Bible memorization, particularly in preparation for persecution


(Josiah) #1

So seeing the news coming out of early rain covenant Church in China has been equal parts inspiring and infuriating. One of the things it has got me thinking about is memorizing books or portions of Scripture, particularly for having access to it when you don’t have access to the text. One of the church Members there mentioned that he recited Philippians while incarcerated, and since I had previously memorized it, that encouraged me to go back and start work on re memorizing it. As far as it’s brevity and encouragement in the midst of persecution, it seems ideal for such a endeavor. If you had to choose, what portion of Scripture would you memorize for such a time? And why?


(Josiah) #2

Psalm 22 is one that I use frequently in jail, and I am just waiting for someone to make a version of it that is singable and sticks right to the text. I enjoy my soul among lions version of it though.


(Thomas Hext) #3

I’d have to say Psalm 51!

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Do you think there is a Bible translation that lends itself to the task of memorising?


(Joseph Bayly) #4

Having a bunch of Bibles is something we take for granted, so rarely do we consider what it would be like without one or what we would do. I remember in Warriors of Ethiopia a story of a local evangelist who had his Bible taken from him and destroyed for the third time (IIRC) when he was thrown in jail for preaching. His first task upon getting out was to try to track down another one, walking for several days and in desperation offering all the money he had to the missionary he found in exchange for a Bible.

Edited to add:
I don’t think that I’ve ever made it more than one chapter in a book. Even some short ones I tried to memorize.

I think the KJV might be the easiest because it’s poetic and because, being older English it’s not normal to our ears, so instead of struggling to remember what “normal” connecting phrase is used in a particular place, the odd language jumps out at you. (Unfortunately, that also makes it harder to understand and I don’t normally read it, so that militates against memorization. Pick your poison, I guess.)


(Josiah) #5

That’s another great one, that I also often use in jail. My parents had us memorize that back in the day. Most of my early memory work was in KJV. Pluses of that include no copyright, availability, length of unchanged use, quality of memorable phrases, thees and thous, and cultural familiarity. Minuses of course involve reading comprehension, thees and thous, textual issues, and such. I have found the king James to have an edge and memorizing due to the striking nature of its language. I tend to memorize in the NKJV because it does a minorly better job at some of the negatives while retaining a lot of the positives. ESV is a close 3rd for me, because of its common availability. But it has its own issues. My jail issues Gideon Bibles, which are primarily KJV or a modified ESV, and there is a fair number of NKJV floating around from before they yanked the copyright from the gideons.


(Joseph Bayly) #6

A local KJV-only church here in town has a large printing ministry—several large presses, big warehouse, etc. They provided KJV Bibles to the jail for free, but I found that whenever I read from it, none of the men understood a word of what I was reading. I had to summarize/paraphrase every single verse. I’m very grateful that the head chaplain eventually replaced the KJVs with some NIVs he’d been sitting on. Though I’d pick the KJV for myself 10 times out of 10 over the NIV, for the men in jail today, the NIV wins hands down. Though I do wish he had been sitting on ESVs.

Prior to the change men would often ask for a Bible that was easier to understand, but I didn’t have any ability to give them anything besides the KJV. Since the change, many more men come to chapel with a Bible.


(Kelly) #7

My first thought was 1 Peter, as was my husband’s. He also mentioned 1 Thessalonians and Hebrews (particularly from chapter ten on), the Sermon on the Mount, Luke 18…

I like the idea of memorizing specific passages or books, but also having read the stories enough times that you know, for instance, the gist of Elijah’s reaction to persecution, and God’s reaction to Elijah’s complaint. Also having the feel of the Psalms under your belt. That’s training ahead of time so you know how to encourage yourself and others, how to keep your attitude in line, and what to pray.


(Josiah) #8

Yes, my habit has been, more than memorizing per se lately, striving to read through the Bible at least once a year, hopefully more, studying passages to teach, and trying more and more to come at things with a whole Bible perspective.


(Nathan ) #9

The correct answer is the book of James.


(Alex McNeilly) #10

First thought was definitely 1 Peter. I think the theme of the entire book is suffering unjustly and how doing so unites us to Christ.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. ‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭4:12–16, NASB)

#2 for me would be the Sermon in the Mount, which is the largest section of Scripture I’ve ever had memorized at some point in my life.


(Thomas Hext) #11

Does anyone know of a good method for memorising? I’ve always been so bad at it! I’m trying to memorise the Ten Commandments right now.

@acmcneilly Good verse especially given the context of the OP.


(Kelly) #12

The Sound of Sanity guys did an episode on that a while back, and seemed to like the Verses app (and also maybe Scripture Typer).


(Thomas Hext) #13

Ok cool. Thanks for the tip!


(Kelly) #14

Sorry, I was only sort of awake before, and forgot to add:

I’ve tried both and like the UI and the methods of Verses better than ST.

BUT-- You can only get KJV on Verses, unless you want to pay (it’s the only public domain one).


(Jake) #15

The Verses app is pretty great for memorization imo, but like Kelly said it’s a couple dollars for a non-KJV version.


(Josiah) #16

I have had scripture typer for a bit, because it mirrors the way I used to memorize.
One of my early methods of book memorization that I found really helpful was to make a document that contained the scripture that I wanted to memorize, then intersperse pages that would have the first letter of every word, along with the punctutation. I had a Word macro that would do that for me (I need to find it, now that I think about it). So I had a transitional step between just the text and complete memory, by using the first letter of every word. Even though I started a lot more memory projects than I finished, having that transitional step helped me get a lot more familiar with the text anyways, even if I never completely memorized it. If anybody had a portion of Scripture they wanted me to send them a in a word document formatted like that, I’d be happy to. It was really helpful running around with it in my pocket, or on my kindle, so that it was ready to pull out and spend a few moments with periodically.


(Alex McNeilly) #17

One of the biggest things for me has been creating a separate printed-out document of whatever I’m working on memorizing. I like typesetting, so it’s fun to make it look nice, and print it on nice paper or something. But just having something that you can pull out by itself in the car or during a break is very helpful.