When it comes to memorizing bible verses, we don’t often see the point. It is something we did in Sunday School when we were kids, but that’s the extent of it. And when it comes to making our kids do it, it seems like more work than its worth, but I would contend that teaching your children bible memory verses actually helps your job as a parent.
In elementary math, we see the importance for kids to memorize the basic addition facts as well as the multiplication tables. While they don’t understand why they must put these numbers to memory, we know that as they advance in higher math being able to pull these facts out of their brains quickly will be a great benefit to them. We can apply the same logic to memorizing scripture. In Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua to meditate on the Law day and night so that he will be careful to do all that is written in it and have success. Just like memorizing basic math facts helps us in Algebra, internalizing the Word of God helps us to keep His commands.
Scripture memory sets children up for victory against temptations
As parents, we strive to set our children up for success in life. We want them to go to a good school, so we look at the options and choose the one that will best prepare them for the next step. We make sure they have tutoring and/or extra help in the areas they are struggling. We take them to extra-curricular art classes, dance, sports, and a multitude of other things to prepare them for life in the best way we know how. We pay for extra ACT or SAT Prep courses to ensure they get the best possible score so they can get into the college of their choice. We want the best for our children and are willing to sacrifice ourselves if necessary to make sure they have it.
Just as we set them up for success in physical areas of life, we need to set them up for success spiritually. Temptations are a very real part of life. At this point in their lives, we are right by their side acting as their conscience helping them decide between right and wrong. But a day will come when that is not the case. They won’t always have us to help them make the right decision, but when we give them the word of God as their standard for life we set them up for victory.
Your word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
To give our children the tools to fight against temptation, we must be teaching them the gospel. Not only on Sunday morning, but we must be living it out in front of them; teaching them diligently and talking of it when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7) We all need to be surrounded by these truths of God’s word. When we add bible memory to this and store these truths in our hearts, the Helper will bring them to our minds when temptations arise.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
Scripture memory gives a reason for the “why”
Children ask “why” a lot. Sometimes it can be hard to continue to come up with reasons for the behavior we require. But when all of our rules are tied to the bible, we have a black and white reason for the expectations we have for them. I find it easier to answer my children’s questions when I can point them straight back to the source.
- “Why do I have to have a good attitude when I do things?”
- Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14
- “Why does it matter if I do my work lazily or sloppily?”
- Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23
- “Why is it wrong for me to get angry?”
- Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
- “Why do I have to forgive my sister?”
- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
- “Why is it wrong if I lie?”
- …the Lord hates…a lying a tongue…” Proverbs 6:16-17
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (One of the Ten Commandments)
Just as these verses answer the immediate why, they also answer the long-term why. As children grow into teen-dom and young adulthood and begin considering life outside the nest, they can give a reason for the standards their parents instilled in them. These truths are like stakes for direction and support. Just as we put stakes in the ground so that our tomato plants have something to grow up on, we give our children the word of God to give them the direction to grow. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Scripture memory tethers them to God rather than to us
In his book, Reset: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding, Todd Friel makes a statement that makes complete sense, yet it completely challenged me. “Tether your child to you, and the odds are they will fly the coop. Tether your child to Christ, and he/she will submit to Him long after you and I are dead.” In other words, we must be teaching them God’s rules. Show them that they are obeying God when they obey us. And, as the psalmist says, the best way to obey is to hide His rules in our hearts. When the time comes to let them go into the world on their own (and believe me, it will come faster than you expect) we can breathe easier knowing that the word of God is with them.
When Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was giving advice to his son he said to observe and not to forsake the teachings of his mother and father. He counseled that when these words are stored in his heart they will guide his steps and guard his way. How great to know that when we are no longer there to keep them on the narrow path, that our God is with them.
Bind [my words] continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
So where do we go from here? There are several scripture memory guides on the market — invest in one for you and your family. Memorize with your kids, show them it is important for you too. A family devotional book that we have personally used and enjoyed, Sword Fighting, has 52 bible memory verses along with applicable devotions. Another great resource that my family is a part of where scripture memory is a key aspect is AWANA. I highly recommend joining a club at a local church.
I have made a set of 16 illustrated scripture memory cards containing some key verses for children. I want to give you a set for free when you join my mailing list. Just follow this link to get them.