How to Memorize After Age 50

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

Kimberley Payne
Jun 15 · 5 min read
Photo by Joe Caione via unsplash

When the small group Bible teacher told the class that we would be working towards memorizing the whole book of James, I nearly quit the group right then.

Granted, the book of James is only five chapters long and not too theologically challenging, I felt fear well up inside of me at the prospect of having to memorize something and failing dismally.

As a teenager, I admired those theatre arts students who could get on stage and perform a play like Romeo and Juliet without missing a line. My own mother was a member of Theatre 80 and she performed on stage for thousands of kids. Oh, how I wanted to be able to do the same.

Personal photo of my mom playing Hansel in “Hansel & Gretel”

But in my 50th year, my desire to memorize scripture overruled my fear of not being able to and so I committed to try and make it work.

I realized that I had already memorized the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 as a child.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

In school, we recited this prayer before singing the national anthem every day before class started. And at dinner time, my father would say the beginning of the prayer and the family would join in halfway through. I continued this tradition with my own children but we said the whole prayer together as a family.

I also had already memorized Psalm 118:24 as I took up a challenge years ago to start my day on a positive note by saying this prayer as soon as I woke up:

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

There are other simple verses that are posted around my home on magnets and wall hangings including For Where your Treasure is, There your Heart will be Also (Matthew 6:21), The Lord is Near to all who Call upon Him (Psalm 145:15) and As for me and this house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Personal photo of fridge magnets with scripture

So, I thought I could tackle a longer verse. The first scripture verse I chose to memorize was Ephesians 6:13:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then,

with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I work in a secular environment (a college) and feel as if I am in a daily battle to keep my Christian values so it was recommended to me to pray this scripture before I go to work. I wrote it out on a little card and put it in my car.

Then each morning I would read it aloud as my vehicle warmed up. As I read the scripture, I physically touched each area and imagined a shield and sword in my hands. It’s a daily reminder that I need God’s help and protection.

Personal photo of the 3 scripture verses I memorized

The next verse that I purposely wanted to memorize was my life verse Philippians 4:6–7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When I first gave my heart to Jesus I truly felt peace and joy from this scripture. So I thought it would be a good one to try to memorize. Each morning, I read that verse after saying the one above. I don’t know how long it took me to actually memorize the verse without looking at the card but I was thrilled when I realized I didn't need to anymore.

After memorizing this one, I decided to try another. I chose the very next verse in scripture (Phil 4:8).

Personally, I want to stop my “stinkin’ thinking” and shine Christ’s light in my home, neighbourhood, and workplace. This verse is a daily reminder to only think about these things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,

whatever is noble,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable —

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —

think about such things.

As I sat in my car, I picked an object to look at to remind me of the character trait: a tree for true, the rock beside it for noble, all the way to the other side of my house for right, the hanging lamp for pure, the sky for lovely, the neighbour’s home for admirable and back to my car for excellent and praiseworthy. Now even if I’m not in my car, I can see each item in my mind’s eye.

I repeat each of these scriptures every morning when I get in my car. Now that I have them memorized I plan to add another one.

The only problem I have now is trying to pick the next one!


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Kimberley Payne

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Author. Jesus Lover. Oma. Exercise & healthy eating are to the body what prayer & Bible study are to the spirit. https://www.kimberleypayne.com/free-programs

Koinonia

Koinonia

Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.