Practice Out Loud

This technique is for all forms of recitation, whether they are long or short, individual or group. Practice out loud.

Practice at full volume if you can, but even if it’s whispered while the rest of your household is asleep, it makes a difference to voice the words.


Practice out loud because some words are difficult to pronounce. Mispronounced words are distracting.


Practice out loud because it would not be a recitation if it were just in your head.

Find Patterns

There are patterns in the passages that are just waiting to be discovered–or invented.

  • Create acrostics with the words of the passage
    • The Town of Nazareth in Galilee – T, O, N, G is “tong,” like how you “ting a tong.” Memory triggers don’t need to make sense, they just need to be memorable.
  • Find over-arching patterns in the passage. For example, the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There are nine. The first three are one-syllable, the second three are two-syllable, and the third three are three-syllable (1-2-3).
  • Find alliteration patterns (even if they are contrived). I kept Nehemiah 6:5 straight by remembering the “s” sounds throughout it. “Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter.” I’m usually terrible at remembering the address, but I knew that this was verse 5 because it was leading up to Nehemiah six, s Yes, I know that sounds dopey, but it works.

This technique is used when memorizing medium to long passages. The goal is to solidify a few “safe havens” within the passage so that, when you reach the safe haven you will be in a place of confidence. These verses also serve as reference points for what is already past, and what is still to come.

To do this, find one or two verses partway through the passage and take some extra time to memorize those. It could be one verse halfway-through, or one verse a third of the way and a second verse two-thirds of the way. These verses will serve as your anchors, not only in your initial memorization, but also during the recitation itself. Take time to know these verses inside and out, so that when you land on them, you will find refuge, you know what has come before, and what will follow, and, in the moment, you will have clarity and comfort.

Focus Progression

Where you look when you are reciting can act as a memory prompt. The progression of where eyes focus can remind you of where you have progressed in the passage. Something like “When I look to the left side, I am telling them about ‘XYZ’ and when I shift to the right side, I’m telling them ‘ABC.’” Divide the audience into sections and decide where you will look when reciting.

If we lay this passage over the audience sections, then it may look like the first diagram below. The reciter then associates certain areas of the audience with specific sections of the passage. The back right is when Joseph and Mary are registering and then the child is born. The back middle came before that, and it was the part with “everyone” (because the back middle is the largest portion of the audience, in this case) going to register.

Verses

Bible Memory App

Walking around the Lake

This technique involves an association between a geographical location and a section of your passage. It was described to me by a man who had memorized Psalm 139 as he walked around a lake near his home. Each portion was related to a feature of the lake environment. Verses 1-3 were in a sunny spot, verses 4-6 were across from a young tree located on an island in the lake, verses 7-12 near a cave, and so on. This could be an effective tool for your kit of techniques.

8 thoughts on “Memorization Techniques”

  1. I like to memorize verse by verse only moving on when I have completely memorized one verse. Within each verse I have certain anchor words or phrases that create the skeleton and I build around those words. I have no system by which I chose the key phrase it is just whatever stands out to me when I first read the verse.

  2. Peter Schmitz

    What has worked best for me – the person with the memory like a leaky bucket – has been the “Verses” App. Through steps that build on each other, the Scripture you want to memorize gets imprinted on your brain. 🙂
    If your phone is set for English language, you start out with listening to the Scripture (if set in other languages it sounds awkward). After that you reveal the text bit by bit by tapping on your screen, next is a reorder game where parts of sentences and verses have to be set in the right order. This is followed by a wordbank where you have to fill in the blanks in the text, starting from just a few blanks to a full blank text (you get a selection of words suggested to fill in the blanks). Once you have been through with that you start typing the text by putting in the first letter of every word in the Scripture.
    You don’t have to spend extended amounts of time on this and the result – at least for me – was that I had smaller Scripture portions of up to 4 verses memorized within a week.
    I usually add to the process talks with a “coach” from my church to find out why this Scripture is important to me (so far it always had some present or past significance for me) and to get a feel for the person who wrote and spoke that Scripture the first time.
    I find memorizing an being able to recite important for the times that we cannot rely on having a physical or electronical Bible.

