Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Extended Scripture Memorization by Andrew Davis

An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture
Dr. Andrew Davis [abridged]

The Value of Scripture Memorization

“make every effort to add to our faith goodness, and to goodness knowledge…” (2 Peter 1:5).

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16)

How better can you obey Colossians 3:16 than by Scripture memorization?

Memorizing Books Is Better Than Memorizing Individual Verses

Most of Scripture is written to make a case… there is a flow of argumentation that is missed if individual verses are memorized.  [to read more click below ...]

Making the Commitment Before God

Ask Him humbly for help... Ask for protection from spiritual pride… God HATES pride in every form (see Isaiah 2:6-22 and Luke 18:9-14), Then, humbly commit to God that you will invest time in scripture memorization.

Choosing Your First Book

Some practical concerns:

1) Not too long (or too short?): The greatest obstacle to lasting achievement in this arena is lack of perseverance. We usually give up because the way seems too long. You must get the discipline deeply rooted in your daily habits and you must develop your memory skills before you can attempt a really long book. Start with one around 90-160 verses long.

2) One that stirs your passions: Choose a book that God has used to minister to you, that would be useful in ministry to others. You should also choose a book that still has some mysteries to you, that you see as an adventure in learning.

Surveying the Terrain

The next step is to survey the entire book and set a finish date. I always recommend taking one day off per week.

The way you survey the terrain is this:
1) Count the number of verses in the entire book.
2) Divide that number by the number of verses you will memorize per week. This is how many weeks the book should take you.
3) Look at a calendar and determine a tentative finish date.
4) Add 10% so as to not feel under tremendous pressure until you get used to this lifestyle (i.e. If you are doing Ephesians—155 verses—at the rate of 6 verses per week, it will take you 26 weeks, or exactly 6 months; add 10%--3 weeks—for a total of 29 weeks).
5) Make a covenant before the Lord that, with His help, you will memorize this book by this date. Sign and date the covenant, and put it in a place where you can get to it regularly when the times get tough.

Daily Procedures

Always give priority to the retaining of old verses even over learning new ones. Always begin every day’s work with review of old verses.

Saying a verse 100 times in one day is not as helpful as saying it every day for 100 days. The absolute key to successful memorization is repetition over a long time period. This is how you retain old verses while learning new ones.

It is well-worth the extra effort to memorize the verse numbers as if they were part of each verse.

The memorization process is connected very closely to the eye. Read each new verse ten times, covering each word as though photographing it with your eyes. I can still remember where some particular verses were on the page of the Bible I first used to memorize them. Burn each verse into your brain with your eyes.

Say it out loud. The additional sensory input to your brain helps memorization. It doesn’t have to be very loud, just so you can hear it. Also, try putting some feeling and interpretation into the verses as a form of meditation.

Sample daily procedure for memorizing Ephesians one verse per day:

 Day one: Read Ephesians 1:1 out loud ten times, photographing each word with your eyes.

Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

 Day two: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite Ephesians 1:1 ten times. Look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Now, read your new verse, Eph 1:2, out loud ten times, photographing it with your eyes. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

 Day four: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite Eph 1:3 ten times. Next recite Eph 1:1-3 together once. Now, your new verse. Read Eph 1:4 out loud ten times, photographing it with your eyes. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

This cycle continues through the entire book. Obviously, the “old verses altogether” stage will soon swell to take the most time of all. That’s exactly the way it should be. The entire book of Ephesians can be read in less than fifteen minutes. Keep your Bible ready at hand, in case you get stuck.

Long-Term Retention

With no missed days Ephesians can be done in 26 weeks. When it is, you should stop to celebrate!!! Get on your knees and give thanks to God for His goodness to you.

But after your celebration is done, you need to get back to work. If you have done the “old verses altogether” stage faithfully, this next stage should not be overly burdensome, even though it may seem like it will. RECITE THE ENTIRE BOOK FROM MEMORY FOR 100 CONSECUTIVE DAYS.

After about the second week you probably won’t even need the Bible to do this. Thus, you can do this step while in the shower, while driving, while washing dishes, while walking down the road, while exercising… IT WILL ADD NO EXTRA TIME TO YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE!!

What is more, it is in this stage that you begin to see the scope of the entire book of Ephesians (or whatever book you have memorized). You will see large themes that unite chapters together, you will see the flow of the argument, you will discover new things that you never knew before.

Be tough with yourself… 100 days without missing a single one! You can do it, and you’ll be glad you did. When that is over, then stick the book in a slot (Monday morning, let’s say), and recite on Monday morning for the rest of your life. You will never forget it.

However, don’t forget to weed the garden. As you recite a book over a long period of time without looking at the Bible, you will gradually begin to make little mistakes or leave verses out. So, perhaps every other month just read once through the book to correct errors… this will “weed the garden.”

Memorizing Long Books & Memorizing Faster

To memorize longer passages, follow the same method while covering multiple verses. The key is to keep your review times less than 20 minutes.

The High School Method of Long-Term Review

1) Read Matthew with a stop watch, and time out ten minutes of verses, reading at a normal rate. This may be Matthew 1-5, depending on your normal reading rate. (I average about 125 verses for 10 minutes). NOTE: Stop at major chapter divisions… Dig deep and get to the end of the nearest chapter, even if it’s 11 minutes of reading for you.

2) Recite Mat 1-5 every day for 25 days. After about 15 days, you should be able to do it without the Bible, if you did your work well the first time you memorized these verses. Then just do it in the shower or while driving, etc.

