One of our family’s Christmas traditions is the reciting of the birth story from Luke 2:1-20. Years ago, at ClearNote Church, our entire family memorized this portion of Scripture, along with many others in the congregation, to recite at our Christmas Eve service. Since moving away, we have kept this tradition, and recite the passage together on Christmas morning before opening presents.
But my kids (and I!) don’t remember it exactly from year to year. So at the beginning of December, we dust off the notecard that we have the verses written on, and renew our memory of the passage.
So I thought I would use this annual remembering as an opportunity to describe how I do Scripture memory with my kids.
My kids and I memorize large chunks of Scripture. We usually memorize entire chapters, or sections that flow together and have a common theme. As a child, I did some verse memorization through Awana, but they were never large chunks–just 1 or 2 verses at a time. I am thankful for that background–many verses are familiar to me now because I learned them as a child. But I have come to appreciate learning the large chunks so much more. My first foray into larger sections was an accountability group in college (with Emily!), and it was there that I saw how God uses the hiding of His word in our hearts to change our lives. Then, and ever since, I have seen that when I memorize a big chunk of Scripture, God uses that memory to apply directly to some circumstance in my life. His Word is living and active, and when you work to memorize it, you will be amazed how clear that becomes.
During our homeschool days, we have two separate times where we work on Bible memory. In the morning, as we’re cleaning up breakfast dishes, we will recite one of the chapters that the kids already know. We have a different chapter for every day of the week. As our knowledge grows, hopefully we’ll increase what we’re reciting during this time. Then, after lunch while my little kids are napping, the biggest 4 and I work on memorizing a new section. We will tackle anywhere from 2-5 verses a week, depending on the difficulty of the passage. We read the verses through once, then say them together 3 times. By the end of the week, it’s memorized. This semester, we’ve been working on James, with the goal of hopefully memorizing the entire book over the next two years. We are almost done with chapter 1. When we finish chapter 1, it will go into our morning rotation, and we will start working on chapter 2. (As a bonus, James has 5 chapters. So, if we could finish the entire book, we would recite one chapter a day for the five days of the week! This makes my neat-and-orderly heart happy. If only all of life were in multiples of 5.)
The kids have already seen how this applies practically to their lives. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” We have talked about how various trials means everything from having a handicapped sister to having a sister unwilling to share. “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Wow. That routinely hits all of us between the eyes. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Knowing that the kids already have this Biblical language in their vocabulary makes discipline sessions easier–we can speak the same language, and know that we are coming at the problem from a Biblical standpoint.
But what about retention? I had an epiphany about retention this semester. The goal of Bible memory is not that we memorize it, then remember it word-for-word for the rest of our lives. We are finite and fallen, and our memories do not work that way. While I can review some of the things that we have learned with the kids, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the place where we’re reviewing every single thing we’ve learned so that it’s all fresh in our memories. But what I can do is know that once they have memorized a passage, it will be like a familiar friend when they are reading it as adults, or listening to a sermon on that passage, or needing to remember something about being slow to speak, for example. It is tucked away in some corner of their memories forever, and the retrieval will be much easier than if they had never learned it. If they want to brush up on their memory of a particular passage when they are older, it will come back to them so much faster than starting from a blank slate. My goal is to fill them with as much Scripture as I can, and not obsessively make sure that they are remembering every single thing we have ever learned.
Here are some of the chapters that we have learned together.
I would love to hear your favorite passages of Scripture to memorize!