“Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11).
Those of us raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church remember when, as children, our Sabbath School teacher would lead the class to the front of the sanctuary to recite from memory all 13 verses learned over the quarter.
Parents and teachers worked long and hard for that day and were proud of us for our effort. They knew that God’s Word had the power to change lives and that committing those verses to memory would be a blessing to us. That practice seems to be losing momentum in many local churches today.
I suspect that when Jesus and His siblings were children, the entire family spent time studying the Scriptures. Mary and Joseph knew to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). When Jesus was older, He did not depart from it. He still memorized, retained, applied, and shared the Scriptures (see, for example, Matt. 4:4).
If Jesus, the spotless Son of God, saw the need for memorizing Scripture while here on earth, shouldn’t we, as fallen human beings, follow His example? The home, church, and school must be prayerful, unified, creative, intentional, and consistent to successfully help families hide God’s Word in their hearts. This important task can be made fun and easy with the Holy Spirit’s help and the right tools. Any materials or techniques used should be Bible-based and age-appropriate.
No one is a spiritual island. When I look at my own life, I can see how my home, church, and school played a great part in preparing me for the kingdom of God and for service through memorization, retention, and application.
When I was 5, my parents gathered our family of 15 around our floor-based heater to sing, quote Bible memory verses, and learn Bible stories. Once we finished, we scattered to do our chores. Dad randomly selected one or two of us, and while we worked together, we talked with him about what we had learned through the Scriptures.
This physical, mental, and spiritual approach helped to broaden our understanding and strengthen our memorization efforts, all while planting the Bible verses deeper into our memory. They were ready to be used whenever needed, much like Jesus’ method when He taught parables using familiar objects. This solidified the messages within His listeners so that long after He was gone, they remembered them and their positive impact.
As time moved on and I became a youth, I was blessed to be mentored and tutored by young adults who loved God, His Word, and youth. They created Bible verse memory games, skits, crafts, and inreach and outreach activities to help us memorize, retain, apply, and share Bible verses and stories. Those young people had great, loving Christian leaders who gave their time and resources to help children, youth, and even adults on this journey.
God continued to provide ways, even into my adult years, for me not only to memorize, retain, apply, and share Bible scriptures but to help other families through my education at Oakwood University and Andrews University. I had a wonderful instructor in the late T. Marshall Kelly, a pastor God used to inspire me to start a scripture memorization ministry.
As we face problems today and into the future, nothing can bring more comfort and peace, while shielding us from the enemy and providing successful weapons with which to fight him, than the Word of God. With such sacred, immediate, and powerful benefits available to us, let us take time to memorize, apply, and share the Word. The Holy Spirit will bring verses back to us when we need them, as He promised in John 14: 26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”