See the Verse Clearly

You can mentally "photograph" the verses you want to learn by heart.

So far, in this Books by Heart series on how to remember verses, you’ve learned how to speak the verses out:

Today, you’ll begin to learn how to take the verses in as you speak them.

When you take verses in, you:

  • See the words and phrases

  • Hear the words and phrases

  • Feel the rhythms

  • Feel the shapes of the words on your tongue

Let’s start with seeing.

See the Words

The first step to taking in a verse is to see the words. This seems obvious. But when I say see, I mean intense attention.

How many words have you read and understood today? Thousands, probably. But how have you seen them? Right now, close your eyes, count to ten, and try to call up images of these pages.

What did you see? Anything? At best, you probably got a fleeting glimpse or two.

Does this mean you have a “bad” memory? No. Your mind did exactly what you’ve trained it to do.

It slurped the meaning from the words as quickly as possible. Why didn’t you keep mental snapshots of every page? For the same reason you didn’t keep the can the last time you opened some tuna. You didn’t need to.

But now you do. Now, you are going to train your mind to take mental snapshots of each verse.

That may sound impossible. But think of all the pristine mental images you can call up. (Corporate logo trivia, anyone?) Learning to capture verses simply takes practice and good technique.

“Photographing” Each Verse

  • Intend to see perfectly. Tell yourself that you can and will remember this verse exactly as you see it on the page or screen.

  • Look with intense attention. Normally, your gaze races down sentences. Instead, look as if you were looking at painting. You’re looking at these words as a unique visual image, not mere symbols.

  • Focus on details. Don’t try to “photograph” the entire verse at once. Look at it phrase by phrase. Notice the font, the spacing, the place on the page. All these little details seem to come together in our minds like the tiles of a mosaic.

  • As you try to recall the verse later, refresh your memory as needed. Look at the verse again, and fill in the gaps.

Over your first few recitations, you’ll remember some bits, but not others. Make the effort to remember. But if you don’t get it after a few seconds, look at the book. There’s no point in waiting. Get those missing mosaic tiles. Your goal is an effortless memory.

True, if you check too quickly, you may train yourself to always need the book. You may even trick yourself into thinking you can’t memorize at all. But this is a balance you’ll have to work out for yourself. Even if you only remember one or two more words each time, you’re moving in the right direction.

Be patient with yourself. This may be a brand new skill for you. If you have to keep checking, don’t worry. Gradually, you’ll learn how to see clearly.

The Context of the Story

As we work through a text, I show you one verse for each day. However, you will probably get better results if you don’t try to memorize the verse all alone.

Instead, learn each verse in its place in the full story.

Seeing the verse as part of the story, rather than alone on a screen, puts the verse into context. As you read and reread each verse, this unique context will help you remember.

View all the verses you’ve learned so far in the current Books by Heart project.