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Part 3: The four best ways to memorize anything

Time Posted on September 27, 2010 User River La Belle Comment 17 comments

Well, the four best ways not including Memverse. :)

Ok, here is the last part of this series. Pray over these applications and apply them to your life as much as time will allow. . . . and more!! You will grow so much in your Christian walk with God, and we all know how absolutely wonderful that is. . .

Store your memories in the time of your youth.––”Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.” (Eccles. 12:1). Right now, your memories are fresh and strong; later, as some can testify, they will be shattered with cares and business. A new ship, or any vessel that is new, is free from leaks; but time and travel will batter it. So will it be with you; care will batter you, grief will batter you: and therefore now store yourselves. Take heed: a dozen chapters, a good catechism, a collection of useful texts and doctrines, will take no room, nor make you live the heavier, nor sleep the worse. And therefore it concerns parents, both to have such things in their hearts, and to teach them diligently to their children. (Deut. 6:7). Perhaps they may not understand the sense of them at the present; but these will be ready in their minds till grace and understanding come, and then they will help them exceedingly; as we lay some sticks or kindling ready in the chimney, which, when fire comes, signify something.

Writing what we would remember is a merciful help to the memory.––Socrates, indeed, held that letters proved the ruin of the memory, because, before the invention of letters, people committed worthy matters to memory, but afterward to books [or blogs :P ]; but certainly both memory and books are little enough to preserve those things that should be remembered. The Holy Spirit teaches better: “You shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and on your gates.” (Deut. 11:20). Yea, the king himself was to “write for himself in a book a copy of this law,” that he might remember it the better! (Deut. 17:18). The very writing of anything fixes it deeper in the mind. And therefore I should still recommend the writing of sermon-notes, not only as a help to memory, but also as a good preservative from sleeping under God’s ordinance, as also from gazing about, to the great distraction of the thoughts at that sacred employment. For, alas, how many excellent doctrines, directions, and marks have you heard, that are quite forgotten, which a discreet use of writing might have preserved unto you! 

Prayer is a second help.––For “every good gift and every perfect gift,” whereof this is one, “is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17); and therefore is to be sought by frequent and earnest prayer, which is the golden key to unlock the treasures of heaven to the needy soul. O, beg it, then, of Him, that as he sanctifies the soul, he would sanctify this with the rest. And you have a ground for your prayer in John 14:26, where our Savior has said, that “the Father will send the Holy Ghost, to teach us all things, and to bring all things to our remembrance.” And this Spirit you may have for the asking: “your Heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” (Luke 11:13). Understand, that God will grant your prayer herein, there being joined with the same a due use of all other means, on which earnest prayer brings a blessing. And you must not only crave this in your solemn prayers; but also, when you are reading or hearing, you should dart up a quick prayer, “Lord, write this truth in my heart, and bless it to me!” This is like the clinching of a nail. And when you have heard a sermon, lock the chest with David’s prayer: “O Lord, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people.” (1 Chron. 29:18). Be assured that God will hear the breathings of his own Spirit, and give thee a memory to serve your turn.

Serious meditation is the last help I shall mention.–– [I know this next sentence is definitely the case with me!!] When people read or hear, and presently plunge themselves in foreign business, then generally all is lost: “For he looks at himself, and goes away, and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into” (the word signifies “to penetrate into a thing with his eye”) “the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres,” that is, considering what he has heard, “being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:24-25). By which is not meant a speculative and fruitless meditation, but that which is practical; that is, which digests the things we read or hear for use or practice: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). Here is a truth, or a duty, or a promise, for such a time or case. Such rolling of good things in our thoughts doth habituate and familiarize them to the soul, and they abide the longer. This is clear in other cases: for, if one has received an injurious or unkind word, if it go out at one ear as it came in at the other, it leaves no great impression; but if you set yourself to ruminate upon it, and to aggravate it, then it is a long time before you forget it. And so in some measure it would be in good things: give them a little heart-room, bestow some second thoughts upon them, shut the book when you have read a little, and think of it; and it will abide. It is the soaking rain that enters deepest into the earth, when a sudden shower slides away. But herein our ordinary hearers are strangely negligent: they read, they hear, they forget; for they never think nor meditate of it. They turn down leaves in their Bibles in the congregation, but they seldom turn them up again in reflecting upon what they heard; and so their labor is lost, and ours. 

But I conclude. It is worth observing, that holy David, among all the rest of his blessed psalms, has one (which is the thirty-eighth psalm) which he styles, “A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.” His memory, it seems, had need of help, as well as ours.



EDIT: After a few comments, I've decided to add these: reciting out loud, and writing out what you are memorizing, are also very good ways to memorize anything. Courtesy of Andy. . . Read the comments to find out more.


EDIT: I've written another blog post that goes very well with this one, called Getting to Know You: How do you Memorize? There are a lot of great techniques mentioned in the comments, that you should definitely check out.

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