When I was a child, I didn’t know how much of an impact memorizing verses would have on me.
Can I recite hundreds of verses by memory now? Unfortunately, the years do their work, and I can’t repeat many of them anymore (at least not word-for-word).
But I do know that every time I am facing a problematic situation and I pray to the Lord for guidance, one of those verses invariably comes to mind. All that time trying to commit verses to memory achieved more than I knew then. It got me in God’s Word, searching for the most beautiful passages to memorize. It gave me familiarity with the pages of my Bible. It helped me own the words as not just beautiful language, but as beautiful truth. It gave me ownership over those verses like they weren’t just written for anyone, but they were written for me. It helped me love God’s Word.
There are other ways to help your kids to know their Bibles aside from memorizing verses, but I wanted to tell a little of my own experience first to encourage you: don’t underestimate the impact memorizing Scripture can have on your children.
It’s one of the best ways to get your kids to really learn Scripture, to understand it, and Lord willing, accept the truth of it. If necessary, I even recommend bribery. If you want to take it up a notch beyond just memorization though, here are a few suggestions.
- Memorize in context.
I think we do our kids a great disservice when we have them just memorize a random verse here or there. Not only is it harder to memorize this way, but much theological or doctrinal error can result when we don’t consider verses in their context.
- Talk about the passage you are memorizing, and what it means.
This could be a great way to incorporate some family Bible study. Memorize a passage of Scripture together while talking about what it means. Do a little research on the passage yourself and help your child understand it as they memorize it.
- Talk about (and memorize) Scriptures that apply to real-life topics or situations.
Try to do this not only for situations in your child’s life but for the information they get from the news or school. When a subject seems to be foggy, help them to see it with clear eyes by searching for what the Bible says about it. When we show our kids how the Bible is applicable to their real-life and real-world, they’ll remember that (and hopefully go back to God’s Word the next time they have a question).
- Encourage your kids to read through the Bible on their own.
Hopefully, they’ll come to desire this themselves, but if not, find ways to encourage them to read the Bible cover-to-cover. When I started reading through the Bible by myself (around that same time I was bribed to memorize verses), it gave me a much better sense of where to find things in the Bible, the order of the books (even before I could recite the names of the books of the Bible in order), and it helped me understand how everything fit together.
Love God’s Word yourself.
What is the end goal of wanting our kids to know their Bibles? It isn’t for some intellectual knowledge, is it? We want them to know their Bibles so they will come to love God’s Word. The thing is though, love for God’s Word often isn’t taught as much as caught. What is YOUR attitude toward the Bible? Do you read it regularly? Do you search the Scriptures in prayer as you face big decisions? Do you believe everything it says is true, or only some of it? Does it make any impact on your life? We are dreaming if we don’t think our kids will notice the answers to these questions and take note. If we want our kids to love, and know, and respect God’s Word, and find it worthy of loving and respecting and knowing, we need to make sure we are taking a high view of God’s Word ourselves. When our kids see us taking it seriously, they’ll take it seriously.
- Spend some time in prayer, praying for God to give your kids (and you!) a true love for His Word and a desire to know it better.
Once again, I speak from personal experience. I don’t think it would have occurred to me as a child that the Bible was worth reading if it wasn’t for one simple thing: my mom’s Bible open on the table every morning when I came up for breakfast. And I’m pretty sure her time was spent not only reading her Bible but praying for me. I am hopeful that through faithfully reading and studying the Bible, I can give my kids the same good example that my mom gave me, and I pray that a love for God’s Word will sink into their hearts too.
(Though as a mom now, I’m still working on that “Bible open when the kids get up for breakfast” thing. I might have to wait until they stop waking up before the sun. In the meantime, I’ll shoot for having the Bible open when they wake up from nap time!)