Spiritual Discipline: Memorizing Scripture

You can put God’s Word in your backpack, on your phone, and on your computer, but the best place to keep God’s Word is in your heart. God can bring it to mind at any time to help and encourage you. This month, AMY KEYS will give you some great tips on memorizing Scripture. Read on for more!

STEP 1 > Set a goal.

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. There are several ways to memorize Scripture, but you’ve got to choose one and make specific, realistic goals for yourself. Check out the “Fast Facts” box below for some Scripture ­memory methods.

STEP 2 > Write it down.

Make a list of the passages or verses you want to memorize. Break them down into manageable goals, such as learning one new verse each week. Review your goals often and stay on track. If you fall behind, adjust your goals. Whatever you do, don’t give up!

STEP 3 > Put it up.

Keep the verses you’re memorizing in front of you. Make them the wallpaper on your phone, write them on your mirror with a dry erase marker, or put them up in your locker. Every time you look at the verses, quote them. Say them over and over. Repeat them more times than you think you need to, so that you firmly imprint God’s Word in your heart.

STEP 4> Review.

Have you ever studied for a test, aced it, then found yourself unable to recall the information a week later? Memorizing Scripture can be like that, too. After you’ve memorized a verse or passage, it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind, or you’re likely to forget it.
Some people use a file system to help them review the verses they’ve memorized. Review a few verses a day until you get all the way through the file or list, then start over.

STEP 5 > Set up accountability.

You will be more successful if you have a friend or parent willing to hold you accountable or memorize Scripture alongside of you. It will be so rewarding to quote God’s Word to each other and share about the amazing ways He has spoken to you through His Word as you’ve put it to memory.

Tips for how to memorize Scripture

Chunk by Chunk
Some people like to learn God’s Word a chapter at a time. The Psalms are fun to memorize in their entirety, as is the Book of John. Choose a chapter, or book of Scripture, then break it down into specific goals until you’ve memorized it all.

By Subject
Perhaps you find yourself having to defend your faith on the spot, or maybe you want to learn the Romans Road so you can recall Scriptures while sharing Christ. Use a concordance to look up verses on your subject, then memorize them one at a time.

Verse by Verse
If you find yourself paraphrasing Scripture all the time, make a list of verses you tend to paraphrase, then find the actual verses using a concordance or by typing in keywords at

Bible Study
Take the key verse(s) from your Sunday School or Bible study session each week and memorize them. This is also a great way to continue to think about what you learned in class!

This article was written for the December 2011 issue of essential connection by Amy Keys. You can read Amy’s thoughts on spiritual disciplines each month in “Directions” on page 49 of the print issue. Get your subscription here: .

Lost in the story: The editor’s thoughts on the December 2011 issue

Last winter, I read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in its entirety. After the busyness of work, the rush of a post-work workout, the bustle of making dinner or meeting up with friends, I’d settle into a comfortable chair with my dog by my side, open up the book, and sneak away to Narnia. I became a character in the stories. I felt the sea on my face as I sailed on the Dawn Treader with my friends, the Pevensie children. I listened for Aslan’s roar. I fought for truth and honor, slipped through wardrobes into magical lands, and clung to the back of a horse, escaping Tashbaan under the cover of darkness.

I had become one of the characters in the story. I was as important and integral to the plot as Lucy, Peter, Eustace, and even Reepicheep. The thing you need to realize about the books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia is that every book is really telling one story, Aslan’s story. Throughout the novels, Aslan uses a variety of characters to tell his tale, but in the end, it is his story that I love. And I love it because somehow, in the telling, I have become one of the characters.

But there’s another story that captures my attention like no other: God’s story of redemption. The story of a God who loved the people He had created so much that in order to save them from their sin, He sent His one and Only Son into the world. And that Son, both Man and God, took on flesh and dwelt among us, sharing in our joy, laughter, sorrow, and sadness. He taught the world a new way to live, and then, in a shocking and hurtful plot twist, He was crucified, willingly laying down His own sinless life so that our sin could be defeated. Three days later, He rose from the grave. Sin and death had both suffered a resounding defeat!

I still get lost in the Story, God’s gospel story, even though I’ve heard it a million times. And that’s my prayer for you this Christmas season: that you get lost in the Story of God’s good news. That you let it overwhelm and wreck you. That you let it sink into the hardest parts of your heart and change your life.

And most of all, I pray that you realize that God is still writing His story—and that you are one of the principal characters. God called together an unlikely cast of characters that first Christmas, a motley crew through which He intended His plan of grace and redemption to unfold. And as Carol Sallee points out in this month’s cover story on page 30, He still wants to use you to do the same. He still wants to call people into His story—and you have a role and a purpose.

The gospel, God’s Story, changes things. It transforms us and calls us to live differently. You’ll find that truth repeated again and again in this month’s issue of essential connection. It’s in the cover story, woven throughout the devotions, and in Emily Cole’s story of following God’s call to law school, even if it didn’t seem to make much sense at the time (p. 56). God writes good stories—and you are one of His favorite characters. Let Him write the story of your life!

Complaining, Complaining, Complaining…

Confession: I’m a complainer.

Yes, me. I complain when I’m cold, and then again when I’m hot. I complain when I make a lower grade than I expected, or when I have too much homework. I complain when I don’t have enough time to get things done, but then also when I have too much time on my hands.

Get the picture? I’m willing to guess that I’m not alone in this confession!

By now, you’ve probably read the devotion for today, and Numbers 20:1-5…and guess who the focus is on? If you guessed the grumbling Israelites, then you’re right. The Israelites are still in the desert, and they are thirsty and hungry. So, what do they do? They go to Moses, and they complain. For a split second, you may almost think that they have a right to complain. After all, they’ve been wandering in the hot desert, and they have no water or food.

But they were wrong! Yes, at that moment in time, they had physical needs. We all need water and food. However, the Israelites had already forgotten that God had been providing for their needs, and would continue to do so. He brought them out of Egypt when they were facing oppression, and then provided manna when they were hungry. Despite their resistance to God, He continued over and over again to provide for them, and show them grace.

I think the same is true for us today. If you’re like me, you complain…a lot. I’m not always good at being a “glass half-full”type of person. It’s then that I remember how much God has done for me, and how much He has provided for me.

Philippians 4:18-19 tells us, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

If we’re always complaining, we forget about all the times God has supplied for us. This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, thank God for all the things He has blessed you with, and the ways He has provided for you!

Spiritual Discipline: Fasting

Why would anyone turn down a perfectly good meal? Fasting, or willingly depriving yourself of something—usually food—for a spiritual reason, is a powerful discipline with tremendous results. This month, let AMY KEYS help you learn more about this spiritual discipline. Check out the “Road Map” for more!

{ How to Fast }

Step 1 > Determine why you want to fast.

You might want a closer relationship with God, or you might be struggling to figure out what He wants you to do. The point? The purpose of fasting is to heighten your focus on God. Your cravings are a constant reminder to bring your requests before God.

Step 2 > Decide how long the fast will last.
Some people fast from just one meal; others fast for a day or an entire week. You might fast regularly, or you might only do it when you’re really struggling and desperate for a specific answer. If you’ve never fasted before, start small, like skipping supper, so you can spend that time in prayer.

Step 3 > Choose what you will fast from.

A lot of people fast from food, but you might choose to fast from Facebook, TV, eating out, coffee, soda, or from something else. Choose something you will actually miss, so you will constantly be reminded to turn your attention back to God.

Step 4 > Focus your cravings and energy on God.

When you give up something that’s important to you, you miss it. You’ll find yourself reaching for the fridge without thinking or scrolling over to Facebook without even realizing it. When you get that craving, consider it a reminder to focus on God instead. What does this focusing on God look like? Check out the “Fast Facts” box below for more information.,

Step 5 > Watch for results!

When you give something up to focus on God, your relationship with Him will grow. You will hear Him more clearly, desire Him more intently, and connect with Him more deeply. Fasting isn’t a magic formula to get everything you want, but when you make God the most important thing in your life, changes will happen, and it is absolutely worth it!

{ More Tips }

If you can, separate yourself from others during the meals you’re skipping. This is a specific time that you can set aside to focus on God instead of eating. Find a place where you can pray and listen to God uninterrupted.

Look up verses that speak directly about the  situation you’re praying about. Read these verses. Think about them. Journal about them. Give them time to sink deep into your heart.

Tell God exactly how you feel. If you’re starving, admit it! Then, ask Him to give you an even greater hunger for Him. Spend time focusing on Him and His greatness, then spill out your deepest requests. Pour out your heart the way you would to your best friend.

You’re not looking for direction if you do all the talking. Take a few moments to let everything else go. Be silent before God and listen. If you find that difficult, ask Him to help you. Then, when He does speak, write it down!

Who are you worshiping?

Stop for a second and come up with five popular reality television shows.

Which ones did you think of? If you’re like me, you’ve probably listed shows like American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, and The X Factor. These shows seek out to find the best dancer, greatest singer, or funniest person. And it’s not just television—there are magazines devoted to documenting celebrities’ every move. We can find out what Brad Pitt ate for lunch, and they may even show a picture of him with lettuce in his teeth.

