Memorizing Scripture in 2008

A dying woman inspired one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2008.  Seven weeks before her death, Jeanne Clem (the wife of one of our pastors) told our church about her efforts to memorize scripture in her last days.  Specifically, she was working on a portion of 2 Corinthians, which she recited for us:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (4:16-18) (click here to watch the interview).

I admit, guiltily, that I wondered why she was wasting her time memorizing scripture when she didn’t have much time left.  I mean, once she got to heaven, she’d know it all anyway, and she didn’t have that long to wait.  But, God slapped me upside the head (as he often does), and he reminded me that there might be value to knowing scripture by heart, even if you know it for a few days of your life, even if you know it for a few hours of your life. 

I felt convicted.

Now that I recognize the value of memorizing scripture (thank you God for opening my eyes), I’m faced with some rather insurmountable looking obstacles.  I have some confessions to make before you all.

I don’t know my cell phone number.  I’ve had it for many months now, and I have no clue what it is.  When people ask, I have to look it up.  I don’t even recognize Dan’s cell phone number, so when he calls, I never know it’s him until I answer the call (so much for caller ID).

I don’t know the order of the books in the bible.  When the pastor announces that we should turn to some obscure minor prophet, I either flip through the bible from Genesis to Revelation, hoping to see it as I skim by or give up and go right to the table of contents. 

Memorization is an issue for me, and I don’t undertake this resolution lightly. I only have a handful of verses memorized, and even then, they’re mostly in French (a result of a wonderful French instructor who thought it was the best way to learn the language). 

I recently tried to memorize the fruits of the spirit, and I got love, joy, and peace, but after that, it’s all a blur. I tried learning it via an annoying song I found on the internet, but now, all I remember is the tune, which is now permanently stuck in my head (click here to hear it, if you dare).

Because of my own weakness, I know that more than ever, I’ll need to rely on God’s strength to accomplish this resolution.  God has impressed upon me the goal of memorizing the entire book of James, and I’m terrified about it.

 To tell you the truth, I wanted to do what I always do, and memorize one or two verses, and call it good.  But I know that this year, I’ve committed to taking more risks for God (click here to read my post about this). 

God and I have been wrestling with this for awhile.  I read James a month ago, and underlined half the book.  He was telling me then that I needed to memorize it, but I didn’t want to hear it.  He was more persistant these past few days, and I kept pushing him aside or reminding him how pathetic I am at memorizing things.   I’d concede a few verses, or I’d agree to 5 verses, maybe even 10, if they were short.  But God would keep pressing. 

Finally, he reminded me of my resolution, and he also reminded me that my pride was keeping me from trying.  I was too worried about failing. 

So, he wins.  I’m doing this his way.  This year, I’m going to try to memorize an entire book of the bible.  I’d appreciate a lot of prayer and more wonderful memorization advice from you all.  I’m going to need it. 


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I occasionally write for my Church’s blog, and I submitted a variation on this same post. I’m getting some great advice from the readers there on how to memorize scripture. Check it out if you have the time:

  2. Hi Amy,

    I’m not sure if you’ve already seen this link, but the PDF link there from Dr. Davis gives some help for memorizing Scripture.

  3. I have also found myself struggling with memorizing Scripture. It seems there are phases in my life where I go gung ho with it and learn a ton and then go out of that phase into a new one where I am obstinate about it and oftentimes forget what I had previously learned. But I am always amazed how important knowing Scripture by heart is when we have to “destroy every argument and lofty opinion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5).

    Ironically, I memorized that verse over a year ago and just had to look it up to reference it 🙂

    I haven’t thought about memorizing in terms of a resolution (then you’re committed, eh?), but a week ago I came across a cool memory verse application on the web, which I signed up for – Signing up means you are emailed (or in your feedreader) a link to practice your verse every day.

    I got the recommendation from the link below. The comments section to the post provides other suggestions for bible memorizing.

    One other thing that has helped me in memorizing Scripture is having one particular time of day that I work on it. I have started taping my notecards to the outside glass of my shower and working on it then. Some people do it in the car, while doing dishes or laundry, etc.

    But, in the end, systems aside, it all comes down to the heart and a desire for this sort of thing. Only God can work on that, as it sounds He is doing for you. Many blessings as you take this risk!

  4. Hi,
    We are memorizing the scriptures by using “Photographic Memory” methods. Pls. check this on the internet and i guess Tony Buzan authored few books on the subject. It is definitely not hard but you need to be committed.
    Few tips:

    – No tv, no internet, no news, no sugar [a must], no processed food. And vitamins pls herbs. Love of God.
    God bless.

    AL: Thanks for your tips, but I have to say, it sounds very hard that way!

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