Memorizing James

Last Sunday morning, as we began a new sermon series at First Baptist Moss Bluff on the Book of James, I encouraged each of our church members to begin to memorize the book. 

I am excited about the response to this challenge so far.  A number of people have told me that they have started memorizing James, and I have seen others post on Facebook and indicate in other ways that they are doing the same thing.  Whether you are a member of FBC Moss Bluff or not, I would encourage you to join us, and hide this powerful portion of God’s word in your heart.  You will not regret it!

As encouraging as the response has been, many confess to having difficulty memorizing scripture.  While all of us do not have the same gift for memorizing, we can all make an effort.  Let me offer a few “helpful hints” for memorizing James, or any larger portion of scripture:

  • Read the passage repeatedly, out loud.  Your mind processes those words as you read them, directs your voice as you read out loud, and then assimilates them as you hear yourself speak them.  Repeating that process often will ingrain those words into your memory. 
  • I just read James 1 onto a “voice memo” on my iPhone today, so that I can take it with me wherever I go and listen to it.  I have found in the past that hearing something in my own voice is especially helpful in memorization, as I am learning the passage with my own particular intonations and verbal inflections. 
  • Write the passage repeatedly.  Again, going through the process of writing ingrains the words into your mind.
  • Take one of those written copies with you, and glance at it from time to time.  I have memorized many a chapter of scripture by keeping a written copy of it on a page of paper in my pocket, and pulling it out to look at it repeatedly through the day. 
  • If you need to, get an accountability partner.  Many people are greatly helped by having someone to hold them accountable.  Set up a time to meet every week, and share what you have each been able to do during the previous week.  If you know you will be sharing your progress with someone, you are more likely to stay at the task.
  • Review, review, review!  I can’t emphasize this enough.  People memorize a lot of things which they subsequently forget because they do not review them.  You may memorize James 1:1-3 today, but if you don’t review it every day, you will almost certainly have forgotten it by next week.  Especially in the early days of memorizing a large passage of scripture, you need to review it constantly.

Finally, let me emphasize that “victory” in this case is not necessarily defined by how much of the book of James you memorize.  Sure we may all want to memorize the whole book, and I hope each of us does.  But what if you “only” memorize the first chapter?  That would be a great blessing for many of us.  What if you only memorized the first verse?  That would be one more verse than many of us had memorized previously!  Just take it in “bite-sized” chunks and see how far God gives you the grace to go. 

     I spoke with a group of ladies today, who expressed skepticism about their ability to memorize James.  I told them I knew it was harder for some of us than others.  But then I said: “What is the name of this book?”  “James”, one of them responded.  “THERE”, I said, “Now you have the first word already memorized!  If anyone asks you, you can tell them you are working on the first verse, and already have the first word down pat!”  We all laughed, but hey, it’s a start!

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About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief daily devotions from own personal Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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