3) On days 26 - 50, read Matt 6-8 while continuing Matthew 1-5. At the end of this period, you will have done Matthew 1-5 for 50 straight days, and Matthew 6-8 for 25.

4) On days 51 -75, read Matt 9-12, continue Matthew 1-8. etc…

5) As in a high school, Matthew 1-5 is your “senior class”, Matt 6-8 your “junior class,” Matt 9-12 your “sophomore class,” and Matt 13-15 your “freshman class.” The entire reciting process should take no more than 45 minutes, if you’ve done your timing right. NOTE… by this time, you should be able to recite Matthew 1-12 at least with no Bible at all while you do other things… thus, you will only be memorizing for 15-20 minutes at most.

6) To maintain, simply recite it every Monday, in addition to the ongoing work you’re doing… or, of that’s too much, just review it once a month to keep it fresh.

Now, add the next “ten minutes” of Matthew, to replace the “senior class” that just graduated… perhaps its Matthew 16-19. Keep on going with Matthew 6-8 (your new “senior class”), Matthew 9-12 (“junior class”), and Matthew 13-15 (“sophomore class”). At the end of this next period, you will have done Matthew 6-8 for 100 days, Matthew 9-12 for 75 days, Matthew 13-15 for 50 days, and Matthew 16-19 for 25 days.

Sample Weekly Schedule for Ephesians

Week 1 Ephesians 1:1-1:6

Week 2 Ephesians 1:7-1:12 Ephesians 1:1-1:6

Week 3 Ephesians 1:13-1:18 Ephesians 1:1-1:12

Week 4 Ephesians 1:19-2:1 Ephesians 1:1-1:18

Week 5 Ephesians 2:2-2:7 Ephesians 1:1-2:1

Week 6 Ephesians 2:8-2:13 Ephesians 1:1-2:7

Week 7 Ephesians 2:14-2:19 Ephesians 1:1-2:13

Week 8 Ephesians 2:20-3:3 Ephesians 1:1-2:19

Week 9 Ephesians 3:4-3:9 Ephesians 1:1-3:3

Week 10 Ephesians 3:10-3:15 Ephesians 1:1-3:9

Week 11 Ephesians 3:16-3:21 Ephesians 1:1-3:15

Week 12 Ephesians 4:1-4:6 Ephesians 1:1-3:21

Week 13 Ephesians 4:7-4:12 Ephesians 1:1-4:6

Week 14 Ephesians 4:13-4:18 Ephesians 1:1-4:12

Week 15 Ephesians 4:19-4:24 Ephesians 1:1-4:18

Week 16 Ephesians 4:25-4:30 Ephesians 1:1-4:24

Week 17 Ephesians 4:31-5:4 Ephesians 1:1-4:30

Week 18 Ephesians 5:5-5:10 Ephesians 1:1-5:4

Week 19 Ephesians 5:11-5:16 Ephesians 1:1-5:10

Week 20 Ephesians 5:17-5:22 Ephesians 1:1-5:16

Week 21 Ephesians 5:23-5:28 Ephesians 1:1-5:22

Week 22 Ephesians 5:29-6:1 Ephesians 1:1-5:28

Week 23 Ephesians 6:2-6:7 Ephesians 1:1-6:1

Week 24 Ephesians 6:8-6:13 Ephesians 1:1-6:7

Week 25 Ephesians 6:14-6:19 Ephesians 1:1-6:13

Week 26 Ephesians 6:20-6:24 Ephesians 1:1-6:19

Some Old Testament Number of Verses

Genesis 1533

Exodus 1213

Leviticus 859

Numbers 1288

Deuteronomy 959

Joshua 658

Judges 618

Ruth 85

1 Samuel 810

2 Samuel 695

1 Kings 816

2 Kings 719

1 Chronicles 942

2 Chronicles 822

Ezra 280

Nehemiah 406

Esther 467

Job 1070

Psalm 2461

Proverbs 915

Ecclesiastes 222

Song of Solomon 117

Isaiah 1292

Jeremiah 1364

Lamentations 154

Ezekiel 1273

Daniel 357

Hosea 197

Joel 73

Amos 146

Obadiah 21

Jonah 48

Micah 105

Nahum 47

Habakkuk 56

Zephaniah 53

Haggai 38

Zechariah 211

Malachi 55

Some New Testament Number of Verses

Matthew 1071

Mark 678

Luke 1151

John 879

Acts 1007

Romans 433

1 Corinthians 437

2 Corinthians 257

Galatians 149

Ephesians 155

Philippians 104

Colossians 95

1 Thessalonians 89

2 Thessalonians 47

1 Timothy 113

2 Timothy 83

Titus 46

Philemon 25

Hebrews 303

James 108

1 Peter 105

2 Peter 61

1 John 105

2 John 13

3 John 14

Jude 25


Jharlan said...

we r doing Ephesians ch 1 right now. This software has been a big help:

We should talk more about this. I am working on Rom 6 with a friend and Rom on my own SDG

Tea Lady said...

Ephesians 1:1-6 really came together quickly. Ended up breaking up verses 7 - 12 into two weeks, as I kept getting them all jumbled together, as Paul does repeat himself, but not with the whole prepositional phrase each time!

Jharlan said...

We are taking it at about 1-2 verses per week with some weeks as review. We've noticed the same challenge with certain repeated phrases but with slight differences. It has been greatly worth the effort though. Now I can meditate on the "riches of His grace which He lavished upon us" everywhere from my car to waiting in line at lunch.

Also, my wife and I noticed that in the ESV there was an update between the 2001 and 2007 edition to vs. 5 which caused confusion: