Easter by Heart

How to Memorize the Gospel Stories of the Resurrection

Learn the Resurrection This Easter

You can remember the actual words of the Gospel stories of the Resurrection.

This year, enter into Easter like never before. Learn the Resurrection from John by heart.

Every day, you'll learn one new verse. Many books offer a daily verse to think about, but with this book, you'll remember what you read long after you close the book. Learning these stories, verse by verse, will lift your thoughts to a new level. As you renew these stories, you'll find new meanings and images in the familiar words.

Think you have a bad memory? Impossible! You've just proven that your memory is excellent. (Read why below.) This book will show you how to use your memory in new ways.

But don't worry, you won't need crazy memory tricks. Instead, you'll learn how to make the Bible come alive through expression, your imagination, and even rhythm. With simple techniques like these, you'll make these stories part of you.

You can only think with what you remember. This Easter, learn to remember more than you ever imagined.

Sample Chapters

In this book,
   you will learn

the Resurrection of Christ,
   from the Gospel of John,
     by heart.

You will hear and feel the rhythms,
   imagine the scenes,
     and renew your memories.

By the end of the Easter season,
     you'll know these words by heart.

But your memories of the Resurrection
   will have only begun.

This Easter Season, Learn the Resurrection

Easter: Where Christ Gets Interesting

How long do you celebrate Easter? A day? A morning? Did you know you're supposed to get a full fifty days? The Easter season lasts for seven weeks!

By contrast, Lent only lasts for forty days. Yet hordes of Christians struggle and groan through six weeks of Lent, shout with relief on Easter Sunday, and then ... forget the whole thing before they finish the Easter candy.

It's like we scrimp and save to buy a red Mercedes, then let it rot in the garage after a single joyride. Easter is a season, not a single day of egg hunting and festive hats.

Let's face it. This whole crazy Christianity thing hinges precisely on whether one particular man did or did not have the power to come back to life.

Modern culture has gravitated toward Christmas, the other end of his life. Christmas does turn the world on its head, as the omnipotent Creator becomes an impotent newborn, hiding in a cave. But we already love babies and birthdays.

Funerals? Not so much. Even the Crucifixion doesn't quite change our view of funerals. Good people get slaughtered every day.

But Easter turns every funeral you've ever seen inside out and upside down. Easter makes the personal implications suddenly get interesting.

Change the World. Party This Easter.

How did our cultural conversation about Christianity ever degrade into catfights about sexual ethics? I don't think this would happen if we actually celebrated Easter. What if every spring, millions and millions of people openly partied for weeks because a dead guy broke out of his grave, and they fully expected to see him again, and also, oh, that's right, live forever?

Everything would change.

Everything can change. What's our problem? Either we don't really believe in life after death, or ... we just don't think about it much.

It would be easy to veer off into a depressing appraisal of our collective faith, hope, courage, trust, and other forms of love. But that's not what I'm here for. I want to help you grab the low-hanging fruit.

Celebrate Easter by Learning the Story

Action follows thought. Before we assume our hearts are stone cold, let's try thinking. You need to sow seeds of thought if you want to reap joy. And you can only think with what you remember.

This Easter season, this book will show you how to learn the actual words of the story of the Resurrection by heart. If you learn just one new verse each day, you'll know the entire Resurrection story from John by Pentecost.

During the Easter season, you can learn one verse each day from the last two chapters of the Gospel of John. By Pentecost, you'll know the entire Resurrection of Our Lord by heart.

The math is almost perfect. There are 50 days from Easter to Pentecost, and 51 verses in the Resurrection chapters of John.

Built-in Daily Time With Christ

Learning these verses will automatically help you think new thoughts and actually celebrate that God plans for you to live forever.

All kinds of prayers have spiritual value. But it's a special experience to say the words of the Bible, to tell those stories. You can think about what you're saying, and you're always saying something new.

Also, you'll say these words every day. That's part of learning by heart. Don't panic! This daily repetition doesn't take long, and it doesn't last forever. In fact, these daily recitations become built-in daily meditation time.

Learning the Easter verses isn't just a goal. The actual process of daily renewal and thought becomes a way to celebrate the season.

All the Details You've Been Missing

As you learn the Easter stories of John, and perhaps in future years the Easter stories from the other Gospels, you'll be surprised at all the details. There's much more to the story than the empty tomb.

Those few weeks after Christ's Resurrection are so mysterious. He keeps surprising them, following some plan that's never explained. When the women get to the tomb, he's already gone. Why? Why deputize an angel? We don't know. We just know the details. That's what happened.

But then he meets Mary Magdalen anyway -- and she doesn't recognize him. And then, instead of going straight to the cowering apostles, he takes a long walk towards Emmaus with two second-tier disciples, one of whom isn't even named. (Note: I love the Emmaus story, but it's not in John, only in Luke.) He sets their hearts on fire, vanishes, and then, after they run all the way back to the upper room, he disdains the locked door and appears.

Even then, he doesn't stay. It's unclear how often they see him over the next few weeks. Finally, what does Peter do? He goes fishing. It's so realistic it hurts. Has he hit rock bottom, reverting to his old job, as if nothing had happened? Or is this just how he passes the time, waiting for the Paraclete? We don't know. But that's the detail.

And though I love the idea of learning all the last precious words of Christ in these final chapters, my favorite moment may well be right here. Jesus fills their nets to bursting, one last time. Peter swims to shore, and he finds that his crucified and risen Lord, who made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk, who cleansed lepers and bound devils and made corpses sing again, who has conquered death and will shortly fly to the clouds to take the throne of the universe ... he's just made breakfast.

It makes me want to cry. Who would have dreamed a God like this?

And how do we keep losing him? How do our mental images keep blurring and shifting and melting, until words like God and Jesus and Christ conjure only pathetic flickers of boredom or guilt?

The details await us. We can draw the crisp lines of clear, true mental pictures. Phrase by phrase, scene by scene, we can weave the real, living Christ into our thoughts. This Easter season, we can bring Christ to life.

How This Book Will Help You Learn the Resurrection This Easter

This book includes two major aids to learning the Resurrection this Easter, plus a bonus feature.

First, you get the verses of John 20 and 21, typeset as rhythmic stories. Although you could learn the verses from any Bible, this book uses a visually memorable layout. Instead of blocks of prose, you see these words with rhythms that move like poetry. This gives each verse a more unique look, and also helps you speak and hear the verses with rhythm. They become much easier to remember.

Second, you get the Books by Heart™ lessons. These lessons will show you, step-by-step, how to remember a long text like John 20 and 21. These lessons form the core of this book. They've also appeared in other books in the series, such as Lent by Heart and Christmas by Heart.

The bulk of these lessons are the same in every book in this series, because all these books focus on memorizing the same kinds of texts. But in each book, I adapt certain examples and discussions for the particular text we're learning. In this book, we'll focus on the Resurrection narrative from John.

You can read the whole book at once, but the lessons are also designed so that you can read one lesson a day. You start learning one new verse a day right away, and the lessons gradually tell you what you need to know as the days pass.

As a bonus feature, I've also included rhythmic verses for the Resurrection stories from the other Gospels, as well as the Pentecost story from Luke.

If you'd rather learn a different Resurrection narrative this Easter, you can make that choice.

Or, for future Easters in the years to come, you can use this book again to learn other Resurrection narratives. You'll find these stories at the back of the book.

I use the Douay-Rheims Challoner version for the all the Scripture in this book. This old translation will probably remind you of the famous King James version. Although the DRC presents some challenges, it also has features that make it a great choice for memorizing. I explain these features in a later chapter.

Let's begin with a slow, thoughtful reading of John 20 and 21.

The Story of the Resurrection from John

Here are the fifty-one verses you'll learn this Easter. They tell the story of Christ's Resurrection, from the twentieth and twenty-first chapters of the Gospel of John.

You'll be coming back here every day, so while you're here, bookmark this page. Keep one bookmark here, at the beginning, and move another bookmark forward each day to your new verse.

For now, as you read these stories for the first time, don't think about memorizing. Just read. Many words and phrases will be familiar, but expect to be surprised.

A Note for Ebook Readers

A core tenet of this memory approach is that verses should be read like poetry. As with poetry, the correct line breaks are critical to understanding the rhythm.

If you're reading this book on a small screen, the lines may be too long for the screen. They'll wrap around and look broken. If these verses look broken on your screen, please take a moment to adjust your reader so that they look like normal poetry. You can try turning the screen sideways, or choosing a smaller font size.

John 20 Resurrection

Easter morning

John 20:1

Mary Magdalen comes to the sepulchre

AND on the first day
   of the week,
Mary Magdalen cometh early,
   when it was yet dark,
     unto the sepulchre;
and she saw the stone
   taken away from the sepulchre.

She ran, therefore,
   and cometh to Simon Peter,
and to the other disciple
   whom Jesus loved,
     and saith to them:
They have taken away the Lord
   out of the sepulchre,
and we know not where
   they have laid him.

Peter and John come to the sepulchre

Peter therefore went out,
   and that other disciple,
     and they came to the sepulchre.

And they both ran together,
   and that other disciple did outrun Peter,
     and came first to the sepulchre.

And when he stooped down,
   he saw the linen cloths lying;
     but yet he went not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter,
   following him,
and went into the sepulchre,
   and saw the linen cloths lying,

And the napkin
   that had been about his head,
not lying with the linen cloths,
   but apart,
     wrapped up into one place.

Then that other disciple
   also went in,
who came first
   to the sepulchre:
and he saw,
   and believed.

For as yet they knew not
   the scripture,
that he must rise again
   from the dead.

The disciples therefore departed again
   to their home.

Mary Magdalen meets the Risen Jesus

But Mary stood at the sepulchre without,
   weeping.
Now as she was weeping,
   she stooped down,
     and looked into the sepulchre,

And she saw two angels in white,
   sitting,
one at the head,
   and one at the feet,
where the body of Jesus
   had been laid.

They say to her:
   Woman,
     why weepest thou?
She saith to them:
   Because they have taken away
     my Lord;
and I know not where
   they have laid him.

When she had thus said,
   she turned herself back,
and saw Jesus standing;
   and she knew not
     that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith to her:
   Woman,
     why weepest thou?
       whom seekest thou?
She,
   thinking it was the gardener,
     saith to him:
Sir,
   if thou hast taken him hence,
tell me where thou hast laid him,
   and I will take him away.

Jesus saith to her:
   Mary.
She turning,
   saith to him:
Rabboni
   (which is to say,
     Master).

Jesus saith to her:
   Do not touch me,
for I am not yet ascended
   to my Father.
But go to my brethren,
   and say to them:
I ascend to my Father
   and to your Father,
to my God
   and your God.

Mary Magdalen cometh,
   and telleth the disciples:
I have seen the Lord,
   and these things he said to me.

The risen Christ comes to the disciples

John 20:19

Jesus comes to the disciples in the Upper Room

Now when it was late that same day,
   the first of the week,
and the doors were shut,
   where the disciples were gathered together,
     for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in the midst,
   and said to them:
     Peace be to you.

And when he had said this,
   he shewed them his hands
     and his side.
The disciples therefore were glad,
   when they saw the Lord.

He said therefore to them again:
   Peace be to you.
As the Father hath sent me,
   I also send you.

When he had said this,
   he breathed on them;
and he said to them:
   Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

Whose sins you shall forgive,
   they are forgiven them;
and whose sins you shall retain,
   they are retained.

Thomas meets the Risen Jesus

Now Thomas,
   one of the twelve,
     who is called Didymus,
was not with them
   when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore
   said to him:
     We have seen the Lord.
But he said to them:
   Except I shall see in his hands
     the print of the nails,
and put my finger
   into the place of the nails,
and put my hand
   into his side,
     I will not believe.

And after eight days again
   his disciples were within,
     and Thomas with them.
Jesus cometh,
   the doors being shut,
and stood in the midst,
   and said:
     Peace be to you.

