Teaching Children (Or Yourself!) to Memorize Scripture
by Joy Hutzler
Does the thought of memorizing scripture intimidate you, or worse, bore you? The Bible tells us over and over to memorize its words because they are living, powerful and necessary to effectively live out our faith. If it’s so important to know God’s words and have them written on our hearts, why do we so often struggle to commit them to memory? If I’m speaking personally, scripture memory is another discipline that I struggle with because it takes effort, time, and intentionality that I often just neglect.
But I’m a mom. And I have four children that I’ve been entrusted by God to raise up as arrows to send out to the battlefield. I’d be a deadbeat in spiritual training if I didn’t equip them with the weapons they will need to be effective warriors for God’s kingdom. If they’re to fight off the kingdom of darkness and walk in the light, they will need the weapons of their warfare, which is the word of God. So, since I can’t neglect teaching them the stories from the Bible or how to use and study the Bible, I also must train them to memorize it, so that the Spirit will be able to use it when they need it.
I have found that it’s actually not that difficult to memorize scripture. My children start learning to quote scripture once they start talking. It’s really not that hard…and I’m going to show you how to do it. Afterward, I’m going to link to a few videos of some of the verses that my children have memorized.
First, you need to decide what verses you’re going to memorize. A quick search on Pinterest for scripture memory for children will produce a number of links to sites that will give you lists and often printables that you can use to guide you in this process. One of my favorite lists is this ABC set. My 2 and 5-year-old learned all of these over about a 8-9 month period by just practicing one verse at a time several mornings a week at breakfast, and reviewing the old ones once or twice a week. Mostly now that they are a little bit older, we just memorize whatever is part of their Bible curriculum (we homeschool.) But you can use verses from Sunday School or Awana programs or look on Pinterest and find a list. My youngest two (2 and 1) listen in and participate when I’m teaching new verses, and I have been amazed to see how much they pick up just by being in the room!
Second, you need to make time to practice the verse and review old ones. This could be at mealtime, in the car, or at bedtime. Choose a time when it will be easy to remember to practice, and when you can get your hands on the printed verse (with your Bible, or a printable, or even pulled up on your phone). After you introduce a verse, practice it a few times. On the next day, practice your new verse a couple of times and pick an old verse or two or three and review them. Literally, all of this will take 3-5 minutes at most. You’d be surprised, though, what kind of conversations learning new scripture will start! Be alert to opportunities to teach spiritual truths and willing to take an extra couple of minutes to do so. This is the whole reason we are memorizing the Word!
Last, you’re going to need a catchy way to remember the verse. This might not come easy for everyone, so I will link below to some CD’s that are full of scripture already put to music and that might be a big help. When I introduce a new verse, I simply look over the verse a couple of times on my own and notice when reading it if I can put it to a rhythm that will make it easy to remember. Sometimes I make up a little tune. Sometimes I have them say the verse in a silly voice or emphasize one part of the verse over another. Doing something out of the ordinary, rather than simply reading/quoting the verse, helps it stick to the brain more easily.
So, there you have it! All you need is to figure out what verses you are going to memorize, find a time to practice, and put it to a catchy rhythm or tune. You’ll be so thrilled to see your children memorizing God’s Word, and the added bonus is that those words are settling into your heart and mind as well as theirs! It’s a win-win!
Here’s a link to my youtube channel, where I have a few videos posted of some verses we have learned. These may give you an idea of how I come up with a tune or rhythm to teach the verses.
Check out Seeds Family Worship, which is word for word scripture put to modern music.
BONUS: Scripture Lullabies are beautiful songs written from scripture, though they may not be word for word. They are still great to have to listen to or playing in the background of your home or nursery. AND one out of ten of their CD’s is donated to a crisis pregnancy center to bless a new mom in a crisis pregnancy situation.
And finally, here is my 2 year old quoting Romans 8:28 last week.