When I was young, almost every Sunday school teacher made you memorize scripture. Not those little one verse deals that come with the curriculum. These adults were seriously motivated to have us memorize large chunks of the Bible.
In third grade, my Sunday school teacher made us memorize John 1:1-14 and John 14:1-14. It took a lot of practice, but I finally memorized them (in King James English I might add!). To this day, when anyone starts quoting either passage, I’m there by barely glancing at the text.
Memorization of scripture has become a lost art. Those quick little verses some children are given are glanced at two seconds before saying them to the teacher and just as quickly forgotten.
Your kids need God’s words tattooed on their hearts (metaphorically speaking of course!). Their minds should be able to quickly think of the passage of scripture they need when in the midst of making a pivotal decision. They may not recall every word perfectly years from now, but they should at least remember the gist of the passage.
Putting scripture into the long term memories of your kids, requires in part a lot of repetition – especially meaningful repetition with memory hooks. There are some fun ways to help your kids practice important passages of scripture, while also giving them those little hooks or tricks to bring those memories back when they need them most.
Here are some of our favorites.
- Paint it. Writing by hand and drawing can help children remember things. Grab the art materials around your house and encourage your kids to create scripture art. Create a display area where you have a rotating exhibit of their works of scripture art.
- Sing it. Singing makes memorizing anything easier. There are plenty of great songs available that contain important scriptures. Go one step further and have your kids write their own scripture songs. If they aren’t particularly musical, they may want to use a familiar tune and substitute the scripture for the normal lyrics. (This works best when you match the Bible verse syllable for syllable with the original lyrics.)
- Rap it. For kids who prefer rap music, they may want to create a rap using the Bible verses as lyrics.
- Use it decoratively. Our daughter has a pair of Toms shoes with her favorite Bible verse on them along with other decorative elements. Or have a child that enjoys needlework or sewing create a pillow or wall hanging using the scripture. Paint scripture on a plate. The more your kids see important scriptures daily, the more they may become engrained in their hearts and minds.
- Tape it to the mirror. Write down important scriptures on note cards and tape them to the mirror your kids use multiple times a day.
- Work it into everything. Have you ever known anyone with one of those word a day calendars? It’s fun to watch them try to create opportunities to use the ridiculously difficult word in casual conversation multiple times during the day. Why not challenge your family to do the same with the Bible verse or at least the gist of it…perhaps for a week instead of a day. It’s okay if it gets a tad silly, because in this case you want them repeating it a lot. A funny memory attached to the scripture may also help them remember it better even years from now.
- Play a game. Have your kids create a game using a lot of different Bible verses. The more fun you can make it for your family, the more often it may get played…giving your kids more necessary repetitions.
- Make connections. Help your kids connect scriptures to familiar objects. God gave Noah the rainbow to help remind Noah of God’s promise to him. You can give your kids similar memory hooks to help them remember important scriptures. What if they connect Psalm 23 so strongly with the image of a sheep, they think of it every time they see sheep? Many scriptures have similar connections to objects. Remind your kids periodically that every time they see a particular object, they should think of that passage.
Your kids will find it easier to make godly choices when God’s words are firmly in their hearts and minds. Taking the time to help them memorize scripture will make it much more likely they will know the verses they need for any occasion.