  3. I use several techniques, including
    1. Meditating on verses as I memorize them. I memorize 1-5 verses in the morning and then go over them numerous times during the day,
    focusing on different words and phrases at different times.
    2. Sometimes I find it helpful to write out the verses on a small card and then review the verses on a regular basis (Old school, I know).
    3. Reading a passage over and over, understanding its various parts and how they fit together, helps me in memorizing.
    4. Having a deadline helps me, as with many other things, to memorize.
    5. Although I now memorize mostly from the NIV translation due to that version being the version I usually preach from I find that the NKJV is
    much more melodic and easier to memorize.
    6. Review, review, review. 3 essentials for memorizing and keeping it in your memory long-term.

  4. Connie Johnson

    Each morning I like to write as a goal on Momentum (a browser extension on Chrome) a section of the sentence or phrase that I’m working on, so that every time I go on the internet to search for something, the phrase comes up to remind me to work on it. I also like to recite the passage while on a walk in my phone’s Voice Memo app and then go back and listen/correct myself while looking at the verse.

  5. Carol Griffin

    What works best for me when memorizing is to study it just before going to sleep. My mind seems to work on it overnight, and in the morning I have a much better grasp on the passage.

  6. Just saw a video about a memory expert named Dominic O’Brien. He is an 8-time World Memory Champion and has some down-to-earth suggestions for developing your memory skills, such as mind-mapping. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACw5YVgg4lc
    I need to find out more about mind-mapping. I’ve heard of it before, but never really learned about what it entails

What helps you to memorize Scripture?

8 thoughts on “Memorization Techniques”

  1. I like to memorize verse by verse only moving on when I have completely memorized one verse. Within each verse I have certain anchor words or phrases that create the skeleton and I build around those words. I have no system by which I chose the key phrase it is just whatever stands out to me when I first read the verse.

  2. Peter Schmitz

    What has worked best for me – the person with the memory like a leaky bucket – has been the “Verses” App. Through steps that build on each other, the Scripture you want to memorize gets imprinted on your brain. 🙂
    If your phone is set for English language, you start out with listening to the Scripture (if set in other languages it sounds awkward). After that you reveal the text bit by bit by tapping on your screen, next is a reorder game where parts of sentences and verses have to be set in the right order. This is followed by a wordbank where you have to fill in the blanks in the text, starting from just a few blanks to a full blank text (you get a selection of words suggested to fill in the blanks). Once you have been through with that you start typing the text by putting in the first letter of every word in the Scripture.
    You don’t have to spend extended amounts of time on this and the result – at least for me – was that I had smaller Scripture portions of up to 4 verses memorized within a week.
    I usually add to the process talks with a “coach” from my church to find out why this Scripture is important to me (so far it always had some present or past significance for me) and to get a feel for the person who wrote and spoke that Scripture the first time.
    I find memorizing an being able to recite important for the times that we cannot rely on having a physical or electronical Bible.

  3. I use several techniques, including
    1. Meditating on verses as I memorize them. I memorize 1-5 verses in the morning and then go over them numerous times during the day,
    focusing on different words and phrases at different times.
    2. Sometimes I find it helpful to write out the verses on a small card and then review the verses on a regular basis (Old school, I know).
    3. Reading a passage over and over, understanding its various parts and how they fit together, helps me in memorizing.
    4. Having a deadline helps me, as with many other things, to memorize.
    5. Although I now memorize mostly from the NIV translation due to that version being the version I usually preach from I find that the NKJV is
    much more melodic and easier to memorize.
    6. Review, review, review. 3 essentials for memorizing and keeping it in your memory long-term.

  4. Connie Johnson

    Each morning I like to write as a goal on Momentum (a browser extension on Chrome) a section of the sentence or phrase that I’m working on, so that every time I go on the internet to search for something, the phrase comes up to remind me to work on it. I also like to recite the passage while on a walk in my phone’s Voice Memo app and then go back and listen/correct myself while looking at the verse.

  5. Carol Griffin

    What works best for me when memorizing is to study it just before going to sleep. My mind seems to work on it overnight, and in the morning I have a much better grasp on the passage.

  6. Just saw a video about a memory expert named Dominic O’Brien. He is an 8-time World Memory Champion and has some down-to-earth suggestions for developing your memory skills, such as mind-mapping. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACw5YVgg4lc
    I need to find out more about mind-mapping. I’ve heard of it before, but never really learned about what it entails

What helps you to memorize Scripture?

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