Should Children Really Memorize The Bible?
Having spent thirty years in public education, I watched shifts and trends in the skills that secular educators felt was important for children to have for their success. One shift was away from rote memorization because technology provides quick and easy access to knowledge. Whether you agree or disagree with that shift, the same line of thinking cannot be applied to memorization of God’s Word. Here are eight reasons that memorization of the Bible is important at EVERY age, but critical for children. As you ponder this list, imagine how a child, your child, will be able to function in our present and future culture without the benefits that are included in this list.
Memorized Scriptures transform who we are at our core, or rather, the BIG picture of who Jesus Christ is transforming us to become.
In contrast, memorized math facts, for example, affect only what we know or are able to do because of quick access, but do not affect our personality and character. No other memorization has this transformative power.
- Example: A child is faced with a worrisome situation and is beginning to become anxious. Suddenly, her mind is rushed by the previously memorized Scripture– “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). The result is strength, faith, peace, and willing relinquishment of control.
- Memorized scriptures cannot “come flooding back” in times of need if they are not there in the first place.
- Even if a child does not fully understand a memorized scripture, its power (energized by the Spirit) endures through time, like a dormant seed waiting on just the right conditions for sprouting.
Memorized Scriptures affiliate us with a culture or profession of faith and says, “This is important to me as a Christian.”
- Example: Children memorize the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star Spangled Banner because they are citizens, and therefore affiliates them with their country. Chemical engineers memorize chemical compounds, and physicists memorize accepted scientific laws, because these are essential to their profession. Individuals naturally affiliate themselves with what is important to them within their age group, culture or profession.
- We frequently define ourselves, and equally importantly the world frequently defines us, by what is important to us. Memorized Scriptures affiliate us with Jesus Christ.
- This mark of identity creates “belongingness” that is important in relationships and connections of all ages. But this mark of identity is also viewed by the world as a testament of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Memorized Scriptures provide credibility with those whom God has put in our circle of influence.
The ability to quote Scripture, and even better provide the passage location, is much more credible than “Well, I know it’s in there somewhere. I’ll look it up and let you know.”
- Example: A group of middle schoolers are debating that there are many ways to get to the same God. They turn to one friend, asking for his opinion. A possible reply could be, “The Bible says you have to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.” However, because he has memorized Scripture, he is able to reply, “Jesus Christ said in the Bible in John 14:6—“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”
- People will debate our opinions. But there is an unexplainable power and authority in quoting only Scripture that renders people silent. If you have ever witnessed this phenomenon, you will never forget the experience.
Memorized Scriptures enable quick and easy retrieval of God’s truth.
Scriptures are internalized and readily available for when we need to share the Gospel on-the-spot or need reassurance within ourselves at a difficult or indecisive moment.
- Example: Jesus told his disciples to expect that they would be brought before governors and kings for His sake. He reminded them in Matthew 10:20-21 “…Take no thought how or what you speak…For it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you.”
- Memorized Scriptures become the reservoir of truth from which the Spirit of God gives us His message for that moment.
- We are commanded to know truth so that we can stand, defend, proclaim, and share. The Spirit can only bring to remembrance what we know from memorized Scriptures. Children who develop this skill develop tools of confidence, faith, and discernment.
Memorized Scriptures allow the Spirit of Truth to spontaneously reveal truth to feed our inner person or provide reassurance when we least expect it.
- Sometimes this is through internal validation, when the Spirit brings to mind a Scripture that suddenly has new meaning as you evaluate it alongside another passage.
- Other times this is through external validation as you observe situations, events, or global happenings. What you have memorized rings within you a deeper level of truth when you are able to spontaneously compare Scripture with Scripture, resulting in an increase in your level of faith.
- This ability is critical for our children to develop.
Memorized Scriptures allow us to more easily apply God’s Word, which all Christians are called upon to do.
- Concepts become ingredients that spontaneously can be put together and applied in new settings and circumstances.
- As children grow, their ability to apply God’s Word critical to a strong moral compass and to spiritual insight amid cultural sway.
Memorized Scriptures are tools that can instantaneously expose truth and error.
- Just as ultraviolet “blacklight” causes bacteria and body fluids to fluoresce in total darkness, memorized Biblical truth can trigger on-the-spot “checks in one’s spirit” when confronted with a cultural shift or popular notion that doesn’t ring true.
- Children don’t have to wait for second-hand guidance, because God’s truth is revealed directly to them through His Word.
Memorized Scriptures were Jesus’s weapons for victory against temptation.
- Jesus quoted Scripture directly to Satan.
- Because He triumphed over Satan’s attacks using this method, should we not teach our children to use this method, as well?
Of equal importance to memorizing Scripture is WHAT to memorize and HOW, in a way that’s fun and permanently imbedded. We invite you to explore our related articles on this topic.
Check out the new project by DOT Curriculum (Defenders of Truth). DOT uses a much different approach from traditional Bible or ‘Sunday School’ curriculum for children. DOT publishes focused, strategic, and sequential Bible curriculum for preschool through grade 12 with an emphasis on “teaching kids to think critically and to defend their faith”. Not only is it unlike anything on the market today, but their entire curriculum is totally free for anyone. They currently have some memorization tools and music samples available upon request.