Then he saith to Thomas:
   Put in thy finger hither,
     and see my hands;
and bring hither thy hand,
   and put it into my side;
and be not faithless,
   but believing.

Thomas answered,
   and said to him:
My Lord,
   and my God.

Jesus saith to him:
   Because thou hast seen me, Thomas,
     thou hast believed:
blessed are they
   that have not seen,
     and have believed.

Jesus is the Christ

Many other signs also did Jesus
   in the sight of his disciples,
     which are not written in this book.

But these are written,
   that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ,
   the Son of God:
and that believing,
   you may have life
     in his name.

John 21 After the Resurrection

Jesus at the sea of Tiberias

John 21:1

Simon goes fishing

AFTER this,
   Jesus shewed himself again
to the disciples
   at the sea of Tiberias.
And he shewed himself
   after this manner.

There were together
   Simon Peter,
and Thomas,
   who is called Didymus,
and Nathanael,
   who was of Cana of Galilee,
and the sons of Zebedee,
   and two others
     of his disciples.

Simon Peter saith to them:
   I go a fishing.
They say to him:
   We also come with thee.
And they went forth,
   and entered into the ship:
and that night
   they caught nothing.

Jesus sends them a huge catch of fish

But when the morning was come,
   Jesus stood on the shore:
yet the disciples knew not
   that it was Jesus.

Jesus therefore said to them:
   Children,
     have you any meat?
They answered him:
   No.

He saith to them:
   Cast the net
on the right side
   of the ship,
     and you shall find.
They cast therefore;
   and now they were not able to draw it,
     for the multitude of fishes.

That disciple therefore
   whom Jesus loved,
said to Peter:
   It is the Lord.
Simon Peter,
   when he heard that it was the Lord,
girt his coat about him,
   (for he was naked,)
     and cast himself into the sea.

But the other disciples
   came in the ship,
(for they were not far
   from the land,
but as it were
   two hundred cubits,)
dragging the net
   with fishes.

Jesus makes breakfast

As soon then
   as they came to land,
they saw hot coals lying,
   and a fish laid thereon,
     and bread.

Jesus saith to them:
   Bring hither of the fishes
     which you have now caught.

Simon Peter went up,
   and drew the net to land,
full of great fishes,
   one hundred and fifty-three.
And although there were so many,
   the net was not broken.

Jesus saith to them:
   Come,
     and dine.
And none of them who were at meat,
   durst ask him:
Who art thou?
   knowing that it was the Lord.

And Jesus cometh and taketh bread,
   and giveth them,
     and fish in like manner.

This is now the third time
   that Jesus was manifested
     to his disciples,
after he was risen
   from the dead.

Simon and John

John 21:15

"Simon son of John, lovest thou me?"

When therefore they had dined,
   Jesus saith to Simon Peter:
Simon son of John,
   lovest thou me
     more than these?
He saith to him:
   Yea, Lord,
     thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith to him:
   Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again:
   Simon, son of John,
     lovest thou me?
He saith to him:
   Yea, Lord,
     thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith to him:
   Feed my lambs.

He said to him the third time:
   Simon, son of John,
     lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved,
   because he had said to him
     the third time:
       Lovest thou me?
And he said to him:
   Lord, thou knowest all things:
     thou knowest that I love thee.
He said to him:
   Feed my sheep.

Amen, amen I say to thee,
   when thou wast younger,
thou didst gird thyself,
   and didst walk
     where thou wouldst.
But when thou shalt be old,
   thou shalt stretch forth thy hands,
and another shall gird thee,
   and lead thee whither
     thou wouldst not.

And this he said,
   signifying by what death
     he should glorify God.
And when he had said this,
   he saith to him:
     Follow me.

Will John die?

Peter turning about,
   saw that disciple whom Jesus loved
     following,
who also leaned
   on his breast at supper,
and said: Lord,
   who is he
     that shall betray thee?

Him therefore when Peter had seen,
   he saith to Jesus:
Lord,
   and what shall this man do?

Jesus saith to him:
   So I will have him
     to remain till I come,
what is it to thee?
   follow thou me.

