How to set powerful goals for memorizing scripture

Do you find memorizing scripture to be an intimidating idea? Sometimes the reason is not that we don’t know how, but that we don’t meet the challenge with the right degree of intentionality. Having goals for memorizing scripture is a powerful way to overcome the intimidation and grow your knowledge of the Bible.

Memorizing scripture beyond Sunday School

For many people, the first exposure they have to scripture memorization is in Sunday school. In exchange for being able to recite a Bible verse in class on Sunday, children are often given something tantalizing to the senses such as candy. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this approach. It achieves its goal, and often children remember the verses many years later. But for many people, this is the only exposure they have to scripture memorization. For most of us, the old trick of tantalizing the senses doesn’t work anymore, in part because we can go and buy candy whenever we want, but more likely because we’ve never had a greater motivation to memorize scripture than that sensory inducement. As an adult, we sometimes don’t make the step from the goals of childhood to those of adulthood. Scripture memorization is one of these areas that we were never particularly intentional about as children (except for candy) and therefore we are often not intentional as adults. Therefore, while we all know we should memorize Scripture, we often fail to do so. One of the main reasons we struggle to memorize scripture is that we don’t set meaningful goals.
One of the main reasons we struggle to memorize scripture is that we don’t set meaningful goals.

Why memorizing scripture is important

I know you recognize the value of memorizing scripture, but here are a few reasons to memorize scripture. You’ll find a full explanation for each of these points here.
    • Memorizing scripture will give you something to meditate on (Josh 1:8)
    • Memorizing scripture will help you know the will of God (Phil 1:9, Col 1:9)
    • Memorizing scripture will help you apply the word of God (Josh 1:8)
    • Memorizing scripture will help you avoid sin (Ps 119:11)
    • Memorizing scripture will help you minister to others (Col 3:16)

Memorizing scripture requires bigger goals

When I started memorizing scripture, it was largely out of boredom. I had a job that didn’t need much concentration, so I felt that I had time to memorize scripture while I was working. Even if you have a mentally taxing job, we have a lot of time that we spend doing things where our minds are disengaged from important activities. These times can be harnessed to grow our love for the Lord and His Word. Initially, I started memorizing verses scattered throughout the Bible. After a couple of weeks, I decided there must be an easier way. There is. But it seemed more daunting when I first thought of it.

Set a goal of memorizing a chapter at a time

I never thought, when I started memorizing scripture that I’d ever memorize a whole chapter. I don’t think it even dawned on me to consider it. But as I memorized individual verses, I found it easy to mix up a piece of this verse with a piece of that one, and then I’d put them together and recite them as if they were a single verse. Or I’d forget the reference. Or I’d just forget to recall and revise a verse and then I’d forget it. Here are some other reasons memorizing a chapter at a time is better than memorizing individual verses.
      • Memorizing a section that flows together in a logical sequence is easier than memorizing random verses from around the Bible. Add a verse, then tie it into the verses you’ve already learned. Before you know it, you’ll be reciting whole paragraphs.
      • You’ll learn and meditate on the argument of the passage as well as just a single concept.
      • Memorizing a chapter reinforces the fact that every word of God is important. I often ask myself why the author chose that particular word when another would have done. Such questions often yield rich fruit.
      • The passage will affect you more profoundly since the arguments of Scripture will impact you more richly. Many people don’t realize that the Bible argues for and against positions. When you see these arguments, you’ll love them.
      • You don’t have to memorize references since you’ll know what chapter to find it in and that is normally enough.

Where to start

If you’re stuck for which passages to memorize, here are some starter ideas:
      • Romans 1
      • Ephesians 2
      • Colossians 3
      • Philippians 4
      • 1 Corinthians 2
If you have a favorite verse, you might want to consider memorizing the chapter in which that verse is found. This way, you’ll memorize the context of the verse, and you’ll probably learn a lot that you didn’t know by memorizing just that one verse. Once you’ve done one chapter, recite the chapter at least once each day to retain it. After you’ve memorized a whole chapter, consider adding the next chapter. If you do this with Ephesians 1 and add five more chapters, you’ll have memorized the entire book.
The degree of commitment and intentionality we give to something often reflects the ambition of our goals.

Are your goals too small?

If you’ve ever tried memorizing scripture and given up, perhaps it was because your goals were too small. The degree of commitment and intentionality we give to something often reflects the ambition of our goals. If you have benefitted from memorizing scripture at all, challenge yourself to a bigger goal. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong pursuit (i.e. you don’t need to memorize the entire Bible), but if you memorize and retain one new chapter every six months, your mind will be fuller with the wealth of the word of God, and this will overflow to others. Memorizing scripture is a powerful tool for change, but it requires powerful goals to achieve success.
Scroll to Top