Scripture memorization is something I have done with my kids for as long as I can remember. It was something I did as a child with my parents. I was involved in Bible Drill at our church, where we had to memorize 25 verses, 10 key passages, and the plan of salvation each year. When my kids were old enough to talk, I knew I wanted them to commit many passages of scripture to their memory. I am going to share with you the 5 “W”‘s of scripture memorization – Who, What, When, Where, and Why – that work for our family.
This is an easy one – everyone should memorize scripture! As soon as your baby can talk, he can start repeating simple phrases after you such as “God is love”. They may not remember the scripture reference and the entire verse, but if you start early it will become a lifelong habit. With prompting, you can ask your baby or toddler, “Who made the world?” and they can answer, “God made the world.” As he grows, he can add to it where he eventually can recite Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly which passages you would like your children to memorize. After all there are thousands of verses in the Bible! We always start with the most well-known and often quoted verses – Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, Ephesians 6:1, Psalm 119:105. Once my children get a bit older and are capable of longer passages, we memorize several verses at a time like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 or Proverbs 3:5-6. Finally we move on to paragraphs and entire chapters. My now 14 year old son memorized Psalm 1 when we was around 8 years old. He can still quote the entire chapter. We have memorized Matthew 6:5-18 and John 1:1-18 and from time to time I will ask the kids to quote it for me.
Maybe your church has a program for children, like Bible Drill, where they give them a sheet of verses to memorize, or maybe your homeschool curriculum includes scripture memory. If not, you can always choose verses that are important to you or your family. Maybe there are some character or moral issues you are working on with your children and could find some applicable verses. You can find many good verses for children to memorize by using your search engine. It doesn’t really matter what you have your children memorize as long as they are hiding it in their hearts!
We usually work on scripture memory during our homeschool Bible time, first thing in the morning. We don’t take that long – maybe 10 minutes a day – but a little goes a long way! Try to find the time of day that works for your family. Perhaps it’s before bedtime or during your little one’s naptime. Maybe it’s while you’re cooking dinner or folding laundry. It doesn’t take long each day, like I said 10-15 minutes is a pretty good chunk of time to work on memorization. For really young children, it’s more like 3-5 minutes a day.
This is also an easy one – everywhere! Obviously, you’ll work on memorization at home, but what about in the car? When I was a child, my mom had a CD of Bible verses that were made into songs. My sisters and I loved that CD! We were memorizing scripture without even realizing it. I can still sing those songs, and when I hear certain scripture, that song will play in my head. Riding in the car is a great time to work on scripture memory because your kids are already still and unable to run off to play! There are lots of CD’s of scripture for children (although the CD my mom had was not children’s music, and we loved it).
You can print the verses you’re working on memorizing on index cards and put them on a metal ring. Slip it in your purse or backpack, and it becomes a portable scripture memory station! When you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, instead of handing your child your phone to play games on, work on the verses!
There are so many important reasons to memorize God’s Word! First, I always tell my children that Jesus knew scripture. He used scripture to say “no” to the devil’s tempting in the wilderness. Psalms 119:11 tells us, “I have hidden Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” Knowing what scripture says will help your child understand why he shouldn’t do something wrong. When your child is tempted to watch something evil on TV, they can remind themselves of Psalm 101:3, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” If they are tempted to tell a lie, they can remember that Colossians 3:9 says, “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.” It’s much harder to go ahead and sin after you’ve been reminded of why you shouldn’t!
If your children have memorized certain verses, you can ask them to recall them to you in specific instances. For example, if your child is being disobedient you can ask him to quote Ephesians 6:1 to you – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” This will remind him that God wants children to be obedient to their parents. Or if your child is anxious about something, ask them to quote Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
Also, I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “What goes in, must come out,” and this is so true in regards to our children! What are they putting in to their heads and hearts? Is it good or evil? Is it eternal or worldly? If they are putting God’s Word into their hearts, that is what will come out. Our children memorize so many things – lines to their favorite movies, lyrics to their favorite songs, the words to their favorite fairy tales, children’s rhymes and poems. We should endeavor to put God’s word in their hearts and minds first and foremost. There is truly nothing more edifying for your children than scripture and nothing more beautiful coming out of their mouth than the words of God. It is just as easy for your children to memorize scripture as is it anything else – it just takes a little work.
I’m adding a bonus in – the how’s of scripture memorization! There a lot of different ways to help your child memorize scripture, but I’m just going to share with you the super easy way that we do it in our house.
When we have a new verse to memorize, I will write it on our marker board. We will read it aloud together several times. Then I’ll say the first few words of the verse and have the kids repeat it back several times. We will keep adding portions of the verse and repeating them back. Then I’ll have them try to say it without looking. If the verse or passage is long, we work on a section at a time. We may take a whole week to memorize one or two verses!
We will also go around the table, each saying the next word in the verse. For example, I would say “in”, the next person would say “the”, the next would say “beginning” and so forth until the verse is complete. This really helps with memorization, for some reason! We may do it a few times, alternating who starts the verse.
I also have them write the verse sometimes, which really helps a lot when there are a few words the child keeps mixing up. When you write something down, it’s much easier to memorize!
For young children, I have found that they memorize without even trying. When my older kids were working on Psalm 1, they were trying to quote it one day. My toddler kept prompting them with the words they couldn’t recall! We couldn’t believe how a three year old could memorize a large passage of scripture by just listening to his older siblings.
Also we have the “Fruit of the Spirit” wall art posted in three places in our house. Our kids have memorized Galatians 5:22-23 just by reading the decorations in our home! Posting scripture is a great way to sneak in memorization. Try taping index cards to your bathroom mirrors with Bible verses printed on them. While your kids brush their teeth, they’ll be unknowingly memorizing scripture! Maybe you could hang a picture with a verse written on it in your kid’s room, and they’ll read it daily. Pretty soon they’ll know it by heart!
We also review the verses we have learned periodically. Sometimes I find that we have forgotten part of a verse or get confused, but for the most part we can quote the verses we have committed to memory.
If scripture memorization is not part of your family’s lifestyle, I urge you to consider adding it in. Your child is never too young or too old to hide God’s word in their hearts!
A big thank you to Megan Russell from My Full Heart for writing this article.