David sighed when he looked at the math paper I had given him. “Do I have to do the whole thing?” he complained. “It looks too hard. I can’t do it all!”
“Not ‘I can’t,’ David,” I reminded him.
“I know, I know. ‘I CAN do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ ” he rattled off quickly. He was still disgruntled with the amount of work he had to do, but he bent his head purposefully over his paper and began his work. In that moment, a scripture had come to mind that was encouraging and full of promise. He had memorized that verse long ago during our family devotion time, and now it had come to his aid when he needed it.
That, fellow Christians, is why we memorize scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Clearly, God’s Word is a powerful spiritual tool that we as Christians can use daily, and we would be foolish to put that weapon aside to rely on our own strength and wisdom.
Every morning, the kids and I work on taking some of God’s Word and putting it in our hearts. The psalmist talks about “hiding” God’s Word in our hearts in Psalm 119:11. The ESV translates it as “I have stored up your word in my heart.” Scripture cannot be treasured in our hearts unless it is memorized. Here are the reasons I want my kids (and me!) to memorize God’s Word.
1) It is commanded by God. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses instructs God’s people to take God’s words and put them in their hearts. He reminds them to teach God’s words to their children and put those words everywhere they look – on their homes, on their doorposts, and even on their own bodies. He said they were to talk about God’s words constantly in all their daily activity.
2) It is encouraging in difficult situations. King David often found comfort in God’ Word: he states “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psalm 119:50) When I am afraid, I can call upon my memorization of this verse: “The LORD is on my side, I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6) When my husband is trying to make the right decision for our family, I can encourage him with “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Whatever struggles you may be facing, there is a Bible verse that you can draw upon for reassurance and comfort.
3) It is useful in fighting off sin and temptation. It has already been mentioned that God’s Word is a sharp and powerful sword. Ephesians 6:17 lists the word of God as the sword of the spirit in its description of the armor of God. Jesus made use of this powerful weapon when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Each time the devil offered up a new temptation, Jesus fired back with a scripture verse.
4) It is crucial to making good decisions. Undoubtedly, you have heard the verse “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Many times when I have found myself wondering what to do next in life, God brings to mind a specific scripture that completely answers my internal questions. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)
5) It is practical for sharing the gospel. Peter directs us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” When I meet someone that does not know Christ as Savior, I do not have to stumble around in my own weak words and explanations. I can use the influential words of God Himself. I can quote “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The Word of God is a mighty tool, remember? Let the Word of God speak for itself as you witness to others.
6) It is beneficial in praying more effectively. Sometimes, there is just no better way to pray than to pray the scriptures. Jesus promises “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7) Don’t forget – Jesus modeled prayer for us in Matthew 6 and even gave us words to say when our own words fail us.
7) It is critical for spiritual growth. David starts off his book of Psalms by describing to us a man who delights in God’s word and meditates in it day and night. This man is like a tree, growing, flourishing, and firmly rooted in the storms of life. When you memorize scripture, God’s words are always with you. Think of it as portable wisdom that will guide you throughout your day and help you mature as a Christian.
It is not difficult to see the importance of memorizing God’s Word, but how do I do it? There are many methods to accomplish the memorization of Scripture. I want to share a system that I found while researching the Charlotte Mason method of schooling. Here is the link that explains the Scripture Box system very thoroughly, but I will give you a quick overview here.
I purchased a 3×5 notecard box at Walmart along with two sets of plastic dividers to go inside it. The dividers were labeled with a permanent black marker in this order: Daily, Odd, Even, Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun., and the numbers 1 – 31. I then wrote out on several note cards the scriptures I wanted to start memorizing (I got some inspiration from this verses list) and placed them in the front of the box.
Then we started using the box. The first card (Ephesians 2:8-10) went into the slot behind Daily. Every day, I would simply read the verses on that card out loud to the kids two times with them repeating the reference after me. After a few days, they started saying some of the words along with me, and by the second week, they could say the verses without any help from me. When I was satisfied that they knew it, I moved that scripture to the Odd slot and placed Philippians 4:13 in the Daily slot. Now we practiced the new verse every day as well as the previous verse on odd-numbered days. When they mastered Philippians 4:13, the Ephesians scripture moved to Even, the Philippians scripture moved to Odd, and Mark 12:30-31 took the Daily slot. Now I read Mark 12:30-31 every day, and together we recited Ephesians 2:8-10 on even-numbered days and Philippians 4:13 on odd-numbered days. And the system continued on, with verses in the days of the week slots only being practiced on that specific day and the verses in the numbered slots being practiced on that specific date of the month. In this way, scripture is learned quite rapidly without much time or stress, and then it is practiced regularly to be sure it is not forgotten. It is working astonishingly well for us.
The kids’ minds are like sponges; so they memorize things quickly and easily. For me (and my crazy brain that is always going in a million directions!), I need a little extra practice. Consequently, I used an app (PicsArt) on my smart phone to put whatever scripture I am working on at the time on a photo and use it as my lock screen. I probably look at that screen dozens of times each day; so it definitely helps with memorization practice.
Accordingly, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)