This saying therefore went abroad
   among the brethren,
that that disciple
   should not die.
And Jesus did not say to him:
   He should not die;
     but,
So I will have him
   to remain till I come,
     what is it to thee?

The world could not contain the books

This is that disciple
   who giveth testimony of these things,
     and hath written these things;
and we know
   that his testimony is true.

But there are also many other things
   which Jesus did;
which,
   if they were written every one,
the world itself,
   I think,
would not be able to contain
   the books that should be written.

You're going to learn all that by heart. Let's get started!

Books by Heart: Resurrection

Now we begin the Books by Heart™ lessons, which will show you an easy method for learning these verses by heart.

You may have already read a similar version of these lessons in another book in this series, such as Lent by Heart or Christmas by Heart. However, if it's been awhile, you may want to read them again and refresh your memory. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I've adapted certain examples and discussions for John 20 and 21.

You don't have to read this whole book on Easter by Heart! Instead, you can do one lesson per day. Read the first lesson, say the first verse, and then it's up to you how quickly you read the other lessons.

Speaking Out the Verses

Every time you say a verse, you want to:

  • Speak out: Speak loudly and slowly, with rhythm and expression.
  • Take it in: As you speak, see the words as they are written, hear the words you say, and feel the rhythms and the shapes of the words on your tongue.
  • Experience: Let the words lead you to imagine the scene in this story.

Seem like a lot to remember? Don't worry, we'll be going over all this in detail. You'll always see critical points more than once.

In this first lesson, you'll learn how to speak out the Gospel. Speaking out is the crucial first step. You have to speak a verse before you can take it in and experience it.

Speak Out

You're used to reading silently. But in ancient times, they were used to reading out loud. Words were spoken. And the first step to learning these stories by heart is to read the verses out loud.

Read the verses out loud:

  • loudly and slowly
  • with rhythm and expression

Loudly

How loud? Loud enough to hear yourself.

Don't mumble. When you mumble, the words only happen inside your head.

You need to be loud enough to hear your own words, as if someone else were talking to you. Hearing the words will activate additional mental processes, and lead to stronger memories.

You always want to activate as many different kinds of learning as possible. Each kind of learning has its own set of mental connections. The more connections you make, the stronger your memories.

Slowly

Don't rush! When you're first learning new verses, speak slowly. Not painfully slow, but a little slower than you usually talk.

In normal speech, we slur past common words. Here, you want to pronounce every sound in every word.

Rhythm

The Bible has rhythm! Unlocking these rhythms makes the verses both come alive and stay in your mind.

As I mentioned earlier, I've typeset these verses like a poem, instead of the usual prose paragraphs. Here's the first verse:

AND on the first day
   of the week,
Mary Magdalen cometh early,
   when it was yet dark,
     unto the sepulchre;
and she saw the stone
   taken away from the sepulchre.

You're looking at one of the best-kept secrets about the Bible. The Bible has rhythm.

Oral Culture

The Bible was written in an oral culture, a culture that largely depended on the spoken word. Human speech has a natural, loose rhythm. In an oral culture, speakers make these rhythms even stronger.

They organize their thoughts into words and phrases that play off each other, back and forth, rising and falling. Their audiences expect these rhythms, listen for them, and remember them.

In our culture, we associate rhythm with entertainment: nursery rhymes, popular music, rap. Advertising jingles.

Our serious work avoids rhythms. Doctors don't want to sound like Dr. Seuss.

But oral cultures depend on spoken rhythm for serious work. Jesus preached in rhythm. The Gospel writers composed with rhythm.

Free the "Verses" Back Into a "Poem"

You want to speak these verses with rhythm.

Almost every Bible translation imprisons these verses into long, solid columns of compressed text. But why do we call them verses? Don't verses mean a poem?

Poems never translate well. Most rhythm, like rhyme, is lost in translation. But if we listen to our Bible translations, especially an older translation, we can still find the back-and-forth rhythm of the phrases.

The first modern scholar I know of to unlock these Bible rhythms was Marcel Jousse, a French priest in the early twentieth century. In 1925, his book The Oral Style revealed that beneath the prose of the Gospels, even in translation, the phrases rise and fall with strong rhythms.

