The Art of Memorizing

Ann Voskamp, a superb writer, about helping her kids learn memory verses.  To read more, be sure to check out Ann's blog at A Holy Experience.

Several weeks ago, five year old Levi returned home from our church’s children’s club with a stack of twenty yellow card stock cards with line drawing pictures on the front as memory aids and Scripture verses with references printed on the back. In few short weeks, could Levi, faced only with a line drawing, recite each of the 20 Scriptures cards, including the references, word perfect, in continuous sequence, with no verbal prompts?

We practiced those verses…over and over and over again. As forks scraped plates, as pajamas got pulled down over heads, as seatbelts got buckled, we memorized, starting at the first card: “Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword…” While he rode high in the buddy seat of the tractor, out cultivating spring fields, Levi hollered above the drone of the tractor, into Darryl’s cocked ear: “Ps. 90:2 Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” While rolling play dough, Levi sang, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him… 1 Kings what, Mom?” Yes, by function of Levi’s memorization, the verses had become mine too. And everyone else’s in the family. In the midst of a parental discussion with an older brother, Levi chirped in with “Proverbs 29:1 “He who is often reproved and hardens his neck will suddenly be destroyed.” Elder brother’s forced smile of appreciation towards Levi was notably strained.

Tension mounted as days of faithful recitation still resulted in Levi erroneously quoting “If my people that are called by my name will humble theirselves and pray” instead of “If my people WHO are called by My name will humble THEMSELVES and pray…” The older children would hold their breath as Levi tried again…and when he incorrectly said “theirselves” for what seemed like the gazillionth time, they couldn’t refrain from dissolving into groans. “It ‘s “humble THEMSELVES”, Levi! Okay, let’s try again, Levi!” Would mercy be granted to a five year old with a lisp and gratingly incorrect grammar—yet who more than compensated for any misquotes with an abundance of passion and expression?

Tonight, the stack of yellow verse cards sit on the counter, dog-eared and dirty…and one little boy lies in bed, changed.

For Levi threw open the door tonight to announce, “I SAID ALL 20 VERSES TONIGHT, MOM, WORD PERFECT!”

And this time I was the one who dissolved…into tears. Little Levi had done it: He had made God’s Word his LIFE.

Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are yourl ife.”

Lord, how can I make Your living word my LIFE today?

Ann then writes about the entire family’s efforts:

So we eat and talk and pull out our sheets of verses from the dinner-table book basket and pour over the words, The Word, in between forkfuls. We recite during slurps of desert’s ice cream cones. Tattered sheets are stuffed in pockets to review in between barn feeding chores, doing up dishes, putting little ones down for nap.

We’re slowly becoming a family of mutterers, reciters, memorizers.

Is this what it is to be like Moses: Deuteronomy 31:30 “So Moses recitedthis entire song to the assembly of Israel…” To be a David: Psalm 119:13“I have recited aloud all the laws you have given us.”

Not as diligent as the Jewish students who faithfully memorized the entire oral Torah , we strengthen our humble efforts with the mantra: “No Child Left Behind”… or Mom and Dad. We spur each other on, reminding each other to daily recite God’s Word:

“Okay, while we fold the clothes, wanna all say the verse for today?”…“Okay, bedtime story after we recite all the verses we know so far this week.”

Even 3 year old Shalom squeals with glee: “Woverbs four nineteen, wenty, teen, one — I say it too!” Her enthusiasm is contagious, even if his annunciation is….well…indecipherable. And she is learning now the habit of wanting God’s Word….

Sunday morning drive to church finds a van full of us reciting in careful unison…and then, after the service, seeking out our accountability partner for nervous, word-perfect attempts at all seven verses in one sitting. Signatures scrawled on the bottom of assignment sheets are rewarded with relieved smiles.

And a changed person….ready to begin another 7 days of verses, life-changing encounters with the living, breathing, potent Word of God.

Learning the ART of Memorizing:

Attend:  Attend to the verse’s meaning. Attend to its context. Attend to its rhythm. Work those brain muscles. If you have to act it out, draw it up, write it down, or tape it on, so be it. Do whatever it takes to Attend.

(For me to attend: Make up Actions and sign-language to correspond with the verse.

For some of the children: Draw the verse in pictures. Record it on tape.Write it down.

For Dh: Close eyes and say the words he sees.) Do what it takes to Attend.

Review to Renew: Repeat. Recite. Recap. Reiterate. And then:Review. Repeat. Recite. Recap. Reiterate. And then…. Recite to an accountability partner weekly.

(A Memory Club with another family at church encourages the efforts.)

Each day, take just five minutes to review verses learned last week. Learning is important…but reviewing is paramount to retention.Repeating God’s Word renews.

Tie: Tie Daily Memorizing to Daily Duties. Knot reciting to routines: when you brush teeth, comb hair, make the bed, use the time to savor His Sweet Word. Tie memorizing to meal times. Bind Scripture learning to laundry, labor and living. Tie His Word to your life. Tie.

