How Lettuce Helps Me Memorize Scripture
Adults have developed many excuses to convince themselves that memorizing Bible verses isn't important (click here to read the post). Despite what we may tell ourselves, our minds have an incredible ability to remember; we simply lack the creative energy or the creative methods to make the important things stick. Let me suggest a number of ways that you can develop Bible memory like you develop muscle memory:
Use Props and Associations
When I was a child in Sunday school, the classic strategy was writing a Bible verse on the blackboard and then erasing individual words and reading the verse aloud as a group. This was effective (reading something 20+ times over 20+ minutes will do this), but it was painfully boring. Thankfully, I also remember a teacher using a head of lettuce to help us remember the beginning of Galatians 6:9 (“Let us not become weary in doing good…”). I remember another time when a racing illustration was used: On your mark, get set, “Go into all the world and preach the good news…” (Mark 16:15). Be creative in how you develop associations to the key words you're memorizing. The options are nearly limitless.
Find a Partner
Sharing your goal with another person greatly increases your chance at succeeding. When you’re working with someone to memorize Scripture, it will also provide you with a number of creative options (i.e. you can text the verse to each other during the day or develop a scoreboard to see how each of you are doing).
Kids are naturally creative! Ask for them for ideas for how you can remember a verse and see what they come up with (scavenger hunt anyone?).
There’s a good chance that a musician has already developed a song from a verse you’re trying to memorize. Try googling the verse to see what comes up. You can also try writing your own song or taking an existing tune and exchanging its lyrics for the words from the verse (if you choose to do this, please upload your recording online and send me the link!).
Make it Visible
Save the verse as your computer’s screen saver or use it as the background image for your phone. Use sticky notes on your car’s dashboard or on your mirror in the bathroom. Set up a reoccurring meeting on your online calendar and include the verse in your meeting notes.
Develop a Pattern
Incorporate your practice into key parts of your day, such as when you enter your home or when you're washing your hands. Depending on the activity you choose, you can also include other family members or friends (i.e. during a meal, while you drive, etc.).
I recently downloaded a free app called Scripture Typer (it’s available on most tablets and phones and also online). This app allows you to choose a number of ways to memorize verses and you can chart your progress which is especially motivating for people who love competition. Another free option is a website called memverse.com. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow @WeeklyVerse which can help you learn a verse each week.
Pick a Verse or Passage that Matters to You
While there's good wisdom in memorizing key verses in the Bible (click here for a list I've developed), it’s also important to choose something that is relevant and applicable to your current situation.
Focus on Passages Instead of Verses
There’s nothing wrong with memorizing key verses in the Bible (see above), but choosing a passage of the Bible is usually easier to memorize because there is a natural flow from verse to verse and you will notice a repetition of words and themes. It can feel quite rewarding when you commit an entire chapter or book to memory. Even better, you will develop a better contextual understanding for what you are committing to memory.
Develop a Goal
There's a huge difference between trying to memorize something and having a goal for memorizing something. When you don't give yourself a deadline, you will lose focus and urgency and your chances of committing anything to memory are slim. Establish a reasonable goal and chart your progress. Whenever you make a goal, it can be helpful to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, time-bound (here's an excellent blog on how to develop an achievable goal)
I’m sure you have other ideas for memorizing Scripture. Please take a moment to share an idea with the rest of us by replying through your social media channel.
Keith Reed is the Associate Director of MinistryLift at MB Seminary.