For most people, including me at first, the idea of memorizing the whole Bible seems ludicrous. Absolutely impossible.
But for the past decade, I’ve never been able to shake this lingering question: Is it possible for me – an average person – to memorize the New Testament of the Bible word-for-word?
Follow along with all the Bible Memory Goal YouTube videos!
It’s not a matter of spirituality, as if memorizing the Bible would make me a better Christian. I’m not trying to enter a contest where the winner gets more favor from God or praise from the church community.
On the other hand, this isn’t purely an exercise of mental capacity. The woman who memorized all seven books of the Harry Potter series has already won that award. Good for her…
For me, it all boiled down to one thing:
If I truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God, how well do I really know it?
As if social media weren’t enough proof, studies consistently shown that almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible.
Bible illiteracy among Christians is at an all-time high.
That’s a problem too big for one person to tackle, but as with all such challenges in society, improvement starts with people like you and me making changes in our own lives.
Which brings me to the question: Is it possible to memorize the New Testament?
Breaking Down the New Testament
There are 27 individual books in the New Testament of the Bible.
Those books have been divided into 260 chapters.
Those chapters represent 7,957 verses.
It is estimated that the memory capacity of a human brain is at least 10 terabytes. A plain-text version of the Bible runs around 4.13 MB, with the New Testament accounting for only 23% of that.
The math on this is quite staggering.
What looked so impossible before now looks like a drop in the bucket. I mean, seriously…just .000001% of our brain capacity?
And what better way to exercise the muscle that is your brain than by dedicating time to memorizing the most influential book in human history?
I’d rather do that than memorize Harry Potter, that’s for darn sure.
Explaining the Goal
One reason why this goal feels so impossible is because since we were young children, we’ve been taught that rote memorization (saying it over and over until you remember it), is the best and/or only way to memorize.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, modern memory techniques have proven that if we treat our brain like a visual file cabinet, intentionally anchoring and encoding things we want to remember, you’d be amazed at how much you can remember.
The point here isn’t to dive into memory techniques…yet.
The point is that by using the proper technique, I believe it’s possible to not only memorize the Biblical text word-for-word, but to also encode is based on chapters and verses.
In other words, I want to be able to recall a New Testament verse based on the reference (i.e. “what does Galatians 2:20 say?”) or to recognize the reference based on the text (i.e. “Where is the verse that says “I have been crucified with Christ?”).
Is it possible?
Proving the Bible Memory Method
Prior to laying down the gauntlet for this challenge, I spent the last half a year consulting with memory experts and testing the resulting method. Instead of going for rote memory, I’ve been directed toward the use of memory palaces to memorize the Bible.
So far, I’ve been ecstatic by the results.
In a period of four months starting in October of 2020, I started to tackle my first books of the Bible. I chose the New International Version since it would be the one most familiar to myself and others.
In four months, I’ve been able to memorize 5 books of the Bible:
- Philemon (an easy one to start)
- 1 Thessalonians
I have specific reasons that I chose to memorize those books of the Bible, and I can now recite word-for-word in addition to all the chapters and verses.
It is possible, and I’ve set my goal to memorize the New Testament by the age of 40.
I’m turning 38 the month that I write this, so that gives me two years. A difficult challenge, for sure, but as I think I’ve explained here…not impossible.
But the next question is probably the most important one to ask.
Why Make a Public Show of Such a Goal?
I’ve spent a lot of time praying and seeking counsel from others about this. At first glance, this seems like a huge publicity stunt from a man who craves the approval of his peers.
And this is one reason why I’ve waited so long to make this public. I wanted to see if I could remain motivated to memorize even when nobody knew I was doing it and could give me a high-five for my effort.
One thing is definitely for sure:
I don’t believe that this goal earns me any extra merit from God or makes me a superior follower of Christ than anybody else.
So if merit and accolades aren’t the motivation, what is?
I’ve broken it down into three primary motivations.
1. Accountability to my Goal
I remember back in the day when people would publicly announce that they were doing P90x as a workout routine (is that still around?).
The purpose of doing it publicly was to create an accountability for completing the goal.
That’s part of my motivation here, too.
Setting the goal publicly gives me even more motivation to make it happen. I want people to ask me where I’m at, how it’s going and if I think I’ll still reach my goal. This is me, burning the ships to signal that there’s no going back.
2. Documenting the Process
If this wasn’t clear before, let me say it again: I am not a memory master.
I’m learning as I go, applying techniques acquired from others and developing some of my own along the way.
Internet marketing is also what I do for a living, so I’m excited to apply my business skills to something that I believe has eternal value. This project fuses together two important aspects of my life: online media and my faith.
I’m going to be documenting a lot of what I do on social media so that anybody – including you – could try to do the same.
Which leads me to the final motivating factor…
3. Inspiring Others to Memorize
I don’t expect anybody else to join me on this quest to memorize the New Testament (although, if you’re interested, please reach out to me!).
However, I would love it if this personal challenge could somehow break down your own limiting beliefs and make you think that maybe – just maybe – you could memorize a part of the Bible as well.
Perhaps a chapter; possibly one whole book of the Bible.
If I can do the whole New Testament (and trust me, I’m not the smartest person in most rooms I enter) then surely you could do more than you’re doing now.
And if I can inspire anybody to memorize more of the Bible, I think that would be worthwhile.
Follow Along the Journey
If I’ve somehow interested you enough in this goal to memorize the New Testament of the Bible in two years, I invite you to follow along the journey with me.
For now, I’ve decided to document the journey on Instagram as well as YouTube. You can find both of those here:
I’ll also be posting here on the website from time to time, explaining my thought process behind this goal as well as my methodology in case you want to understand the process.
If that interests you, feel free to add your email below. I promise the emails I send will be worthwhile and you can unsubscribe anytime without hurting my feelings 🙂