By Emily Pilkington
Last fall, I planted daffodil bulbs in our yard. It wasn’t labor-intensive but still required planning, time, and effort that didn’t yield immediate results. The bulbs themselves weren’t beautiful. Brown chunks of organic matter that looked more dead than alive. I was making an investment with a future pay-off that I got to enjoy this spring.
Like my planting endeavor, the things that shape our lives and faith the most often aren’t instant or flashy. If I’m to retrace the things that impacted my faith the most it was what was mundane and consistent.
Scripture memorization is one such thing.
It doesn’t always feel meaningful, there were even times I didn’t know what all of the words meant exactly. And yet, learning God’s Word at a young age has made a huge impact on my adult life.
Psalm 23 came to mind in a traumatic labor and delivery room when I couldn’t muster up words of my own. 2 Peter 1:3 is plays through my head when the avalanche of overwhelm and self-pity threatens to swallow me whole. John 15:12 is on my lips when I discipline my four preschoolers.
As a mom of small children and a children’s ministry staff member, I’ve spent time helping children learn God’s Word as an investment in their adult lives.
Here is a practical list of strategies for memorizing Scripture that I’ve found helpful. Consider giving one a try during your extended time together this summer.
Attaching words to a melody helps us recall what we’re trying to remember. Plus, music isn’t just a powerful tool, it’s also something enjoyable in its own right.
Have a dance party to one of the following songs/albums, create a playlist you always listen to in the car, create a mealtime or bedtime routine where you sing the same song each time.
(Specific examples of songs that have been particularly helpful are listed at the end of this post.)
2. Make a Countdown
Each Christmas, my children and I create a paper chain that not only counts down the number of days until Christmas but includes one verse from the Christmas story. After lunch, we enjoy an Advent chocolate and add the day’s verse to the collection that came before.
This simple, repetitive act of reading the story over and over again each day meant even the three-year-olds in our home had large chunks of Luke 2 memorized by Christmas time. And as an added bonus, I did too!
Make your own paper chain that counts down the days until something you’re looking forward to as a family this summer and include a verse for each day.
Write out the words of a Bible passage and have your children illustrate what comes to mind.
You can do this by creating a poster for a smaller section or a picture book made out of stapled paper that includes one verse per page. Hang what you create in a prominent place or read the illustrated picture book you create.
4. Act It Out
Create your own set of motions for each part of the verse you’re trying to memorize together. As with the illustrating and singing, this muscle memory helps your kids use their whole bodies to learn Scripture.
5. Make a Puzzle
Write down the words of a passage you’re trying to memorize. Then cut them out, scramble, and have your children put them back together in order.
6. Use a Set of Cards
Use a premade set of cards that illustrate what you’re trying to memorize together and set aside a specific time of day to practice them together. (This could be at a mealtime, before bed, on the drive to school, etc…).
Tiny Theologians has several sets on The Fruit of the Spirit, The Armor of God, and additional passages with fill-in the blanks. And, while not Scripture, these that illustrate the Apostle’s Creed provide a great outline of our faith that is helpful for all Christians to know.
7. Get a Tattoo
A fake one, at least. Place it on a part of your body you’ll see a lot and review together.
8. Listen to Scripture Together
Use the Dwell App or another program that reads The Bible aloud on your phone while you drive, go for a walk, or make dinner. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to memorize a longer chapter or passage together.
Wondering what to memorize? Consider the following verses that utilize the linked songs.
You could even create your own summer playlist of passages to memorize together. Some of them even include hand motions and videos to dance to.
From Seeds Family Worship:
- 1 Peter 1:24-25, The Word of the Lord by Seeds Family Worship
- Matthew 28:19, Go by Seeds Family Worship
- Isaiah 41:10, Do Not Fear by Seeds Family Worship
- Romans 8:37, More Than Conquerors Seeds Family Worship
- Mark 12:30-31, Greatest Commandment Seeds Family Worship
From Rain for Roots:
- The Lord’s Prayer, Rain for Roots
- Hallelujah (Psalm 148), Rain for Roots
- The Heavens are Telling (Psalm 19), Rain for Roots
- Go Get the Lost One (Luke 15), Rain for Roots
From Crossing Music:
- John 14:6, Way, Truth, Life Crossing Music
- Luke 9:23, A Bigger Life Crossing Music
- Psalm 139:17-18, You Are With Me Crossing Music
- John 14:1-3, A Place for You Crossing Music
A great aspect about helping your kids learn scripture is that you, as a parent, get to benefit too. After all, the best thing you can do for your kids is to develop your relationship with God.
Wondering where to start? Try listening to A Bigger Life. In this podcast, Dave Cover teaches you how to develop a deeper relationship with God through the Bible and prayer.