Reading Time: 5–7 minutes
Our oldest is seven years of age and our middle child is three. We homeschool our oldest and include our three-year-old due to the natural integration of education with our daily life in the home. In our morning time that my wife leads, Scripture memory is a staple. Also, I just had a student at Enlightium Academy (where I currently serve as a Bible and Psychology teacher among other roles) ask me about Scripture memory today. She was concerned that she so easily forgets verses that she has memorized in the past. After assuring her that this happens to all of us, I gave a few pointers that I think you might also find helpful.
First of all, if you are tempted to think that Scripture memory is ol’ fashion, get over it. It is not . . . or maybe it is but it shouldn’t matter. Scripture memory is a wonderful practice that can deeply influence, mould, and shape one’s life. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:17 that God’s Word is a sword, the only offensive weapon mentioned in the spiritual armor that we are commanded to put on daily. The Scriptures can also bring encouragement and hope to the weary traveller—”For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). To memorize is to store God’s Word in the soul so that the Holy Spirit has easy access to it in times of need. It is one way that we partner with the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification journey.
Here are some ideas that I think are key to successfully memorizing Scripture.
First, memorize Bible verses out of the same version. If you switch back and forth, you will soon get confused, possibly a bit anxious, and then discouraged.
Second, memorize out of the same version that you like to read from—I admit that this is personal preference. Integrating your Bible reading and memorizing is really helpful and satisfying. I don’t like reading only to come across verses that are worded differently than what I have memorized. Now, if I am studying, this is different, for it is great to compare other translations as well as look at the original languages if you are able.
Third, use the chunk method when memorizing. For example, my family and I just memorized Acts 4:12. It states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (NIV).” We broke this into four parts: (1) Salvation is found in no one else, (2) for there is no other name under heaven, (3) given to mankind, (4) by which we must be saved. On the first day, we started with part one. I read the entire verse and then we all went around and said the first part. Then, on the second day, I read the entire verse, quoted the first and second part to the family, and then had everyone go around one-by-one and say both phrases. We help each other as needed but don’t rush in to save. It is okay for someone to struggle a bit if the overall atmosphere is encouraging. We continue adding a part of the verse until we have memorized the entire verse. Also, and this is important, we don’t move ahead to the next verse too quickly. Once each person can quote the entire verse from memory, we do not introduce a new verse for another 2–3 days.
Fourth, REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW. Right before we memorized Acts 4:12, we memorized John 14:6. Hopefully you can see a theme: salvation is only attainable through faith in Jesus Christ. In our pluralistic society, this belief is radically at odds with the messages in our culture. Thus, we are tactfully choosing themes that I want to teach and emphasize so that our children know what the Bible teaches on matters that will be challenged more than others (Our next verse will be John 1:12.). Concerning review, every person in the family has to go around and quote John 14:6 (yes, I make them say the address as well) before we work on Acts 4:12. This is so that verses are not forgotten, but rather etched into long-term memory. While we are focused on Acts 4:12, we are briefly rehearsing John 14:6 each morning. When we move on to John 1:12, we will rehearse Acts 4:12 every morning and then move to rehearsing John 14:6 only once per week instead of once per day.
Hopefully this is enough to help you get started. The “world” will be aggressive in trying to teach our children ways that are not in line with God’s truth and will, so if you care about your children’s spiritual life, then intentionality is required. Memorizing is one of the many ways that we can love and glorify God with our minds—”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).