My older daughter earned a sword last night. No, we don't have some kind of weird rewards system at our house. She earned it at AWANA. Last night, she finished up four years of Truth and Training, memorizing more than 500 Scripture verses, and our AWANA program rewards that accomplishment by presenting each kid with a beautiful, handmade wooden sword. (If you're unfamiliar with the AWANA program, you can check it out here.)
Why a sword? Because God tells us that His word is like a sword. Ephesians 6:17 calls God's word the sword of the Spirit, and Hebrews 4:12 says "Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
God's Word is a weapon in the fight against Satan. And make no mistake, we (and our kids) fight battles against him every day. Knowing God's Word by heart makes that battle a little easier. It's a weapon in our arsenal, along with prayer and the Holy Spirit that helps us make good decisions and walk away from temptation. Knowing God's Word influences our actions.
Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." If our kids don't know what God's Word says, they can't follow it. They can't use it as a weapon to fight off temptation and to make the right choices.
It's important that we read the Bible to our kids, but it's also important that we help them memorize it. Because when temptation and choices arise, they may not always have a Bible handy. Some decisions require a split-second choice based on knowledge and understanding that we already have. We want those choices to be informed by the Scripture our kids have in their hearts. When there's no time to look for the answer in the Bible, we want them to already have Scripture to pull from in their minds and their hearts.
Memorizing Scripture is one of the most helpful disciplines we can teach our kids. Not because there's a magic number of verses to memorize that make you a better Christ-follower than someone else. Not because it's another thing to check off the list. But because it makes a difference in their lives. It becomes a tool they can use to help them follow Jesus even when the going gets tough.
No matter the age of your kids, if they can talk, they can memorize Scripture. They can learn Scripture using songs and games. They can learn Scripture through a formal program like AWANA. Or they can learn Scripture through deliberate teaching at home. However you choose to help your kids memorize Scripture is great. The method isn't important. The result is.