How to Memorize a Lot of Bible Verses (Because We Want God’s Word to Reside in Us and Change Our Lives & Hearts)
Here are ten practical tips beyond the seven basic ideas (having tricks helps!):
1. At the beginning of a specific, finite project, I write the whole set of verses out on cards, with the text on one side of a card (I use our outdated business cards, but index cards would be fine), and the reference on the other side. Then I apply a dark-colored little sticky note (or cut one smaller) to cover up the verse numbers in the reference (for a project all from the same book, I leave visible the book name and chapter number; for a project with only one verse each from different books, I leave only the book name visible and cover all the numbers). Then I can learn and test myself on both the reference and the text.
2. I read through ALL the verses on the first day of the project (or even before the start date!), and work on as many as I can get to (not just the first one). Some of them are already fairly familiar to me from reading them before and hearing them in sermons, etc.
3. To start learning a verse, I read it, then cover it up and try to recite as much as I can. I just keep looking and covering, looking and covering, until I can recite all of it. I may not remember it the next time I come back to work on it, but I will relearn it much faster the second time, etc.
4. If I’m finding it difficult to remember a reference, or what text it goes with, I try to figure out some silly connection that probably makes sense only to me. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, it just has to work to trigger my memory. For example, for Romans 9:23, I linked the 9 with the text by visualizing the 9 as a magnifying glass which showed the riches of His glory to us. The consecutive digits in 23 somehow made sense to me as two items next to each other (the riches of His glory, next to the objects of His mercy). Another example: for Romans 13:12, I used the 13 as a trigger of it being very late at night, i.e. past midnight (even though the 13 is really just past noon on the 24-hour clock!), so that reminded me of the "night" theme in the verse. Then the 12 is only one fewer than the 13, so that was easy to remember. Remember, your memory-stimulating connections don’t have to make sense to anyone but you, and silly is helpful because it’s memorable!
5. Each day I make sure I know the verse actually assigned to that day, but I also try to get ahead and learn as many as I can that are supposed to be for later. This way they are quite familiar by the time I get to their actual assigned day.
6. Each day I revise/review/recite all the verses I have learned so far, until I have learned all of them and can recite both the reference and the text. Then I review them all every few days.
7. After I am pretty well remembering the verses, I mix up the order of the cards, so I can also remember them out of order. Also then to make it interesting later as I am reviewing, I start with the cards text-side up and make sure I can recite the whole reference given just the text. I suppose you would call that knowing them backwards and forwards! :-) This is generally easier (and of course faster to say!).
8. As I review much later, to keep the verses current in my head, I will usually find a few that I’m not remembering as well. Then I make two stacks - the ones that come easily and automatically, and then another stack for the ones I have some trouble with. Then I review that second stack more often than the first one (just as one does learning a piano piece - practice the hard parts more).
9. When I begin a new memorization project, I keep my older cards from previous sessions nearby, and review them from time to time, and mix some of the less-well-remembered ones in with the new set once I’ve done the basic memorization for the new project.
10. From time to time, at any point in the project, instead of specifically working on memorizing, I take the stack of cards and just pray through the verses, responding to God about what He’s saying in them. This is glorious (and a side effect is also solidifying of the memorization as they verses now have more depth). Of course, I can’t help talking to God in thankfulness during my ordinary memory work as well, since His promises and deeds and thoughts are so wonderful.
I hope you have found something useful in these ten points ...
As far as being able to recite/type all the verses you’ve learned in a row, that is the absolute beauty of learning one verse per chapter of a book - as long as you learn the references along with the text, so you know what chapter each verse is located in, all you then have to do is count through the chapters and recite one verse for each chapter - and, I suppose, remember how many chapters are in each book ... but that should come along with the memorization, as you’ll eventually get up to a chapter number you have no text for ... which means you’re done with the book! :-) In the case of learning one verse per book of the Bible, you do need to learn the order of the books in the Bible in order to recite them all - which can be done with a song.