Tuesday, February 3, 2009

9 months... memorizing the entire Book of James

So I had a conversation with my pastor the other day (Pastor James Brummett) regarding strategies of Bible verse memorization. He said that he has started memorizing chapters in Psalms and has really been blessed by it. He suggested that I try the same with the Book of James. I was pretty nervous about the endeavor at first, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got!

As I said, it seems pretty overwhelming to memorize an entire book of the Bible, so I tried to break it down. The Book of James has 5 chapters with a total of 108 verses. I figure if I memorize about 3 verses per week that I can memorize the entire book in about 9 months. All of the sudden, this doesn't seem so bad. I remember back in High School when I was part of discipleship, we would memorize 3 passages per week of 1-5 verses each... So 2-5 verses per week will be cake!

I am planning on memorizing the book using the NIV version.

My memorization strategy has several methods behind it. First, instead of just memorizing precisely 3 verses per week, I am breaking the verses into logical chunks. The result is that some weeks there will be more to memorize than others. The benefit is that it's a lot easier to memorize verses if you understand the major theme behind them, as well as being able to put these verses in context.

Also, I have formatted (or rather am in the process of formatting) these verses in such a way that I can print them onto perforated business card stock for easy dispensing and reading. If you are interested in using these documents (formatted using Microsoft Word), let me know, and I’ll send them your way… I may also post a link to them once I have finished them.

Next, I will follow a flexible, but useful daily plan, to help me stay on track and fully absorb these verses I am trying to memorize.

I plan on spending the first day (Monday's) immersing myself in the memorization of the verses. Reading the verse over and over, both out loud and in my head, until I am familiar with the content. Also, I will write it down several times so that I interact with the verse using multiple parts of my brain. Start saying the verse without looking. And finally commit the verse to memory so that I am able to say it comfortably without the need of an aid. It seems reasonable, considering we are only talking about 2-5 verses per week, to be able to commit the verses at least to short term memory in a matter of 1 day. I will continue to practice these verses throughout the week.

On day two (Tuesday), I plan to break the verses down and start thinking about what James and God are actually saying. Analyze and contemplate why he uses certain words and what the deeper meanings might be, and how these verses can apply to my life. I’ll be using a website called http://www.bibleshared.com/ to write down my personal notes about these verses and how they apply to my life. The great thing about this site is that it allows you to store and share notes about the Bible. You can create a group or multiple groups where each person in the group can store their thoughts about these verses. It’s a great way to encourage, challenge, and corroborate with each other about these verses.

On day three and four (Wednesday & Thursday), I plan to break each verse down and do some deep study into what the verses really mean. If we can understand the meaning behind the verses, it will be a LOT easier to remember what the verses actually are. I plan uses tools like http://biblestudy.crosswalk.com/ (they have many commentaries and concordances available all in one place) to examine the verses one or two at a time to gain a better understanding of what these verses really mean.

On day five (Friday), I plan to build a visual outline of these verses giving visual meaning and understanding to these verses. It may be that more than one week’s verses are compiled into a single visual outline. This outline will bring together the verses, my personal understanding, and the knowledge of others into a single perspective, possibly along with images, diagrams, and anything else that will bring a clearer understanding to the meaning of these verses. The end result will be a full understanding and outline of the entire book of James, broken down into meaningful segments.

On day six (Saturday), once I have a solid understanding of what God is trying to tell me through these verses, I plan on praying these scriptures over the lives of my family, friends, ministry and myself, to continue to meditate on them, and to find ways to constructively apply these verses to the various areas of my life.

Finally, on day seven (Sunday), I plan on sharing my newly memorized verses with others, along with whatever I have learned over the past week. Also, I will review verses from previous weeks so that I don’t “loose” the information I have spent time memorizing.

Studies have shown that by engaging multiple parts of your brain in these exercises, more of your brain is utilized in the memorization process. So I fully intend on using the visual, auditory, cognitive, emotional, and creative parts of my brain in this process. By mixing together these various techniques together, over the course of the week, I hope to speed up the process of moving memorized chunks of scripture to my long term memory.

Finally, I plan to surround myself with as many people as I can who are willing to take on this challenge with me (I already have 11 who are onboard). This way we can hold each other accountable, encourage each other in the process, and share knowledge and insight we learn as we travel this journey together.

I am going to start this journey right away (well, I actually have the first 4 verses memorized), and I’ll try to post the verses and insights each week as they come.


Anonymous said...

How is it going? Our pastor just started teaching (expository preaching) from the Book of James. I would personally like to memorize as much as I possibly can. Would love your memory verse cards you mentioned.

Jacob Fogg said...

I made it through Chapter 1 and started into chapter 2... then we had a baby =)

I am getting ready to revisit my efforts now that things are finally settling down again!

My suggestion to you is to really get some people around you who will commit to the same thing! Without constant support and encouragement, I found it hard to stay focused. Give it a go, you will not regret it!!!

darci said...

Would you be willing to share the files of the cards you made up? I am hoping to memorize James with my kids, and would love any resouces to help me print cards / organize for each family member. Thanks, darci