MEMORIZATION – GENERAL TIPS
HAVE FAITH! – My husband and I will never move again! I just don’t have the mental energy to memorize a new address!! This should encourage you. I have managed to memorize a good number of psalms. If I can, anyone can!
USE WHATEVER WORKS – There are many webpages, articles and books that offer tips for memorizing. Out of ALL the tips offered, you will learn what works best for you. Use those techniques first.
TIME IS YOUR FRIEND – Rome was not built in a day. You have a lifetime ahead of you. You are not required to memorize every psalm before you stand before God. This is for you. It is for your pleasure, enjoyment and reward. Relax. Take your time. Enjoy!
TIPS – MEMORIZING A PSALM
STICK TO THE SCRIPT
Keep the psalm in your hands and refer to it often. It is your script. If you say the same line of words over and over again, you are teaching your brain one line. If you put the script away and just make it up – sort of – changing a few words each time…you are giving your brain many different lines to remember. Your brain will be more successful if you give it the same line every time. It is not cheating to look at the script…the psalm. If you are not sure what comes next, look to the psalm and read it exactly as written.
FIVE SENSES – Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell
You know yourself. Which of the five senses do you most use? These may help you in memorization. But don’t forget the others…they can be powerful tools you have not yet explored. (See Memorization Exercise below for Psalm 121.)
You know yourself. One of our pastors memorized the entire Sermon on the Mount, and dressed in the robe of a disciple, he delivered it for one Sunday’s message. He never missed a word. I still can’t believe it, and I was there to see it. Choose a goal that will let you succeed. Few people would be able to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. If you can memorize even one line of any psalm…that is wonderful. Go for it and cheer when you have it committed to memory.
START WITH THE HEART
If it touches your heart, it will find a path to your mind. I have always loved Psalm 23. Typically, for memorizing, I would choose the shortest psalm. But I chose to start with Psalm 23 because I love it so. I couldn’t wait for the day when, leaving my Bible closed on the table, I could recite it on my own. That was truly a day to celebrate!
AFTER THE HEART…GO FOR THE SHORT
It may not be the shortest psalm…but…it is short. And I memorized it. It was another chance to celebrate…to build my confidence. And, now that it is memorized, I use Psalm 100 to regularly sing praise and thanksgiving to a wonderful God who has so richly blessed us!
REPETITION IS A FRIEND
Literally…repetition is a friend! Again…together now…repetition is a friend. When you say things over and over and over again…you are making an electronic pathway in your brain. I have phone numbers I cannot remember…until…I put my fingers on my phone and “see” the fingers tap out the numbers in a visual pattern I remember. Psalms are songs. If you read a verse aloud, repeating it over and over again…your hearing helps your brain catch the words. You will one day catch yourself in mid-sentence…something isn’t right…the rhythm of the line just “sounds off.” A word is wrong. You will hear it, even if you aren’t sure how to fix it.
TELL A STORY
Psalms were often written in response to a major life event – responding to a life story. Whether the psalmist was letting loose emotionally, pleading to God, or shaking his fist at Satan…the psalmist was inside the story of his life. What was the story? Where did it take place? What happened, and what emotions were let loose? If you can picture what happened, you can sing the song that comes from that picture. Psalms are not just words on a page. They are songs of the heart.
Entertainers don’t remember their songs unless they rehearse their songs…and often. Once you have memorized a psalm, make a plan to return to the psalm and enjoy saying it just as you would sing an old favorite song from your childhood. Make a plan for rehearsing. Pick one psalm for the month, and “sing” the psalm each morning for the month before you begin your day.
WHAT TIP CAN YOU ADD TO THOSE YOU HAVE ALREADY TRIED?
I cannot explain it. Sometimes there are lines or even single words that I simply cannot remember. In several hard cases, I opened the Bible and stared at the word on the page…staring and seeing the word on the page. Later, reciting the psalm, I would close my eyes and the word would pop out of the psalm on the page right where it was the last time I saw it. I cannot explain it…the visual memory of single words. Be sensitive to your mind. Try new things.
REMEMBER THE SCRIPT
Even after you have mastered a psalm and repeated it one hundred times flawlessly…there may come a day…when…you cannot remember the next verse. Don’t make it up. Don’t despair. Keep the psalm at your side and refer to it. It is your script. Remember the script.
LET’S PRACTICE TOGETHER
Read the psalm. Why did the psalmist write it? What was he feeling? Where did those feelings come from? Read the psalm again. If you were feeling as the psalmist felt, where would you be? What would you be looking at?
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.
PSALM 121 – WHAT DO YOU SEE?
v. 1 I see myself alone in the hills. on my knees. I am looking up to mountains…high and far away.
I life up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
v. 2 The hills are so high that they reach into the heavens. They touch the throne of God. That is where I need to look for my help.
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
v. 3-4 The trail on the mountain that leads up to the clouds is treacherous. Rocks are everywhere; I look up and stumble over the slippery rocks. I am afraid to look down. One misstep, and I may fall to my death. I need to be certain He is watching over me…every step…please don’t let Him slumber…or sleep.
He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
v. 5-6 The rocks are gone. I know the Lord. He is trustworthy. I can trust Him to watch over me. He will keep me on the smooth path. He will keep my every step. On the long journey, He will give me rest in the shade.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
v. 7 The Lord is stronger than any challenge that comes against me…even Satan…the Evil One. The Lord will keep me safe…He will keep my life.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
v. 8 I can trust the Lord…forever. He watches me go out…and He stays to watch me return…to come in. He is here today…from now…and forever. The Lord is my Keeper. Trust in the Lord…who made heaven and earth. Up the mountain and back down again…the Lord is my Keeper. Thank you, Lord.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.
What story can you make…what pictures can you use…to memorize Psalm 121?
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Other Memorization Tips