In 2010, I began the practice of choosing 1 passage for the year and studying it in-depth for personal and spiritual growth. This has easily been one of the most transformative practices I’ve adopted. It’s helped my Bible-memorization, study habits, and ability to think Biblically about real-life situations. Below is a behind the scenes look at the practice, as well as a guide for you to begin it as well!

What Is A Verse For The Year And What Do You Do With It?

First of all, it’s exactly what it sounds like. I choose (typically) 8-15 verses, and dedicate the next year to a deeper study of that particular passage. Here are the sections of Scripture I focused on since 2010: 

How I approach the verse is broken down into three sections of the year. The first third is very simple. It’s primarily spent writing the verse, memorizing it, and spending time thinking about it. I always begin the new year with writing the chosen passage by hand (either in a journal or notebook). Writing by hand commits the words to your memory like nothing else. This starts the process of the verse becoming a part of you.

The second third of the year is spent for deeper study. This is when I will get my hands on anywhere from 10-20 books on the specific passage. These could be topical books, commentaries, encyclopedias, and more. My goal during this time is to dispel my preconceptions and learn as much as possible about the language, context, history, and meaning.

The reason I wait before beginning deeper study is because I don’t want other voices to cloud out what God might be trying to teach me at first. I believe each time I choose a verse, it’s because God has led me to it for a specific reason. My first duty, then, is to listen to what He has to say about it to me – through prayer and life circumstances.

After the deeper study has been completed (not that study of the Bible is ever really complete!), the last third of the year is spent reflecting on the passage. I try to apply what I have learned. This is also when a lot of my writing on the passage pours out. After I’ve had 6-8 months to ponder on it, my mind is overflowing with ideas I want to communicate to others. This stage is one of the most enjoyable and the most practical. It’s when the rubber meets the road, if you will.

I focus on making the passage an integral part of who I am all the way into the month of December. About two weeks into that month, I let go of the passage and begin to pray and search for what the next one will be. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

Jan – April: Write verse out by hand, Memorize, Contemplate
May – August: Read, Research, Study
September – December: Apply, Write what you’ve learned, Share, Meditate

Why Choose A Verse For The Year?

Studying the Bible can be overwhelming at times. There’s literally hundreds of reading plans you could choose from, thousands of commentaries to dive in, and an unlimited number of questions to ask. Choosing one small passage enables you to cut out the overwhelm and focus.

I am always thankful at the end of each year for adopting this practice. Taking an entire 12 months to dissect and marinate in a passage is quite literally life-giving. By taking such a small chunk, you’re able to truly make it a part of who you are. I still recite the verse I chose for 2010 randomly. It’s not just something I learned. Instead, it’s something God used to change me. He graphed it onto my heart and mind. It’s as much a part of me as my hands or feet are now.

I can’t encourage you enough to try this. You’ll be so thankful you did.

How To Choose A Verse For The Year?

This process is going to look a little different for each person, because how you make decisions is likely different than I do. But I still want to offer you a useful framework – one that should set you on the right track for choosing a verse for the year. And of course, feel free to modify any way you like!

  1. Pray, asking God to guide you, give you eyes to see and ears to hear what He might be trying to show you
  2. Observe your life: are there any major transitions you might be going into (or just came out of), is there a goal you’ve been working towards or answer from God you’ve been waiting for?
  3. Write down 5-10 concepts (words or phrases) that relate to where God might be leading you
    1. Examples of what I used before settling on Matthew 7:7-11: questions, curiosity, asking, God has answers, correct desires, God’s will versus what we want
  4. Pray and decide on 1 concept
  5. Find at least 12 verses/passages related to the concept (using simple tools like or software like logos)
  6. Choose the one that sticks out to you most
    1. Make sure its unfamiliar in some way (Old or New Testament)
  7. Carve out the section that applies directly to the concept you want to know more about (I recommend keeping it under 10 verses, but more than 3)
  8. Pray one more time asking God to open you up to His Word, and to open His Word up to you over this next year

There you have it, my explanation and framework for making the verse for the year practice your own! I want to encourage you that you can begin this practice at any time (even if the year is already half way over!). Simply take the three main parts (memorization, research, application) and shrink it down to fit into whatever time you have left. It’ll give you a little practice as you lead up into trying it out for an entire year.

Thank you for reading this. If you’ve chosen a verse for the year, please write it in the comments below (and share why you chose it if you’re comfortable doing so).


This post is related to the Facebook Live lesson I gave here: Link to video lesson