A Five-Step Memory

By Raffette Alston

Sometimes I walk into the kitchen and completely forget why I made the trip. The older I get the more I lean on God to refresh my memory. With 12-character passwords, countless meetings, playdates, anniversaries, birthdays, social events, and everything in between the last thing we want to add to our plate is memorizing anything. But what if I told you that memorizing scripture changes your life? It’s true. It does and it will. Hear me out. I am not talking about surface memorization like memorizing your third-grade spelling words for the big test on Friday. Think knowing God’s Word so well it is etched on your heart and it flows from your mouth. 

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 7:2-3 to “keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablets of your heart.” Imagine in every moment of your life, from trial to triumph, you have God’s Word at the ready to speak over your life. That’s what having His words on the tablets of your heart does for you. Memorizing scripture prepares you to speak God’s truth over your entire life and the lives of others. 

For a considerable amount of time in my life, I tried to memorize the scriptures I saw on journal covers, on the decor at Hobby Lobby, and on those tiny little embroidery hoops on display. But they just did not stick. I wanted to be able to recite scripture like my mother. I wanted to be just like my mom in that way. She could tell you the chapter and verse of scripture before the pastor could finish. She was so swift that she could finish reciting the verse before you could flip to it in the Bible. I thought that was so cool. She did not need the index. She knew the Bible. She knew more than where to find words in scripture. She knew the meaning. It seemed effortless for her, and for onlookers it was effortless. However, at that time I did not know what it took for her to get there. I was not with her in her prayer closet or in every moment she stayed awake with her Bible and searched for the context. This was long before Bible apps and Google. She spent time in the Word mulling over His truths until it was embossed on her heart and secured to her memory. Her walk encouraged me to pursue my own personal relationship with Christ. She walked 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always.” When I look at her life in full scope, I see how she could. You will only ever know that God is good when you know God. She knew Him. She knew God because she spent time in His Word. She could rejoice always because of His words.  His encouraging, uplifting, enlightening truth that which she knew so well, she would recite verbatim.

At this point, you are ready to dive in, right? Here are some practical steps for memorizing scripture. 

  1. PRAY – God knows your every need. Ask God to reveal to you exactly what you need. Pray that He reveals his message to you and that He makes clear those things that seem unclear to you. Pray that He opens your eyes, your ears, and your heart so that you may receive exactly what He has in store for you in His Word. Pray that He gives you the boldness to share what you have learned. 
  2. PLAN YOUR TIME – Let’s be honest. We plan and make time for everything else. Let’s be intentional and plan time to spend in His Word. If you are a person who lives by their tangible planner or lives by the calendar reminders on your phone, go ahead and mark this time in your calendar or planner. Make it special, grab your favorite coffee or tea, and make room for Him. 
  3. READ THE FULL CONTEXT – This will take a little rolling up of the sleeves if you will. Take time to read the full context of what you are reading. This may require you to ask some questions so you understand the story. We all love a good story because stories help our recall. Did you know that stories are 22 times more memorable than statistical data? So, reading, learning, and understanding from a story will help you remember and memorize scripture. 
  4. WRITE IT OUT – Look at what you have read. There is a passage or verse in the scripture that you have read that stands out. Maybe it’s a passage or verse that you have read and reread several times. Write it out on a sticky note or index card. Then, place the note or index card where you will see it frequently (i.e. bathroom mirror, computer or laptop screen, car dashboard, etc). Each time you see it, say it. Challenge yourself to profess it without looking. Once you have it, share it. 
  5. SHARE IT – Have fun with it by sharing that passage with someone else. Pass it to the person in line behind you at the grocery store, slip it into a loved one’s lunchbox, or give it to a coworker who commutes with you to work. However you feel led, be sure to share what you have learned with someone else.

Pour in the same energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and intentionality you have when you cultivate new friendships into intimate time with the Lord to learn His Words and His ways. I needed Him to know when and what I did not understand and I needed Him to guide me. He can and will do the same for you. In those moments, He reveals the depths of His words with an understanding that we could not have uncovered on our own. Spending time in God’s Word and memorizing scripture will change you. The more time you send in His Word refreshes you, prepares you, and equips you for life. Memorizing scripture: 

  1. Brings us closer to God. James 4:8 says “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” You cannot get any closer than recitation. Think about your favorite song, you spend so much time listening to that particular song that you know all the lyrics, the chorus, the hook, and the remix if there is one because you have heard that song over and over and over again.
  2. Keeps us in line with God’s will. Scripture memorization cannot start and stop at what you can regurgitate from your mind like a string of words put together. They have to mean something to you. They should mean something to us because it is God’s will. We want to emulate Christ, but in order to do that we have to know His will. James 1:5 reminds us that “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”. You have the green light to go to him in all things, the BIG things and the small things. You have direct access to Him. He will guide you and make your path straight. Knowing His words and doing what He says keeps us in line with God’s will.

December 1, 2023