The media today brings up an interesting question—who are we worshiping? Think about how you spend your leisure time. Are you channel surfing, flipping through gossip magazines, or writing “Mrs. Beiber” numerous times on your notebook? When these things (among other activities) distract you from worshiping your Heavenly Father, then they have become an idol in your life.

God was pretty clear when He instructed Moses to write the Ten Commandments in Exodus. The first two commandments say not to have any other gods besides Him, and not to make any idols for yourself. Those two were the first for a reason—God is jealous for our worship and affections. He doesn’t want you to worship the latest American Idol winner or award-winning actor. He wants you to worship Him.

Reflect today on what you give your time and thoughts to. Are you reflecting on the greatness and glory of God, or are you more concerned with who got voted off last night’s talent show?

God sent His son to die for you—you were bought at a very high price. Worship Him. Set Him on the pedestal. Give Him the glory, honor and praise that He rightfully desires and deserves.

ec’s Prayer Challenge 11/2

It’s the last day of ec‘s one-week prayer challenge. How did it go? Do you think you’ll be setting aside a particular time each day to pray in the future? Let us know what you think in the comments!

If you’re struggling to figure out where to start today’s prayer time, we have a couple of ideas:

  • In your prayer time, also PRAISE God! Praise Him for everything He is doing in your life—the big things and the little things!
  • Music can be an incredible tool when we are talking to God. What are some songs of worship that make you hunger for God? After you pray today, listen to or sing on of those songs, and worship Him.

If you want more information on ec‘s Prayer Challenge, check out the 10/27 devotion on pages 46-47 of the October issue or watch



ec’s Prayer Challenge 11/1

It’s Day 6 of ec‘s one-week prayer challenge! What has God done in your lives because of this dedication to prayer? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re having a little trouble figuring out how to pray today, think about this:

Do you express yourself better through writing? Get a notebook or journal, and try writing out your prayers to God. Be open and honest—though reverent—and talk freely to God through writing. (If you’ve noticed, we encourage prayer journaling a lot in ec‘s devotions. That because journaling has been such a valuable part of our faith journeys!) 

Want to know more about ec’s one-week prayer challenge? Check out the 10/27 devotion on page 46-47 of the October issue or watch

ec’s Prayer Challenge 10/31

This week, ec‘s readers have been praying every day at 3 p.m. We can’t wait to hear what God has been doing in your lives because of this devoted prayer time! (So tell us in the comments!)

If you need some help starting your prayer time (remember, we’re just asking your for 5-10 minutes!), here’s an idea:

Pray for your pastor and ministry leaders. Your student pastor, small group leaders, and senior pastors need your prayers each day. Pray that God strengthens them, encourages them, and guides them in leadership of their ministries.

If you need more information on ec‘s prayer challenge, check out the 10/27 devotion on page 47 of the October issue or watch this video:

ec’s Prayer Challenge 10/30

We’ve challenged ec‘s readers to join us in praying at 3 p.m. every day this week. Are you ready to join us?

It’s 3 p.m., so set aside 5-10 minutes and devote them solely to prayer. You can pray on your own, with your family, or with friends.

If you need a little help getting started, try this:

The Five Finger Prayer

Thumb: Your thumb is nearest to you, so begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.

Pointing Finger: The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who heal, teach, and instruct. This includes doctors, teachers, and ministers. They need wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.

Tallest Finger: The next is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president and leaders in business and industry. These people shape our nation. They need God’s guidance.

Ring Finger: The fourth is the ring finger, and this is our weakest finger. It reminds us to pray for the weak, those in trouble or in pain. You cannot pray enough for them.

Smallest Finger: And last comes our little finger, the smallest of them all. This is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others.

If you want more information about our prayer challenge, check out the October issue of the magazine or this video:

ec’s Prayer Challenge 10/29

Join us and our readers in prayer every day at 3 p.m. for one week.

“With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with all boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”—Ephesians 6:18-20

Let that Scripture guide the way you pray today.

Pray with perseverance, praying again for someone or something you’ve been praying about for a long time. Express your belief that God is at work in that situation.

Intercede for people. Pray for others. Pray for your friends, your parents, for missionaries, for that child you sponsor in another country, for the kid who just doesn’t fit in at school. Pray for people you know who don’t know Christ.

Pray for the leaders of your church who are proclaiming the gospel. Pray for missionaries you know. Pray for missionaries you don’t know. Pray that today, all over the world, the gospel would be made known to people who need to hear it.

Pray for boldness. Pray that you would be bold enough to live according to God’s standards and share the gospel with those around you.


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