How to Memorize Scripture—Part 3

Developing Your System for Memorization

This is part three of this article. Please click here to read part one, or part two.

Now here is where my plan gets unique from others. When I decided to start memorizing seriously in 1978, I thought through how I was going to be using what I had memorized. I had two situations in my ministry where I most often needed to know the Bible—when I was preaching and when I was talking with people one-on-one in soulwinning or counseling. When I was preaching, I really didn’t need to know the reference, because I could write that in my notes. I could write: Joshua 1:8 and if I had memorized the verse, seeing that reference would trigger it in my mind and I could quote it. But when I was talking with people personally, I really didn’t need to know the verse, because I usually had my Bible with me and I could show them the verse (which is usually wise anyway in soulwinning), but I needed to know the reference so that I would know where to turn.

Most memory plans have cards with the reference on one side of the card and then you flip it over and the verse is written out on the reverse side. That’s great, but it wasn’t going to meet my need. So, I decided that I needed to memorize both the reference and the verse. I took my subject, such as “hell” and found all of the verses in my concordance on that subject. I chose the ones I wanted to memorize and arranged them in chronological order (as they come in the Bible). This is already done in the concordance, but I chose to skip some and memorize others. I was now going to memorize that entire block of verses, in order as they come in the Bible, with both reference and the verse.

 So, on the front of the card, I wrote “Hell #1” as illustrated below:

 Front of the card:                                    


  Hell # 1









When I flipped the card over, I wrote out the reference and the verse as illustrated: 

Back of the card

Psalm 9:17

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.








As I memorized that subject, I memorized not only the verse but the reference with it. The first verse in that stack of cards then cued me to the second verse with its reference and text, and the second verse cued me to the third verse, etc. Thus, I memorized an entire block of verses together under one subject, all in order as they came in the Bible chronologically.

The second card in my series of verses on the subject of “Hell” looked like this:

 Front of the card:


  Hell # 2









Back of the card:


Matthew 3:12

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.







This method creates a catalog of verses in your mind under various topics and you are able to use them to apply to needs at any time. For the soulwinner, if someone you meet says, “Well, I don’t believe in a place called hell!” Immediately, you know right where to take him in the Bible and show him the evidence of God’s Word. For the preacher or teacher, as you are preparing a sermon or lesson, and the text you are preaching deals with a specific subject, immediately you have your own “mental concordance” on that subject to draw from. (Here is where all that time you thought you were wasting by “writing and memorizing verses” is going to come back and save you hours of searching for just the right verse.) If you are memorizing more than one verse in a row: for example, let’s say you are on the subject of “Hell” and you want to memorize Luke 16:19-31, which is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. On the front of the card, you put “Hell # 8, or whatever number it is in your sequence. On the back you write: Luke 16:19-31. Get as many of the verses as you can on that first card and then start a second card. On the front of it you would put “Hell # 8b” and continue the text on the back. If you need a third card, it would be “Hell # 8c,” and so on.

Now you have your stack of cards. You may have selected five or ten under a particular topic or hundreds—it all depends on how comprehensive you want to be. Just remember, you are doing this so you can use it—not just to see how many you can memorize. This isn’t VBS—there are no ribbons—this is ministry, but there are rewards!

Let’s start memorizing. We’ve got our tool—now let’s make it work!


This is part three of this article. Please click here to read part four.

This article is an excerpt from Appendix 1 of Homiletics from the Heart available from Striving Together Publications.

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