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I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
John opens his letter to Gaius with these words (3 John 1:4) and they ring true for so many of us. As Christian parents, we have no greater desire for our children’s lives than that they walk with the Lord and follow his ways.
We teach them and train them, and take them to church. And we hope that enough of it will rub off on them that they will develop their faith on their own. All of it, really, is in God’s hands. We do the best we can, and trust him with the rest.
Still, I try my best to plant those seeds of faith and watch the Lord grow them into plants of righteousness. One of my “seeds” is scripture memory.
Why Teach Your Kids to Memorize Scripture?
There are three reasons why I want my children to memorize God’s word.
1.) I want them to know the facts of the Bible, the reason for Jesus, and the nature of God so that they will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
In generations past, you may have been able to live a Christian life without having your thoughts or faith challenged, but the world my kids are growing up in is increasingly hostile to the faith and traditions of Christianity. It’s not enough to be a believer and be good anymore (was it ever?). They must be ready to give an answer to defend their faith, and more importantly, to share the gospel!
2.) I want my children to be able to resist temptations and thought patterns that are not from God. I want them to be able to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV).
When my daughter looks in the mirror at her growing body and begins to question the way she looks, I want her to take those thoughts captive and declare in her heart “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14 NIV) When they become angry with one another, I hope they remember that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 ESV)
3.) I want the word to get into my children because it is a better teacher than I could ever hope to be. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
The word of God can discern the thoughts and intentions of my children’s hearts! I always tell them “I’m your mother; I KNOW you,” but my familiarity with their habits and facial expressions and personalities is nothing compared to the Word of God! God is a much better parent than I am, and his words of instruction will develop my children into the people he has planned for them to be.
How to teach my children scripture?
I have three easy ways to plant God’s word in their hearts.
One of the best ways to teach scripture to little ones is to make up signs to go along with the phrases of the scripture you want to memorize. It doesn’t need to be complex. In fact, the simpler the better.
I’ll never forget standing on my neighbor’s driveway and watching her three-year-old son as he taught me Proverbs 15:1.
“A gentle answer,” he placed his finger to his lips in a “quiet” sign
“turns away wrath…” He turned his head and put his hand up (remember “talk to the hand” LOL)
“but a harsh word” He frowned and wagged his finger like a scolding mom.
“stirs up anger.” He pretended to stir in a large bowl.
As it happens, I was a young mom struggling with anger at that time. You think it was just coincidence that that particular verse was the one God used to teach me about scripture memory? No way! It pierced me to the soul, discerning my heart. I learned two lessons from that pint-sized prophet.
At a certain point in our homeschooling journey, we purchased a curriculum set that included Sing the Word: Great in Counsel and Mighty in Deed. We didn’t really use it during school times, but I would pop it in to the cd player of the car and wherever we were going, we had scriptures raining down on us in musical form. I love christian music, but as great as it is, it doesn’t compare to the power of the Word of God set to music. So simple, so impactful.
My children and I have memorized lengthy sections of scripture from these little cds with no effort at all! If there’s a verse you want to teach your kids, just try setting it to music and see if it doesn’t plant itself in your brain a little faster.
We often turn to Deuteronomy 6 as a guide for how to pass on the faith to our children. ” These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut 6:6-9 NIV)
Notice what that verse says about teaching your children God’s commandments: talk about them (all the time), wear the words, write them on your houses. Does your house have a decorative plaque or framed art with a scripture on it? Bet you didn’t think of Deut6 when you hung it up!
Now notice what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say “sit with your children every night before bed and review their scripture memory cards.” It doesn’t say “give your kids a sticker or other reward when they can recite the books of the Bible.” There’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but don’t get caught up in thinking that there’s a way that “good Christian parents” teach their kids that you aren’t following.
Nope. Scripture says talk about them. Keep the words where your kids can see them. Kids notice the stuff on our walls, perhaps even more than we do.
I’m willing to bet that using God’s word in your daily conversations will plant it in your children’s heart better than 7 years of AWANAs. Because it comes with your thoughts, your heart, and your authority/love as their parent.
What verses should we memorize?
I like to focus on verses that teach two things: the nature of God and how to treat other people. This is in line with the the greatest commandments (Love the lord, love your neighbor.)
You really can’t go wrong with selecting scripture for your kids’ to memorize. (Well, Genesis 3:10 might be an odd one to start with.)
Here’s a few of my favorites to get you started:
- Proverbs 15:1 (as mentioned earlier)
- Ephesians 4:29 (kind words)
- Matthew 7:12 (The Golden Rule)
- Romans 6:23 (One verse evangelism)
- Isaiah 9:6 (Nature of God)
- Ephesians 6:1 (obedience)
- John 3:16 (Gift of Jesus)
- 1 Cor 14:40 (helpful for keeping rooms tidy)
Mamas, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to learn the scriptures themselves. Often, when I am trying to get more Jesus into my kids, more Jesus ends up in me. And that’s the best thing that could happen. The more they see Jesus in me, the better I will be at leading them to the Lord.
Encourage one another!
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