So you’ve memorized some verses… how do you keep them?

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Nearly two years ago I took part in Tim Brister’s “partnering to remember” challenge, working to memorize the book of Philippians by Easter 2011 (you can read about my experience here).

The challenge was one of the most rewarding activities I took part in during 2011. Memorizing the entire book was hard work, but well worth doing. For quite some time I found myself going back and repeating the work to keep it fresh.

But after a while… I kind of fell off the rails. The stuff of life just got in the way, I guess, and I didn’t keep up with the constant work of refreshing, or tending the garden if you will.

In what may be providential timing, just yesterday a Twitter friend asked me how my retention’s been and my strategies for long-term retention. Here are the things I’m implementing and finding helpful in order to retain Scripture memory over the long-haul:

1. Revisit regularly.

I’m currently revisiting my Philippians memorization work, and I’m pleased to find a lot of it’s still there. And the more I work on it, the more comes back to me.

This week, for example, I’ve been working through chapter one (again), and with only a few flubs got through to the end of Phil 1:30. “I am hard pressed between the two” (Phil 1:23a) is the most frequently missed portion of the chapter; nearly every time I miss it. So now I’m on the watch for it, and Lord willing, I’ll catch it this morning.

2. Find a friend to keep you accountable.

Something I’m starting to do is send out a message to the men in my small group letting them know where I’m at with my memorization. Periodically I’ll be asking them to ask me to recite a chapter. The reason I’m doing this is if no one knows I’m trying to do this, there’s no one to encourage me in it, especially when it gets hard (like when I keep missing Phil. 1:23a).

3. Stick to what works for you.

Whether it’s memorizing an entire book or a selection of important verses, find what works for you and do it. I really like memorizing a book because I love context and there’s something powerful about being able to recite the entirety of an epistle to myself, especially when I’m having a really rough day.

If you’re looking for a great tool to aid you in your memorization work, I’d recommend checking out The Verses Project. They offer a number of attractive desktop and background images for your computer, phone, and tablet, as well as a brief explanation of the verse itself, and a musical rendition (John 3:36 has a very bluesy/folk style to it).

That’s my current strategy for long-term retention. How about you?

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