Yesterday in worship service, I had to smile. The sermon was based on the passage John 1:1-14. I knew it well. Why? Because my third grade Bible class teacher had us memorize it and several other long passages of scripture.
Scripture memory used to be common a few decades ago. It weakened a bit in generations after that when scripture memory work was limited in many cases to reciting just one verse (called a memory verse). It wasn’t as helpful because many kids looked at it for a few seconds then repeated it. Close enough was good enough for most teachers and the verses never made in to the long term memories of children. Now, it is the rare Bible class teacher that even asks students to memorize any scripture at all. It’s considered boring and therefore, thought to add no value to their spiritual growth and development.
Actually, the truth is that scripture memorization is a critical part of spiritual development. It doesn’t matter how easily they can look up a verse on their phones. Having it stored permanently in their brains provides benefits a Bible app cannot give.
- Memorized scripture gives your kids immediate knowledge of what God wants them to do when given a choice. Your kids will have to make many choices during their lives in a split second. They won’t have time to do a Google search for applicable scriptures and read them in their Bible app. Having important verses memorized gives them immediate access to the information they need to make a godly choice.
- Memorized scriptures serve as constant reminders of God’s promises, principles and commands. When your kids have thoughts rolling around in their heads, memorized scripture can provide some helpful input. For example, if your kids are thinking about how unpopular they are, memorized scriptures about God’s love can remind them they are indeed loved – no matter how it feels at the moment.
- Memorized scriptures can make it easier for your kids to encourage others and share their faith. When a peer asks a question about life or God or needs encouragement, your kids will already have ideas of what they can say stored in their brains. Adults may patiently wait while you search for answers in the Bible, but your kids’ friends want some wisdom in the moment. Your kids can provide wisdom beyond their years by quoting the appropriate scriptures (or at least a summation of them).
- Oldest memories stick with us the longest. Robot’s Law states that early memories are less likely to be lost than more recent ones. Other studies have found memories that are regularly reinforced stick with people the longest. Translation? Getting your kids to memorize and then regularly repeat key scriptures means those will be the last memories to fade as they age. Want your kids to have God’s words on their hearts for their entire lives? Start them on scripture memory early. It’s why many Christians tell stories of relatives in late stages of dementia who can still sing church songs and quote scriptures from memory.
Scripture memory work doesn’t have to be boring. Many verses have been made into songs. Singing them together over and over can cement those scriptures just as well as standard memorization. Plus the tune can serve as a trigger to bring those memories flooding back later. Take the time and effort to help your kids memorize scripture. It’s a great gift to give your kids.