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.
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.
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.
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.