I don’t know about you but I was never encouraged to do much memory work growing up. We had the typical “memory verse a week” thing and I was very good at placing that memory verse in my short term memory so that I could get my sticker or whatever little reward was offered at Bible class. I don’t remember any of those verses.
When I began teaching, I knew I didn’t like the idea of memorizing random verses week to week that would soon be forgotten. I wanted to teach my students and my children to memorize chunks of scripture. If a child can memorize one verse a week for 13 weeks then he can easily memorize an entire Psalm in that amount of time — or even less time. If a child can memorize 2 Psalms a quarter, that’s 8 Psalm by the end of the year. That’s great but is Psalms all there is to memorize in chunks?
There are so many wonderful chunks of scripture that children can memorize and utilize in their everyday life. One of the more immediate ways they will use this scripture is recognizing it when it is being quoted from the pulpit. They’ll be encouraged to listen better because what they’re hearing is not foreign to them. They will find the Bible event more interesting if they have memorized part of it. They will have something to meditate on in those quiet times that we should all enjoy and encourage our children to learn to enjoy.
What about lists? Memorizing Bible lists is an important study aid. It is much easier to find your way around the Old Testament if you have memorized the names of the books. It is much easier to know who is who in the New Testament if we can recognize the names of the Apostles. It is much easier to fit all the Old Testament stories together if we have memorized the Kings or the Judges. Lists are great to teach our children but I’m afraid we have put way too much emphasis on lists. If I am ever lost and alone, I can’t see going through the list of Judges being very uplifting to me. If I’m ever in a situation that I cannot have a Bible with me — seems foreign to us but it could very well happen in our lifetime — thinking about the books of the New Testament is not going to be very comforting. On the other hand, if I’m alone, without my Bible, I can think about Psalm 23 and be comforted. I can think about Paul’s sermon in Acts 17 and be reminded who is in control, I can think about the sermon on the mount and be reminded of the great teachings of Jesus. The things that we have hidden in our hearts can never be taken away from us. I may be aged and can’t see to read my Bible anymore or can’t hear when someone reads it to me but I can remember what is hidden in my heart.