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Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Snippet: Bible Memory Verses

Lately I have noticed that it has gone out of fashion to encourage children to memorize Bible passages for church every Sunday.  This used to be the norm; in fact, it was actively encouraged when I was small.  There were organized competitions for who could commit the most verses to memory over the course of a month, etc., and prizes were awarded. My sister actually won a handmade doll in one of these memory verse contests.

I miss this, and I can't help but think that children are really missing out on something special.  Although at the time it was mostly about winning prizes or candy, I can look back now and see how those memory verses have stayed with me for decades now.  Some days I try to give myself that kind of a challenge again.

Why is this not encouraged any more?  I'm afraid we are trying too hard to spare the children's feelings,  for fear that they are the kind who have a more difficult time with memorization, or who lack supportive parents at home.  Are we afraid that the children will come to associate the Bible with failure and disappointment?  This seems simple to fix: Reward everyone who does the minimum, help all of the kids with drills when they are with us on Sunday, and encourage some healthy competition to keep up interest.  This is a skill with more value than the ability to drive or the ability to write a good essay!  Even the minimum is a blessing.

Now, I confess that at times I cannot remember the scripture reference (ex. Joshua 1: 9), but I think it is most important that I remember the words.  I have likely committed thousands of verses to memory, and usually I know the book, if not the section (beginning, middle, or end), so I can find it when I need the reference.  Virtually every scripture I have referenced on this blog was one that I memorized for Sunday school at some point.  I just wish I could say it was every passage.

I realized what a valuable gift my Sunday school teachers had given me when, of all things, I was reading Uncle Tom's Cabin for a college class assignment a few years ago.  I'm in a rush today or I would find the exact passage in my copy and quote it here for you.  In the scene I am referencing, Uncle Tom has been beaten nearly to death by Simon Legree, the wicked slave owner, and though he cannot see the pages to read the words in his Bible, he remembers what he has read and finds comfort in them. 

Do you see why committing Bible verses to memory is important?  If and when we find ourselves in a bad situation, where a physical copy of the Bible is not available to us, or perhaps if we found ourselves in a country where it was no longer legal to own a Bible, we can carry it with us in our hearts and our minds.  There it would be safe.  No one could take the Bible away from us!   Then, in that dark hour, it would be there to bring us comfort.

Just a thought today.  Feel free to leave me a comment!


Shannon said...

This is another area in which I feel that other world religions are putting Christians to shame. Hindus memorize thousands of lines of ancient prayers without understanding the language in which they were written, yet we can't be troubled to remember the words of the living God, which are simple enough for a child to understand? For Shame! Knowing the Bible helps us to fight temptation (Psalm 119:11), to defeat the lies of the Enemy (Matt. 4:1-11), and to minister to others (Col. 4:5,6). The Word equips us for every aspect of the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:16,17)! Let us not ignore God's gift, but instead let's embrace it so that the truth can change us (James 1:23-25).