Back and Forth Rhythms

Let's look again at our first verse, John 20:1. Normally, that verse would look like this:

AND on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

But I've freed these words into a more natural, back-and-forth rhythm:

AND on the first day
   of the week,
Mary Magdalen cometh early,
   when it was yet dark,
     unto the sepulchre;
and she saw the stone
   taken away from the sepulchre.

Do you hear how the phrases interlock? One phrase rises, creating tension. The next phrase falls, resolving the tension.

and she saw the stone ... taken away from the sepulchre

Where did she see the stone? Taken away from the sepulchre

This rise and fall, question and answer, is much stronger in some places than others. But even the more prosaic sentences can be broken into short phrases and spoken with rhythm.

Speak With Rhythm

Every verse in this book has been set with rhythm. As you read, use the layout to help you see and speak these rhythms. You'll usually see couplets and triplets.

The first line of this couplet rises, creating tension,
   The second line falls and resolves the tension.
  
The first line of this triplet rises, creating tension,
   The middle line begins to fall,
     But only the last line resolves the tension.

Sometimes, you'll see a set of four lines. I'm not sure Jousse would approve of this. He only talked about groups of twos and threes. But sometimes, it seems to me that a line really "introduces" a triplet:

And someone says, in a rising tone,
   "I'm saying something that rises even further,"
     And only now does the tension begin to fall,
       And this fourth line completes it.

You May Find Better Rhythms

So what rules have I used to break up these verses into groups? Here's my secret method: whatever sounds good.

There isn't any secret method. If you find a better rhythm for a cluster of verses, change it! And let me know! (bill@howtoremember.biz) I'd love to improve future editions.

Skip the Verse Numbers and Headings

You'll notice that, just now, when I showed you the rhythmic verse, I didn't include the verse numbers or any headings, such as "Mary Magdalen comes to the sepulchre". Although that information is helpful, I do not think you should memorize it. For me, it's enough to know which book and chapter I'm memorizing from.

As you saw when you read John 20 and 21 earlier, I do include headings and some verse numbers in the full selection. But I don't suggest memorizing them.

If you wanted to know the chapter and verse, the best way would be to say "John, chapter twenty, verse one" before that verse. But even if you shortened this to "John twenty one," it would sound ridiculous, like a computer printout. It would disrupt the story, and kill the rhythm.

Expression (These Words Are Alive)

At first, speaking the Bible with rhythm may seem unnatural. Even disrespectful.

Why? Because we in the English-speaking world have this bizarre tradition of the reverential monotone.

Ditch the "Reverential Monotone"

Think about church. Unless you're very lucky, your lector "proclaims" the readings with less expression than your GPS. You'd get more drama from R2D2.

Somehow, we've gotten the idea that the Bible needs a special voice: a dead monotone.

But what's so reverent about a monotone? These words are alive, and so are you. A Bible is just a sacred suitcase to carry those words from Christ to you.

Sadly, the words had to have all the expression and intonation hacked off so they'd fit in the suitcase. Your job is to unpack them, and try to get them back to normal.

The monotone is not normal. The monotone is dead. When our cultural air is thick with the conviction that the Bible is a dead old distant book with nothing to offer, a monotone is the worst possible choice.

The monotone is also the worst possible choice for remembering.

Let the Words Live

Freeing the rhythms helps the words live. But you want to go even farther. You want to tell the story.

Think about telling a story to a friend. Or reading a story to a child. The expression comes naturally. It flows from what's happening in the story.

Tell the story. Expression will come naturally.

Now Speak Your Verse

That's all you need to get started! This has been a long first lesson, but don't worry. Soon you'll be focused on learning verses, not learning how to learn them.

Read the verses out loud:

  • loudly and slowly
  • with rhythm and expression

Throughout the rest of the day (or tomorrow, if it's already bedtime), read the first verse out loud again every few hours. Don't worry about memorizing it yet. Focus on speaking it well.