So goes the ART of Memorizing. And our motivation to keep memorizing?

“Guard my words as your most precious possession… ” Pr. 7:2 (LB)

Lord, “Your promises to me are my hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!” (Ps. 119:49 LB)

Topical Memory System

How to Memorize Scripture by NavigatorsPurchase from Amazon Purchase from Amazon (Kindle) Download Scriptures Here VerseMinder App

Topical Memory System by Navigators

If you want to memorize Scripture, but aren't sure what to memorize or how, this system is exactly what you need to begin hiding God's word in your heart.

Christ the Center 2 Corinthians 5:17 Galatians 2:20
Obedience to Christ Romans 12:1 John 14:21
The Word 2 Timothy 3:16 Joshua 1:8
Prayer John 15:7 Philippians 4:6,7
Fellowship Matthew 18:20 Hebrews 10:24,25
Witnessing Matthew 4:19 Romans 1:16
All Have Sinned Romans 3:23 Isaiah 53:6
Sin's Penalty Romans 6:23 Hebrews 9:27
Christ Paid the Penalty Romans 5:8 1 Peter 3:18
Salvation is not by Works Ephesians 2:8,9 Titus 3:5
Must Receive Christ John 1:12 Revelation 3:20
Assurance of Salvation 1 John 5:13 John 5:24
His Spirit 1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 2:12
His Strength Isaiah 41:10 Philippians 4:13
His Faithfulness Lamentations 3:22,23 Numbers 23:19
His Peace Isaiah 26:3 1 Peter 5:7
His Provision Romans 8:32 Philippians 4:19
His Help in Temptation Hebrews 2:18 Psalms 119:9,11
Put Christ First Matthew 6:33 Luke 9:23
Separate From the World 1 John 2:15,16 Romans 12:2
Be Steadfast 1 Corinthians 15:58 Hebrews 12:3
Serve Others Mark 10:45 2 Corinthians 4:5
Give Generously Proverbs 3:9,10 2 Corinthians 9:6,7
Develop World Vision Acts 1:8 Matthew 28:19,20
Love John 13:34,35 1 John 3:18
Humility Philippians 2:3,4 1 Peter 5:5,6
Purity Ephesians 5:3 1 Peter 2:11
Honesty Leviticus 19:11 Acts 24:16
Faith Hebrews 11:6 Romans 4:20,21
Good Works Galatians 6:9,10 Matthew 5:16

Reasons for Committing Scripture to Memory

  1. Help in avoiding sin. Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
  2. Comfort in affliction Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
  3. Spiritual Life Psalm 119:93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
  4. Wisdom Psalm 119:98-100Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
  5. Delight Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
  6. Guidance Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  7. Hope Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
  8. Peace Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
  9. A Heart of Worship Psalm 119:117-172 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
  10. Freedom John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  11. Makes Scripture readily available to teach, witness, encourage or reprove others 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
  12. Increased Faith Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
  13. Victory Over Temptation Mt 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (This is from the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus answered each of Satan’s temptations by saying, ‘It is written...’ then quoting a Scripture from memory.)
  14. Confidence In Prayer 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
  15. To Imitate Jesus’ Own Example 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Religion vs. Gospel




1 My work for God.   1 God's work for me
2 Performance Plan   2 Grace Plan
3 All about doing.   3 All about receiving.
4 I obey to be accepted.   4 I obey because I am accepted.
5 My faith focuses on rule-keeping.   5 My faith focuses on Christ - his cross and resurrection.
6 I serve God out of fear and insecurity.   6 I serve God out of grateful joy and love.
7 Focus on externals.   7 Focus on the heart.
8 I'm concerned with appearances.   8 I'm only concerned to please God.
9 I feel pride or guilt - pride when I keep the rules, guilt when I don't.   9 I feel neither pride nor guilt because God has forgiven me. By grace.
10 My identity is based on how I measure up.   10 My identity is based on God's love and grace.
11 I am filled with insecurity. Does God accept me?   11 I feel secure because God has completely accepted me.
12 I don't take because I'm not perfect. I've sinned a lot.   12 I dotake communion because I'm not perfect. I've sinned a lot- but I celebrate my Savior.
13 The main reason I pray is to control circumstances.   13 The main reason I pray is to draw close to God.

Prayer of Surrender

Lord because you are my Godbecause you have made me because you have saved me by the blood of Jesus because you have loved me fiercely, forgiven me completely, and accepted me eternally, I gladly surrender my entire life to you.

Jesus, I am trusting you as my Savior from sin and I now bow to you as my King. All that I am and have I give to you – my dreams, my hopes, my fears, my family, my relationships, my health, my career, my money, my time, my hobbies.

My whole life belongs to you.

Though I will struggle and at times fail, I choose to rest in your grace, which is greater than all my sin.

Father, I receive your love for me. Jesus, I am your fully devoted follower. Spirit, I depend on your power, not mine.

I want to live my life as if Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming again tomorrow.

Have all of me, Lord Jesus. I am yours. Amen.