A Word to Parents and Teachers
What does it take to get children to memorize? Children learn by example. They learn to talk by mimicking the sounds they hear. They learn by watching you. Parents and teachers must model what they want children to learn. You must be aware that asking children to value Bible memorization means that you must not only value it, but that you do it as well.
What is the natural response of a child to the idea of spending time memorizing Bible verses? Children given free time will want naturally to play with toys or friends—to do anything but memorize. The heart of the problem is that every person, young or old, who resolves to memorize Scripture is at once engaged in spiritual warfare. Satan knows the power of God’s Word and he will do anything to prevent us from memorizing it.
We believe that a key factor in Bible memorization is starting at a very young age. Young children’s minds are not cluttered. Their brains are very elastic and beg to be stretched. It is very easy for young children to memorize. Often they memorize entire books that have been read to them only a few times. If the habit of memorization is started at a young age, it will become as regular in our lives as brushing teeth or making the bed. Once it is established as part of the routine of life, the habit will likely last a lifetime.
For older children who have not yet learned this habit, incentives may be a helpful motivation. Some people may object to the idea of awards because they might corrupt motives. Children, they might say, should memorize because of their love for the Word of God. We wish that were always true. But most of life is based on incentives and, if handled correctly, they are a positive motivational tool to help children do what they are not naturally inclined to do. At the same time, we should help children understand that knowing the Word of God is their greatest reward.
If Scripture memory has not been a part of your family or classroom experience, we suggest that you discuss why it is important to memorize God’s Word. Make it clear that this is not an optional activity. Tell them that you are all going to work together to learn the verses and that there will be incentives along the way to encourage them.
Praying for and with your children about memorizing Scripture is one of the greatest things you can do. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, the Lord declares that “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” If the Lord calls us to teach his Word to our children, we can be assured that he will hear us when we seek his help in memorizing.