people mean, what do people mean, what do people, what do people, what do people mean… .”

Pair it With Songs

I connect words to songs to help me remember them. The first words of 1 Corinthians 2 are, “and I,” so to remember that transition I sing Whitney Houston’s, “And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEIIIIIII.” “Let it be so,” in chapter seven is paired with the song “Let It Be” by the Beatles. In chapter ten, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor,” is paired with, “Let no one caught in sin remain,” from “Christ is Risen” by the Gettys. And so on.

Race the Audio Bible

I listen to an audio Bible version and try to say it one sentence ahead of the speaker without getting behind. Then I can also listen to make sure I said it right. This is part of my strategy for checking my work while driving on review days since I can’t use as many visual supports.

Visualization & Connections

I try to find common visual connections between words and paragraphs and then count them or alphabetize them. For example, in some chapters it mentions, “Christ Jesus our Lord,” and then later, “our Lord Jesus Christ.” A friend recently highlighted for me that they were in alphabetical order in that chapter so “Christ Jesus” came first in the chapter and “Jesus Christ” came second. That was a helpful memory trick! In chapter seven, I visualize the argument for husbands with unbelieving wives who consent to live with them and vice versa as a box. As long as I follow the lines of the box in my head, I don’t get confused with an otherwise tongue-tying section.

Hand Motions & Body Actions

I have finger motions and hand motions for many sections of 1 Corinthians. The night before I presented the letter to the church, I was really struggling with forgetting a certain paragraph in chapter fourteen. I just couldn’t seem to remember where it went. I knew the paragraph; I just didn’t know the transition into that paragraph. We had gone over and over it, but I just couldn’t seem to hold it. So, I stopped and thought about the transition of, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace,” into, “As in all the churches of the saints… .” Well, saints go marching and the military is all about order not chaos. So, I started marching around my room—yes, really physically marching—and said, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace!” And I saluted and knew exactly what came next: the saints. That next paragraph has to do with women keeping silent in the churches. It has nothing to do with saints marching but that was the cue I needed to connect those two paragraphs and I will never forget that transition again.

Making Tunes for the Words

Again, because I’m in the car doing this memory work, I use a lot of auditory supports. This one I made outside the car though. I like to write songs to help me remember hard paragraphs. One of the hardest sections for me was chapter twelve. One Saturday, I was wrestling with it, and I discovered that I could get almost two whole paragraphs to fit to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” To this day, I still have to sing it in my head in order to recite that section. I spent a lot of time reading that section apart from the song though. I wanted to make sure I understood the passage without the song since it was a harder one for me to grasp in memory.

Color Coding & Drawing

I did not use this much for 1 Corinthians, but I have used it for other passages and books. Color coding sections and memorizing paragraphs or chapters by colors can be a help. For instance, “paragraph one is red, number 2 is orange,” and so on through the rainbow could help you remember the sequence of the paragraphs in a chapter if its particularly difficult. I also printed out each chapter on its own piece of paper and marked it up with lines and connections. I also drew pictures to help me remember the themes of the paragraphs and summarized each paragraph with a word.

Write It Out

I occasionally spent time writing out the chapters on paper by hand. It slowed down my brain speed and forced me to really know the words and not just the sounds. Another technique is to copy down a section with pencil and eliminate 1-3 words at a time in between reading the section until there are no words visible, and you are saying them all by memory.

Move to Memorize

Move, walk, pace, run, bike, drive. Movement helps you memorize and retain what you’ve memorized. I know the science behind this if you want to talk about it more, but I won’t spend words on it here.


Memorizing isn’t enough. You also need to be regularly reviewing what you memorize. I do this on certain days in the car mostly, but I also do it regularly in the shower and while falling asleep or waking up. Now, I hear 1 Corinthians like you would get a song stuck in your head. I was brushing my teeth last week and a paragraph from chapter eleven got stuck in my head on repeat. Not sure why that paragraph, but I was glad to hear it again.

When I am reviewing, sometimes I recite either out loud or in my thoughts. Other times I try to write out the passage and then check it for accuracy and make visual corrections on that piece of paper. I sometimes record myself reciting and check my recording for accuracy later. I might also challenge myself to recite the chapter backwards or list only the transition sentences for each paragraph in the chapter. I will challenge myself to recite it as fast as I can to work on fluidity and muscle memory as well as identify where my weakest spots are. I also challenge myself to recite it more slowly than I would typically speak, to make sure I’m not relying only on muscle memory for recall but am actually paying attention to each word. These are all methods that aid me in review, and I’m sure there are others I haven’t even thought of.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the smaller details of how one can go about memorizing Scripture, and how I in particular have been doing it. However, I say all of these things for the encouragement of the church, that you would not feel overwhelmed at the prospect of Scripture memory. It is as simple as one verse. Then one more. Then one more. Whether you memorize one paragraph, or a chapter, or a book, or a testament—do it all for the glory of God. Don't aim to build up yourself but to build up the church. Not to bring glory to yourself, but to bring glory to God who gives us everything we need for life and godliness in these very words. It is the Spirit who empowers us in these things (1 Corinthians 12), so if you desire to memorize Scripture, pray that he would equip you with everything good for doing this work (Hebrews 13:21) and that he would sustain you in this pursuit.

I have been especially blessed in this discipline knowing that other saints are beside me memorizing too. There are many at Westview who are diligently and quietly pursuing Scripture memory. Ask in your Community Groups and Discipleship Groups if anyone is in the process of memorizing something. Share what you are meditating on in memorization with one another for the building up of the church, and spur each other on to memorize alongside you or with you. Let us be a Body that drinks deeply from God’s Word and meditates on it day and night.