Choosing which book of the Bible to memorize might be harder than you think. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself.
Watch this video as I share my thoughts on choosing a book of the Bible to memorize or scroll down to read.
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There is no “right” or “wrong” way to memorize Scripture, let me just make sure we’re clear on that. My way of memorizing is different than Tom Meyer’s method of memorizing the Bible.
However, taking a measured approach to how we memorize the Word of God can help us in a number of ways, including keeping us motivated toward our goals.
Before you really dive into memorizing extended portions of Scripture, it’s important that you take the time to figure out both which Bible translation you’ll memorize as well as which book of the Bible you’ll start with.
Here are the four questions I challenge you to ask when considering which book to commit to memory.
1. Do I Want Abstract or Concrete?
Abstract ideas and concepts are generally harder to memorize than concrete details. For this reason, finding a story in the Bible that includes concrete characters, dialogue and a general plot can sometimes be beneficial.
A good example of a concrete book would be something like Jonah. It’s a story that we can easily follow that includes dialogue from a number of characters (Jonah, the fishermen, God).
On the other hand, I’ve started by memorizing books that are more abstract. Examples of this usually include most of Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
While this isn’t bad, I do find myself struggling at times to find ways to memorize general concepts and words that aren’t part of my daily vocabulary (i.e. “righteousness”, “rebuke” or “holiness”).
I usually tend to create mnemonics for these words that have absolutely no correlation to their meaning.
Again, this is a decision that you have to make. Do you prefer being able to recite the sermons of Paul or the stories of Jesus?
2. What is the Best Length? (Long vs short)
The length of the book you decide to memorize can have an impact on how fast you can memorize it as well as how long you can stay motivated to do so!
In the New Testament, the book of Luke is the longest (1151 verses) while the book of 2 John is the shortest (13 verses). Finding something that works for you in the middle is probably good.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Here’s a quick look at the lengths of each New Testament book based on the number of chapters, the number of verses, and the average verse per chapter.
The full breakdown of how many chapters and verses are in each book of the Bible can be found here.
I would take a good look at this list and choose a book between 3-5 chapters in length that you feel will be a worthy challenge without being crazy hard.
3. Which Book Has Personally Impacted Me?
Each of us have had different life experiences and have probably had different portions of Scripture impact us in unique ways.
If I were you, I would choose a portion of the Bible that has had a great impact on your life (even if it’s just one verse that was impactful). If this is part of an overwhelmingly long book of the Bible, then perhaps consider memorizing just a chapter or two of that book instead of the whole book, at least to start.
I do this a lot with the Psalms.
The idea of memorizing the entire collection of Psalms is ridiculous (at least right now). However, because Psalm 46 has had a profound impact on my life and has been used by God to grow me, I’ve committed that Psalm to memory.
Which book or section of the Bible has impacted you?
4. What Engages Me and Inspires Me?
Think of Bible memory kind of like a race. Better yet, a marathon.
I’ve trained for and run a marathon before, and I know just how it feels when that start gun goes off. The first 5-10 miles are a breeze!
…fatigue starts to set in during mile 11. You can’t feel your legs by mile 18. And you just want to curl up and die by mile 21.
Keep in mind that unless you have strong internal motivation, you’re probably going to go through that same string of emotions as you memorize a book of the Bible.
That’s why it’s so important that you find a book that engages and inspires you. Not just the first chapter, but the whole book.
I’ve heard too many people who tell me that they “started memorizing [name a book] but I never got past chapter 2”. This could be because they need to try different methods of memorizing the Bible, but it also could be because they lost the inspiration.
Yes, the entire Bible is inspired by God. I’m not saying that it’s boring.
But you need to be inspired in order to stay focused on your memory goal!