Your Memorizing Plan

Now that you know how to speak out a verse, let's back up and look at our overall plan for memorizing. Many people offer different methods for memorizing Scripture. I want you to understand why my Books by Heart approach is simple, easy, and natural.

A Daily Verse

The core idea is simple: every day, you learn one new verse, and repeat the verses you've already learned.

Learning one new verse every day, and renewing what you've learned, doesn't take long. We're talking fifteen minutes or so, spread throughout the day.

It may not seem like much. But this small effort gives you powerful leverage. The words of the Gospel are potent. They're like strong magnets, attracting thoughts and feelings that would otherwise rush by. Bit by bit, you will think differently.

Besides, the verses add up fast. By Pentecost, you'll know John's whole story of the Resurrection, from Mary Magdalen coming to the tomb to Christ's final words to Peter by the sea of Tiberias.

Why Only One Verse a Day?

You may assume that memorizing is difficult. Or, you may be surprised that you're only learning one verse a day. Can't you do more?

Eventually, yes. But if this is your first time, you're training a new skill. Your mind is extremely susceptible to the patterns you set right from the beginning. If you tried to start out memorizing two or five or ten verses a day, you would inevitably start to rush, and then feel burdened and overwhelmed. The whole experience would sour.

Instead, focus on getting this one verse right. It's like push-ups. Ten push-ups with correct form will do much more for your body than twenty sloppy attempts.

Also, memorizing requires review. By only adding one new verse a day, your daily renewal won't take too long.

When you complete this project, if you want to learn more, you can try learning two new verses a day for a month. And then three. And so on.

But for now, stick to one. Master the art.

Why You Can Memorize

Maybe you're wondering whether you can really memorize even one new verse a day. Perhaps you're constantly reminded of your "bad memory" as your car keys vanish and critical mail evaporates.

Guess what? I promise that your memory is excellent. How do I know? Because you can read.

Think about it. If your memory were actually broken, would you be decoding these squiggles into words, linking them to sounds, snapping them into phrases and sentences, making the impossible leap into kaleidoscopes of meaning --- all at hundreds of words per minute?

I don't care if you take reading for granted. I don't care how they graded you in school. You can read. Your memory is amazing. Period.

Whatever "memory" problems you have are due to technique and habit. These are precisely the skills you'll learn to improve in this book.

Even the most amazing tool will fail if you don't know how to use it. You're going to learn how to remember these verses.

Your Daily Routine

You'll only need to spend about fifteen minutes a day on this project.

Even better, you'll spread this time in bits throughout the day. Every day, you will:

  • Repeat the verses you've already learned, all together, as a series of stories.
  • Learn your new verse.
  • Throughout the day, repeat your new verse three or four times.
  • If you're having trouble with any older verses, repeat these too. You'll be surprised at how easily you can fit these short reviews into the crevices of your day.
  • At the end of the day, repeat all your verses again once, including your new verse.

You might prefer to learn new material at the end of the day, sleep on it, then review throughout the next day. That's fine.

This daily routine is the core of learning by heart.

If you miss a day, pick up where you left off.

We'll explore this routine in more detail later. This is all you need to get started.

Stories, Not Memory Tricks

I keep saying "verses", but the Gospels are a series of stories. Stories are much easier to think about and remember than individual verses.

If you've used other memory books, you know there's a wide variety of memory tricks out there. I've tried most of them. Sadly, much of this advice actually makes memorizing verses more difficult.

If this book saves you from even one standard mistake, it will pay for itself many times over.

For instance, have you heard about "mnemonics" or "memory palaces"? Some books suggest using these visual memory tricks for anything you want to learn, but I disagree.

For this project, you don't need any wacky memory tricks. You won't need to imagine any crazy pictures or funky memory sentences.

Instead, you'll learn how to make the verses themselves a memorable experience. You'll unlock their power with rhythm, expression, and imagination.

Mnemonics aren't inherently harmful. If you want to memorize your credit card number, mnemonics work great. But they're not the right tool for memorizing texts. I'll explain why further on.

For now, let's move to the next step in memorizing. As you speak a verse out, you also take the verse in.

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