Step 2: Memorize the Bible Passage
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Once you've completed the preparatory steps, you're ready to actually memorize the Bible passage you chose in Step 1. If you haven't already prepared yourself, please do so now before continuing.
The best way (and usually the only way) to remember anything is through repeat exposure. If you read a chapter or verse of the Bible just once or twice, you may be able to explain the main idea of the passage, but you most likely won't be able to repeat it word-for-word.
So, it is necessary to repeat the passage you are trying to memorize, over and over again. But you have to repeat the Bible passage in a systematic manner. You can't just read it from beginning to end over and over again and expect to remember it word-for-word.
Now, let me explain a few things I personally do to help me memorize a Bible passage. You will want to try these strategies out for yourself. See what fits your style and what doesn't.
As I said before, I only memorize passages I have a strong emotional attachment to. So the foundation is already laid. The next step I take is to start with the first verse, and repeat little "thought chunks," and then piece them together.
Memorization is a mental game, and it requires confidence for best results. So trust that you are able to "sense" the number of times you need to repeat each phrase. Let me demonstration with an example.
Let's say I've decided to memorize Isaiah 55. I start with verse 1, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters" (and I usually repeat this out loud, so I can hear myself saying it). Once I feel I have a good mental image of that phrase, I continue with the next thought chunk...
"And you who have no money, come, buy and eat!" Again, I repeat that until I have a good mental grasp of the thought. Then the next thought chunk...
"Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Again, repeat a few times. Now it's time to piece the thought together...
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Each individual thought chunk comes together to form a cohisive thought. I ponder this complete thought until I'm satisifed, and then I continue on.
Now I have one verse done, so I move on to the next verse. I don't keep repeating verse 1, because that would cause me to know the first few verses better than all others. So I repeat the steps on verse 2 (or "thought" two, whichever is relevant), then verse 3, and 4, and so on, until I get to a larger thought break. Then I repeat everything so far.
Hopefully, by now you can see the pattern: divide into thought chunks, then merge them together.
At this stage, you should know the passage very well, although maybe not with word-for-word accuracy yet. That's okay, because that's the next step!
Pay close attention now, because this strategy is my "secret weapon." Most people don't know about this, and that's a big reason that most people aren't able to memorize large chunks of the Bible. I used this exact strategy to memorize 1 Corinthians 6-16 and 2 Corinthians 1-13 for short-term recall (that's 24 chapters total). The secret is what I call "first letter fun."
Copy and paste the passage you are memorizing into the text box below, then click "Transform!"
After you click the button above, copy and paste the text in the box below, and print it out (or just look at it on your computer screen).
This handy litle script removed all but the first letter of each word in the Bible passage. Why? Well, I won't go into too much detail, because this article does very well at that. But essentially, here's how it works.
When you look at the first letters only, try to remember each word, just by seeing the first letter. It causes your brain to go into recall mode, even though you're looking at obvious clues. Somehow, this helps. And yes, it really does help!
Keep trying until you are able to recall the whole passage with word-for-word accracy, simply by reading the first letter of each word.
After you've gone through all these steps, and you feel like you know the passage really well, recite it to yourself completely from memory, without even looking at the first letters. When you are able to recite the entire passage to yourself without making a mistake, ask a friend or family member to listen to you recite that passage as they follow along in their Bible. Make sure they immediately correct any mistakes you make.
When you're able to recite the Bible passage to yourself and to another person without making a single mistake, you have a decision to make.
If you only want to remember the passage short-term, you're done! But if you want to keep that passage in your memory long-term you have one more very important step to take. Many people forget about this final step, but it is critical to remembering any Bible passage long-term.
It's time to learn about long-term Bible memory skills. Click here to advance to the final Step 3.