Updated February, 2020
The world is a scary place to be raising kids. You just have to glance at the headlines in the paper to see that the world is turning against Christianity. How long will we or our children have the freedom to worship Christ openly? Unless God reaches down and puts a stop to this down-hill course our country is on, the freedoms we have been accustomed to will rapidly erode.
But more dangerous than persecution, are the temptations that face our sons (and daughters) like never before with the easy access to all kinds of evil on the internet, not only on computers, but on smart phones carried around in the pockets of most young people.
How do our four sons and our sweet little daughter stand a chance of growing up pure and godly when they are so bombarded with evil on every side?
Psalm 119:9 has an answer for us. It says,
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.
Our young people can cleanse their ways through God’s word. Paul writes in Ephesians, while describing the Christian’s armor, that we should “take the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.”
Our children are in a war. Like Apollyon in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Satan is warring for their souls. It was with the sword (the Word of God) that Christian was able to fight off Apollyon. Without it, he was helpless and faced defeat.
Would you send a soldier into battle without any weapons? He would be helpless against the attacks of the enemy. We would do well to make sure our children are equipped to do war against the enemy of their souls.
And, of course, Jesus, our best example, used Scripture to defeat Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness.
Because of this, we as a family have tried to focus on Scripture memorization. We have not always been as consistent as we would have liked but through the years we have learned some things that have made it easier.
If you are going to memorize consistently it takes a lot of dedication.
If your children are younger and not very self-motivated, a lot of the responsibility falls on the parent. This is true especially if your children are not reading yet, but we’ve found even with older children, it’s often the parent that sets the stage. I’ve realized that when I have a few minutes after meals or in the evening I have a choice? I can choose to either be on the computer (or reading a book) or initiate memory-work time. Which will pay off more in the long run?
We have found making ourselves accountable to another family helps greatly. The most we have memorized as a family (that is until our children qualified for Nationals while doing the National Bible Bee) was the year when we decided to memorize Romans 1-7 with another family from our church. We planned together to memorize a chapter a month. I know that without that accountability we would have made excuses as to why we should get extra time and we would never have made our goals.
Don’t underestimate the power of offering small rewards to motivate your children. When we were memorizing Romans, upon the completion of each chapter, our children would spend a fun day together with their friends who were also memorizing the same chapter. We don’t mind giving monetary rewards either. As your children grow up, they will realize that the scripture that they have memorized is the greatest reward but, meanwhile, it really helps to have more immediate and tangible rewards.
For the past six years we have also joined The National Bible Bee during the summer. For a small membership fee they will send you a Bible study book on a portion of scripture and scripture memory cards. At the end of the summer, you can have your children take a test on the materials. If they do well enough they are invited to attend Nationals where they can compete against other young people and win cash prizes.
Knowing we are memorizing along with thousands of others and knowing that a test is coming at the end of the summer is motivation to stay on course.
When I was young I was part of the National Bible Quizzing program. I memorized whole books of the Bible during the years I participated. Was it overly competitive? Yes, sometimes. But I will never regret the large portions of scripture I memorized.
There are many different ways to memorize.
Say a passage together three times at each meal. It is easiest to be consistent if we print or write out the passage in large letters and hang it by the kitchen table. Usually by the end of a week we have the passage memorized.
Write the passage on a dry erase board and erase one word at a time. I remember enjoying this in Sunday School when I was young.
Make it visible. While we were participating in the Bible Bee this past year, they suggested hanging the passage in doorways throughout the house. Every time you walk through the doorway, you were supposed to quote a different highlighted section of Scripture. Our youngest son really latched on to this idea and soon had the house plastered with Bible verses.
Use an App or online resource. Scripture Typer is a free online resource to help you memorize. My sons have enjoyed using this. I also enjoy using the KJV Bible Memory Version (described more fully here).
My older son likes to write the first letter of each word of a verse he’s memorizing on his hand. He says by the time it washes off, he often has the verse memorized.
Listen to Scripture set to music. There are many Bible CDs available. Scripture Memory Fellowship is one of our favorite resources. I love their ABC Memory Book, and have used it when our boys were little. The CD that goes with this has sweet music that is not loud or obnoxious, but varied enough to be interesting. (If you’re interested, I made these Scripture Memory flash cards to go with it.)
Reviewing what we have learned is probably one of the hardest steps. It is discouraging to work hard to memorize a passage and then forget it. A few years ago, I came across this index card method of making sure you review the verses you’ve memorized.
It involves reviewing recently learned passages on odd or even days, older passages on different days of the week, and still older passages on different days of the month. The link above includes detailed instructions and printable index card dividers with labeled tabs.
However, if you look at Scripture memory as not just a method to stockpile an arsenal of weapons for some future time of need, but a goal in itself- a constant washing of our minds with the Word of God- we won’t look at verses we forget as wasted time.
The Most Important Factor
I want to be sure to add that we, of ourselves, cannot choose the direction our children go. We cannot make them pure and holy. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. But God is able to use the Scripture they have memorized. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Paul says to Timothy “that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
I’ll close with the words to a hymn by Isaac Watts.
How shall the young secure their hearts
And guard their lives from sin?
Thy Word the choicest rules imparts
To keep the conscience clean.
When once it enters to the mind,
It spreads such light abroad,
The meanest souls instruction find,
And raise their thoughts to God.
’Tis, like the sun, a heav’nly light
That guides us all the day,
And through the dangers of the night
A lamp to lead our way.
Thy precepts make me truly wise:
I hate the sinner’s road;
I hate my own vain thoughts that rise,
But love Thy law, my God.
Thy Word is everlasting truth;
How pure is every page!
That holy Book shall guide our youth
And well support our age.
I hope I’ve inspired you to start memorizing if you aren’t doing it already. I know that we need to start up again. We haven’t been very diligent with it lately. Do you have any tips or favorite resources to share? What are you currently memorizing as a family? Let’s commit to being more intentional about memorizing God’s word.