Scripture Memory, Spiritual Disciplines

Remembering God’s Instructions: Tips for Memorization

Last week, we focused on Preparation for Memorization. This week, we’ll go a bit further as we examine a few techniques for memorization. Try a few of these suggestions on for size:

  1. Find the rhythm. While not every Bible passage is poetic, most have a discernable rhythm. Taking the time to figure out the natural “beat” of the passage can make a big difference in your ability to recall the actual words. You may even try setting that beat to a tune!
  2. Write it out. There is something about printing words on a page which helps us focus our attention. As you transfer God’s Words from your Bible to a notebook or scrap of paper, you’ll be carefully considering their order and meaning.
  3. Draw it. While words convey meaning, we see so many words during any given day that it can be difficult to recall their context. Taking time to illustrate a verse with pertinent images can provide that context. Even writing the words with different colored pencils can provide your mind with the visual cue it needs.
  4. Find a study partner. Partners help keep us accountable and can help us through rough spots. Ask a friend or friends to share the memorization journey with you.
  5. Don’t give up. Like making the perfect burger or avoiding obstacles with a pallet jack, this is one of those things that we get better at, the more often we do it. It’s okay if it takes a week or even a month to memorize a single verse. The point is to guarantee that we’ll remember it when the pressure is on.
  6. Don’t forget to review! Set aside time on a regular basis to go over the verses you’ve learned. But don’t panic if you’ve forgotten a few. That’s normal. The goal is to keep all of your hard work fresh in your mind.

The more you memorize the more comfortable you’ll become with the discipline. As time passes, you may even discover or develop some techniques that are all your own! When you do, I hope you’ll come back and share them with us.

Next week, we’ll shift our focus from remembering God’s instructions and take a look at some tips for remembering the instructions that we’re given by our earthly bosses. Meanwhile, feel free to share tips you may have on either topic in the comment box below!

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Bible Study, Spiritual Disciplines

Hearing vs. Remembering: A Matter of Time and Attention

Taking the time to listen to what both God and your earthly boss have to say is a fantastic step in the right direction. Unfortunately, all of those hours are worthless if you can’t later recall what was said and put it into practice. Few things are quite as embarrassing as performing a task poorly or incorrectly because you weren’t actually paying attention to the directions being given.

If you’ve ever frozen on a test, you know exactly how this feels. It’s crunch time and, despite the many hours you’ve dedicated to reviewing flash cards, taking lecture notes, and faithfully attending your study group, you simply aren’t prepared. You’ve heard the answers before, but hearing them wasn’t enough. You need to remember them. And you don’t. Your body was present, but your mind was somewhere else and your grades will soon reflect this reality.

The truth is that spending hours reading a textbook, the Employee Handbook, or God’s Word often gives us a keen sense of accomplishment. We can quantify the number of hours spent and the pages read. Such success may even lead us to surmise that we’re reasonably diligent students, employees, or disciples of Christ. (After all, who actually reads any of these books in their entirety?) But this diligence isn’t enough to guarantee a good grade. Time, alone, doesn’t ensure that we’ll remember what we read when we’re put to the test.

The writers of the Bible recognized this and advised both the House of Israel and the Christian believers to devote themselves to those things which would help them remember God’s instructions. In Deuteronomy 6:7-8, the Israelites are commanded to, “teach them [God’s instructions] diligently to your sons and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (NASB) And in 2 Timothy 2:15, the Apostle Paul advises his young student to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV) (See Psalm 119; Proverbs 22:17, 23:12; Ecclesiastes 7:25; and 2 Peter 1:5-8 for a few more examples.)

The truth is, if you’re going to be an “A” student, you need to study and this involves more than just the consumption of information. Diligent study requires not just time, but attention. And in a good study program a large part of both are devoted to memorization. Next week, we’ll take a look at this vital skill, but for now, feel free to share your own thoughts on the subject in the comment box below!

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