Memorizing James

Most nights I spend some time with my three sons reading the Bible and praying together. We have done this ever since they were toddlers, and they are now ages 15, 13 and 10. We usually pick a book of the Bible and read it through a section at a time, and then discuss any questions on it. Right now we are reading through the book of Job.

We tried something different this past spring and took a couple months to memorize a chapter of the Bible together instead. We chose James chapter 1. We took it one verse at a time, memorizing the verse and then discussing it together. The next night we would review the verses we had learned and then learn a new verse. If we had been really disciplined at it, I guess we would have finished in 27 days, seeing as there are only 27 verses in James 1. But between nights missed and extra review nights thrown in, it took us a couple months.

The important thing is we kept at it, and all three boys eventually were able to recite James chapter 1 from memory. We also talked about the importance of meditating or reflecting on God’s Word throughout the day. This is really the whole reason to memorize Scripture anyways — that we might store it up in our minds and our hearts and allow God to change us by his Word.

The method we used for memorizing is called the “stacking” method. This is the method taught by Janet Pope in her excellent book, His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God. You can read more about the stacking method at Lifehack, or you can read John Place’s story of how he used the stacking method to memorize 7 chapters of his psychology textbook, over 23,000 words, when he was in college. Andrew Davis also gives a good explanation and guide in his article: An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.

People are using the stacking method to memorize all sorts of things. What could be more important than memorizing God’s Word and treasuring it in our hearts?

Update: Later we went back and re-memorized this chapter using the first-letter method. Actually, the stacking method and first-letter method work really well together. You can learn more about the first letter method in The Bible Memory Version: A Tool for Treasuring God’s Word in Your Heart.


  1. Sharon Gamble says:

    Ray – I love reading about parents spending time with their children on the things that matter!! During my girls’ high school years, they told me they did not want me praying with them because I “lectured” them in my prayers and they did not want a Bible Study with me. However, as young adults, they are now dear friends and I am currently in a book study with each of them and we love praying together. It is never too late to develop this kind of wonderful Bible or Christian book study with your kids! These are the things we do that make eternal differences. Keep at it!

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