Monday, January 05, 2009

MMM: How Do You Memorize?

We're five days into Mega Memory Month, and perhaps you're wondering: How do I tackle this project?

We've all memorized plenty of things before--multiplication tables, important dates, vocabulary words. But how much of what you once memorized has long since disappeared from your brain? I've crammed for tests, only to forget all the information just hours later, let alone days or weeks. I've memorized Scripture before, only to have it fade from my memory.

Forget no more. The beauty of the memorization method I've discovered is that not only is it easy, but it also encourages long-term retention. Here's how well this method works: Two years after memorizing Romans 8 using this method, I can still rattle off the whole chapter pretty easily (I just had Steve test me the other day).

The method comes from an article by Dr. Andrew Davis, called "An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture." The article has lots of helpful content, and it outlines a simple, clear way of memorizing long passages. It totally works. Here are the basics:

Day 1:

  • Read the verse 10 times out loud.
  • Cover the page and recite it 10 times out loud. "Cheat" if you have to!

Day 2:

  • Review yesterday's verse first. Recite it 10 times out loud, peeking if you need to. (The out loud part is important--it really makes a difference!)
  • Then move on to the next verse. Read it 10 times out loud, then recite it 10 times out loud.

Day 3 (and following):

  • Yesterday's verse first--recite it 10 times (again, look if you need help).
  • Recite all the verses you know, one time through.
  • Move on to the next verse. Read 10 times, recite 10 times.

Davis stresses including the verse numbers, but like many others, I don't do these. I know what chapter it's in, and approximately where, and that's good enough for me; I'd rather not have the numbers interrupting the flow of the passage. For more explanation and tips, read the full article.

It may sound like a lot, but it really only takes a few minutes. It's effective because you're repeating what you know every day, which helps it to stick. And once you're all done with the passage, you cement it in your brain long-term by repeating it once a day for 100 days. That may seem daunting, but think about it: Doing so doesn't take any time out of your busy day at all, because you don't have to look at your Bible. You can recite the passage while you're doing dishes, or taking a shower, or driving to work.

I'm sold on memorization now. Deliberately hiding God's Word in my heart has been a really meaningful practice for me, so I've continued with other passages. I'll admit that some have stuck more solidly than others; I haven't always followed through with the 100 days of reinforcement. But I'm still convinced that this method works better than anything else I've tried. Romans 8 still comes to mind every now and then, so I go through it. That keeps it fresh, and of course has the benefit of bringing my focus back to God and His truth during the mundane moments of the day.

Got any other memorization tips to share? I'd love to hear them in the comments. Ann Kroeker has also posted a collection of resources and suggestions in today's progress report. As for my own memorization work this month, so far so good. Like I anticipated, Milton Vincent is a lot easier to memorize than Paul!


Anonymous said...

though I didn't commit to the official MMM, I do want to be more diligent with memorization of scripture this year. I'm working through Piper's fighter verses with the kids. I am so glad for some practical help for memorizing. thanks for posting it.

R.M. Jackson said...

I memorised Romans 8 for the last MMM, but I wrote out the verses using the initial letters only, and practised associating the words with the 'prompts', then repeating the passage while looking at the prompts. Over time, I didn't need the prompts.

I then added THIS AUDIO, and tried saying the verses (without the prompts) along with the narrator.

I have been using the 'prompterizing' method for a while now and I have not found anything that has worked better for me, to date.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this refresher, Amy. I'm memorizing by this method too. Although I'm having a hard time and feeling discouraged because I got behind already this weekend while we were away in Va. But I know the purpose is to hide God's Word in my heart, not get it all done by the end of the month.

Amy said...

hang in there, Danielle! it definitely took me longer than a month to memorize Romans 8.