Many of us as Christians have heard of the concept, and even some of the benefits of memorizing Scripture, and yet very few of us actually do it. Why is that? Many reasons could be preposed, and the truth is there are probably as many reasons as there are people, so I don't think I need to list many out here, but I'm sure the main one that comes to mind right now is: WHO HAS THE TIME?!
Before I get to some practical ways to memorize Scripture, I think it's important for us to know why we are investing in doing it in the first place?
Some benefits of memorizing Scripture:
Memorization supplies spiritual power in your daily walk with the Lord (c.f. Ps 119:9-11; Mat 4:1-11)
It can strengthen a weak faith (c.f. Prov 22:17-19)
It can help prepare you for evangelism and effective discipling (c.f. Col 3:16; see how Christians utilized the word of God to witness in the book of Acts)
It can provide fuel for spiritual meditation
The first thing to practically memorizing Scripture is to be properly motivated to do so, and to believe that you can. Here are some practical ways to help you memorize:
You must have a plan!
In the beginning, any plan will do really ... the plan will inevitably evolve and shift to become more effective for you, but don't think you have to have everything lined up perfectly before you even begin! There are some great pre-packaged Scripture memory system out there to help you start such as the Topical Memory System
Write out the verses.
You can put them in your journal, or on index cards of whatever, just engage your mind by physically writing them out by hand (not just typing them into a computer)
You can draw picture reminders.
Anything to help your mind make connections to what you are memorizing. Even if they are just little stick figures or symbols it can be helpful for recalling them
Memorize word for word.
Pick a translation or version that you want to memorize in (most of my early Scripture memory happened in the current version of the NIV that was out at the time) and memorize it word for word. Obviously we know that no translation is perfectly translated word for word, but if you give yourself and out by just memorizing the "main idea" or something than you don't have an objective standard from which to gauge yourself and you are likely to just continue to lower the standard over time until you give up all together
Memorize the Scripture reference.
Again, no 'close enough's" here, correctly memorize the book, chapter, and verse (at least the book and chapter)
Have a method of accountability.
When I was working with a group of young single professional Christian men recently, I had Scripture memory homework for our training and discipling times together. We had to come prepared to recite our Scripture memory for that week and we all held each other accountable to it. Whatever your method of accountability (it doesn't even have to be with another Christian) just make sure that you have someone other than yourself helping you succeed (think of training in the gym with a partner vs. without one)
You can't really make progress in something you do seldomly. Set out to work on your memory Scriptures consistently, daily if you can, or at least start off with every weekday. Try rehearsing, repeating, and meditating on your memory verses as you go to sleep (this can be a great thing to do with your spouse as well), or as you drive in the car, or take a shower. There are ample opportunities of time that we actually have, but we simply don't utilized them well.
Remember that the goal of Scripture memorization, just like every other spiritual discipline, is to become more like Jesus and get closer to the Father, not to puff ourselves up (c.f. 1 Cor 8:1)