Some Scripture memory systems are amazingly involved. They can include boxes of memorized verses on cards, or long lists of previously memorized verses for review. I admire and appreciate those who have persevered in these systems and found them life-giving and sustainable in the long run. For me, such a process would threaten to dominate, if not devour, the limited time I realistically have on a daily basis for devotions.
You can memorize whole books, or whole chapters (Romans 8 is a great starting point, or Philippians 3), or key sections. My preference over the years has become key sections (say four to seven verses, like Titus 3:1–7) that I come across as I’m moving through a Bible-reading plan. It’s often a section I find so densely rich that meditating on it for just a few minutes feels woefully inadequate. To enjoy more of its goodness, I need to put it to memory. (If you’re looking to get started on a few key sections to memorize, try Col. 1:15–20; John 1:1–14; Heb. 1:1–4; and Phil. 2:5–11.)
2. Take It with You during the Day
Write the passage down or make it prominent and easily accessible on a tablet or phone. I wouldn’t suggest quarantining your memorizing to a certain slot in the day, but unleash it into all of life. Play an audio recording in the car, look at a piece of paper while standing in line. Put a text on your home screen so you see it when you look at your smartphone.
3. Seek to Understand, Feel, and Apply the Text as You Memorize
Resist the urge to see simple memory as the goal. Learning the text “by heart” is secondary; taking the text to heart is primary. Don’t memorize mindlessly, but engage the text and its meaning—not only its implications for your life, but what effects it should have on your emotions.
4. Turn Your Text into Prayer
Personal and corporate prayer times are a great time to exercise what you’re memorizing, and see and feel it from a fresh angle as you turn it godward and express its significance for others. There have been times for me when praying some memorized text became the pathway for seeing fresh glories that had been hidden to me until then.
Finally, let the truth of Colossians 3:16 shape your memorization: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The “word of Christ” here, or “message of Christ,” isn’t first and foremost Scripture, but the gospel. So, in other words, memorize in light of the gospel.
Bible memorization is always time well spent. All Scripture memory is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). And especially useful are one-verse statements of the gospel.
⦁ God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (⦁ Rom. 5:8)
⦁ The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (⦁ Rom. 6:23)
⦁ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (⦁ Rom. 8:1)
⦁ He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (⦁ Rom. 8:32)
⦁ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteous- ness of God. (⦁ 2 Cor. 5:21)
⦁ You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (⦁ 2 Cor. 8:9)
⦁ The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (⦁ 1 Tim. 1:15)
⦁ In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (⦁ 1 John 4:10)
⦁ Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (⦁ Rev. 5:9)