How John Piper Memorizes Scripture

John Piper is someone whom God has used to inspire this generation in a number of ways, one of which has been memorizing Scripture–long passages of Scripture.  So how does he do it?  In an audio interview, here is how John Piper answers that question:

(transcript)

First of all, by praying for discipline and setting aside time.

I set aside a block of time in the morning (an hour or so) to be with God alone, reading my Bible, praying for my family, praying for the church, and praying for my soul. And I can generally finish my four chapters or so of Bible reading in about 20 minutes, depending on how long I pause and contemplate. And my prayers may extend for 20 or 30 minutes. So I’ve got 5 or 10 minutes in that hour.

If you decide to memorize Scripture for 5 or 10 minutes a day, you can memorize a lot of Scripture! I mean, it’s incredible! And I put circles around the paragraphs or the verses, and I put a little “M” beside them if I worked on them so I can come back and review.

I got my help here from a little booklet about how to memorize long passages of Scripture. And basically he says to take your first verse, read it ten times, and then close your eyes or shut your Bible and say it ten times. And that’s the end for that day. (I think if you do that you can memorize almost any verse in the Bible: ten times read, ten times said, and then you’ve got it.)

Then you come back the next day. You open your Bible up, and you say that verse again 5 or 10 times. If it’s easy, just 5 times. And then you do the same thing with the next verse. And then you do them both together. And then you shut your Bible and you leave. Then you come back.

So basically, the answer is: repetition and review. Repetition and review.

Here’s one other little tip that I use. If I pick a verse or a couple of verses or a paragraph, I’ll put it on a piece of paper and I’ll carry it here in my shirt pocket. And at little times during the day, I’ll pull it out and read it for my soul. For my soul! I don’t memorize verses that don’t help my soul.

I’m not into mechanical memorizing. I’m into fighting the fight of faith. I want to memorize Scripture so that I can defeat the devil at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, that’s why! It’s so that I can minister to a saint in the hospital at 10 o’clock at night if I’ve forgotten my Bible. This is for our soul. So I carry it around and I review it. Review is so crucial.

So I would just encourage people to set aside 5 or 10 minutes, and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Read the verse 10 times, say it 10 times, close your Bible, and then review it during the day from a piece of paper.

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8 Comments on “How John Piper Memorizes Scripture”

  1. bucko158 Says:

    I think in memorizing Philippians the goal will be to think of ways to apply every verse in helping my soul and the souls of others, thanks for sharing.

  2. Debbye Says:

    Very helpful. I always seem to get stuck stumbling over the very first verse in a passage that I’m trying to memorize, yet the following verses flow easier. However, the first verse is always a giant hurdle for me. I’ll immediately try what Pastor John recommends. Thanks!

  3. ashleyfulton Says:

    Tim,

    I don’t know if you heard, but Piper lead the adult community group at Passion 2011 and spoke on this in more detail, alongside quoting the Sermon on the Mount and showing how memorizing chunks of Scripture reveals connections in the text he never would see otherwise. He said memorizing Scripture was the most valuable thing he’s done to lead as a pastor.


  4. […] should be a lot of small amounts of work. John Piper had a particularly useful post on the subject here. If anyone else wants to jump on the bible memory train, post in the comments and we’ll rock […]


  5. Repetition and review.

    This is the only way to roll.

    No matter how small or big the new passage I need to memorize, I begin my memorization time reciting what I already know. Keeps it fresh.

  6. Craig Says:

    First time ever memorizing Scripture. Powerful, new habit – will keep plugging away.

    Now here’s my thing – get ready to close your eyes – but this is super simple – I just put Bible on top of the toilet tank and every time…

    hey, whatever gets the job done…

    works for daily Bible reading too 🙂

    Just sayin’

    God Bless


  7. […] Likewise, I want to memorize Scripture not just to say that I’ve done it, but because I know that I can’t live without it (Matthew 4:4). John Piper underscores that point: I’m not into mechanical memorizing. I’m into fighting the fight of faith. I want to memorize Scripture so that I can defeat the devil at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, that’s why! It’s so that I can minister to a saint in the hospital at 10 o’clock at night if I’ve forgotten my Bible. This is for our soul.  (Read the rest.) […]

  8. Mindy Russo Says:

    Tim, I don’t know if you heard, but Piper lead the adult community group at Passion 2011 and spoke on this in more detail, alongside quoting the Sermon on the Mount and showing how memorizing chunks of Scripture reveals connections in the text he never would see otherwise. He said memorizing Scripture was the most valuable thing he’s done to lead as a pastor.


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