Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scripture Memory 101

Have you ever thought memorizing God's Word was an imposible task? I know I have. I would write verses everywhere, carry them with me and even hang them in ziploc bags in the shower. Seriously.

Then I met Daniel Oh, a man who trains missionaries all over the world. He was a teacher at the mission class, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, that I attended. As he closed the class he said that he wanted to leave us with a passage from Philippians. He did not grab his Bible nor did he pull out an index card. No, he began quoting from chapter one, verse one. One minute passed, one chapter passed, seven minutes passed, two chapters...

... and then he stopped because the class time had ended. He stopped at the end of chapter two and told us to read the rest of Philippians on our own. I sat there mesmerized with the ability he had just demonstrated and the passion with which he had quoted a large part of Scripture. He did not stutter or fumble. It sounded like God was talking through him. And He was. After class I rushed up to Daniel and asked enthusiastically HOW he memorized Scripture (or anything!) like that. He said, "It's is quite simple." Ha, I thought, I have heard that many times before... but this time he was right! He explained that when we memorize verses like this:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Ephesians 1:3
we are causing our brains to work harder than need be and we are only retaining the information in the first level of memory. He grabbed a piece of paper and began writing the same verse above like this:

E 1:3-P b t t G a F o o L J C, w h b u i t h r w e s b i C.

He explained that memorizing with the first letter of each word allows your brain to store the information at the deepest level of memory possible. Your brain is an amazing organ that can fill in the words faster than if you tried to memorize it using the full word. He said that it helps to keep punctuation, including capitalization, so that you are able to break up the structure easily.

After you have memorized a passage of Scripture with the above look he said to move on to the first letter of each prase, which for Ephesians 1:3 would look like the following:

E 1:3- P, w.

So I have been trying it. And it works. I began memorizing Ephesians 1:3-10 last night at about 11PM. Several months ago it would have looked like this:

"3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."

Now, it looks like this:

3- P b t t G a F o o L J C, w h b u i t h r w e s b i C
4- F h c u i H b t c o t w t b h a b i H s. I l
5- h p u t b a a H s t J C, i a w H p a w-
6- t t p o H g g, w H h f g u i t O H l.
7- I H w h r t H b, t f o s, i a w t r o G g
8- t H l o u w a w a u.
9- A H m k t u t m o H w a t H g p, w H p i C,
10- t h p i e w t t w h r t f- t b a t i h a o e t u o h, e C.

I am boasting in Christ when I say that I have this passage almost memorized. It only took me twelve hours- eight of those I was sleeping and another three I have been at work. I am so excited that God has given me a tool that allows me to memorize His Word to the depth of my soul. Now, I will say this, I have been studying this passage, so I know that some of it has flowed easier. BUT, I did try other random passages to test myself and it worked on them too! Another thing I do is get a visual picture of what is happening in the passage. I also imagine how the person might have sounded if they had been talking to me.

Tonight, I hope to write out the passage like this (first letter of each phrase):

3- P, w. 4- F. I 5- h, i- 6- t, w. 7- I,t, i 8- t. 9- A, w, 10- t- t, e.

After that it is down to the first letter of each verse:

3- P 4- F 5- h 6- t 7-I 8- t 9- A 10- t.

If you don't believe me, try it. Mr. Oh has 25 books of the Bible memorized this way. He did Romans in two months and Philippians in a few weeks.

And hey, I did Ephesians 1:3-10 in about 30 minutes.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17


Kathie said...

Thank you for sharing this. My small group works at memorizing scripture...we actually are working on Philippians and have been for probably 9 months. We are at the end of chapter 4. I am going to try this. Thanks again :)

Ann Marie said...

that is amazing! thanks you sooo very much for sharing this little trick. God's design of our brains is absolutely amazing. i used to be able to memorize very, very easily, but between brain tumors and being hit by cars, my memory seems to have been backlisted somewhere. it's been such a struggle, and i am soooo excited to have a new idea! ok, i'm going to go play pick-a-passage and start the memorizing!

BenZ said...

You're insane, and you're making it up! That's crazy! I'm gonna try it because I AM crazy!

Autumn said...

cool! I have been taught this method before except I never knew to take it a step further and only the the phrases or first word of a verse... very interesting. I'll have to try it again.