For the longest time, I have wanted to memorize a whole book of the Bible. That’s right! Not a single verse, not a few verses, not a just a paragraph, or even just a chapter, but I want to memorize a whole book of the Bible. Let me tell you why.
First, while memorizing individual verses can be very beneficial, there are some downsides to it. One downside of memorizing a single verse is that you tend to miss intervening verses that help make that single verse make proper sense. For example, say you wanted to memorize the oft-quoted Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That’s a wonderful sentiment, but if you just memorized that verse you would completely miss the context of what the LORD was actually going to do. Memorizing chapters 29–33 might help you get the context!
Second, most of Scripture is written in a way that requires you to actually read more than one verse. The letters of the New Testament were all read in a single sitting when they were delivered. It wasn’t as if you had to keep coming back Sunday after Sunday to hear the next part! You can follow the argument of the book or letter of Scripture better if you sit down to read it in one sitting!
So, why put in the effort to memorize a whole book of the Bible? Because it is worth it. “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness… ” (2 Tim. 3:16). All Scripture, not some. All Scripture is from God and is profitable. So, putting in the effort to memorize a large chunk of God’s Word will pay off!
Some Things to Consider
Once you have reached this point and want to memorize a whole book of the Bible, you have to choose a book to memorize! This might be the hardest part of the whole process. It requires you to pray, asking God for the wisdom to use his Word rightly, it requires you to examine your own heart so that you may know what would best suit your needs, and it requires you to pick a book that fits your time schedule. Most of us wouldn’t have time to memorize all of the Psalms, but most of us would have time to memorize Ruth or Ephesians.
After you have chosen the book you want to memorize, now you have to decide how fast you want to memorize it! This means figuring out the right pace. One verse a day adding up to six verses a week (with a day off)? Maybe your schedule allows you to memorize faster than one verse a day, but whatever you choose make sure that you won’t get burned out!
So, count how many verses are in your book (Hint: The internet can tell you!). Then do some simple math to decide how many verses a week that would be (depending on how fast you wish to memorize) and choose a finish date.
Now that you have a tentative plan, there are some procedures that will help you memorize a large passage.
- Remember to review verses! After day one of memorizing the first verse, or however many verses you choose, remember to recite them the next day. You should do that before you move to the next new set of verse(s).
- Be sure to include the verse number when you recite. I know it sounds childish, but it will help you know the verse you are on so as not to leave out verses or forget your place!
- Get all of your senses involved while you memorize. Write the verses out on note cards. Make sure you can read your handwriting! Even memorize where each word is written on your card (this will go a long way for those of you who can visualize well).
- Walk around your house, room, or office as you recite the verses. When you recite them in the future it is likely that you will recall where you were when you previously recited those verses and it should help you recall faster.
- Say it out loud so that you can hear the words! Who cares if someone else hears! Get the sounds of the words in your ears.
- Most importantly though, read and recite the verses as if they were an actor’s script. This will bring the text to life. God’s Word isn’t meant to bore someone to death, but to revive the whole person! Be animated! Be creative!
So, there are a few reasons why you should memorize a whole book of the Bible and some ways to do it! Later today, if I remember, I will post an example so you can see what it looks like. And, so you aren’t putting me too high on a pedestal, I have attempted to memorize whole books in the past and have failed each time. At the first of the year, I made a resolution with my wife to memorize the book of Romans with her. I made it to chapter 1 verse 8. She is way ahead of me now…. Despite my failure to do this I still want to accomplish this great task. I am preaching through the book of Jonah starting on Sunday, so that would be a great book for me to do (it only has 48 verses).
That’s my exhortation to you. You can memorize a single verse if you like, but strive for more! I will leave you with this:
Psalm 119:9–11 (ESV)
9How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
10With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.