The last thing that anyone wants to read right after the beginning of the new year is any kind of post about setting a goal or resolution, picking a word, or setting an intention. Conversations and social media become saturated with this language. While some people thrive off of conquering or mastering a goal, other people can be easily overwhelmed by the thought of even starting to come up with anything “new” this year.
In Deuteronomy 11:18–20, we read this challenge given to God’s people as they were entering a new land:
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
When God’s people were facing a transition, they were encouraged to saturate their lives with the words of God. If you or your family do not already regularly memorize or learn passages of Scripture, this passage from Deuteronomy might sound ridiculous or impossible to achieve. You may quickly become overwhelmed with thinking of starting this “new” goal. However, with God’s Word comes God’s promises. When you plan intentions for the new year, the responsibility to get something out of it lies on your shoulders. When you memorize Scripture, God has already promised that He is the One that will give you something out of it. God promises that His words will be “sweet … sweeter than honey to [your] mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). So do not be overwhelmed, but rather lean on the promises of God.
Instead of focusing on all of the Scripture that you have not read or memorized, start with one verse that you can memorize and build from there. There is not a rule that says you have to memorize verses of a certain length or type. Download the February Everyday Faith calendar to get access to twenty-nine Bible verses from the New Testament that you can work through learning, and then check out these ideas for practical ways your family can have fun learning Scripture together:
Birth through early elementary school
- Use a silly voice each time you practice saying the verse you are trying to learn together. Talk like a pirate, whisper the verse, shout the verse, sing the verse, and so on.
- Make up actions that match the words in the verse.
- Learn the verse by having your child(ren) repeat words or short phrases back to you. If it is a longer verse or multiple verses, read or say the verse to them several times in a row, and then start leaving out key words or the last word of a sentence. Let’s use John 3:16 as an example. “For God so loved the ________ (world) that He gave His only ________ (Son)," and so forth. Gradually drop out more words as they learn to say the verse on their own.
- Add learning the verse into parts of your daily routine instead of adding it as a whole new activity. While your children are eating a meal or snack, read or sing the verse to them. Make it part of your bath-time routine or what you talk about as you get your child dressed in the morning.
- If you are going to add learning a Bible verse as a new part of your day, be consistent so your children know what to expect. For example, you could plan that every time you get in the car and start driving, you say the verse. Before long, your children may be the ones reminding you when you start driving that it is time to say a verse!
Elementary school and older
- Have each person in your family write the Bible verse you are learning on a sticky note (five people in your family = five copies of the verse). Have everyone put his or her sticky note somewhere in the house where other family members will see it throughout the week (inside the refrigerator, on the door you go out when you leave the house, a bathroom mirror, etc.).
- Write the first letter of each word in the verse you are learning on your hand at the beginning of the day to help you think of the verse each time you see the series of letters.
- Set an alarm on your phone with the verse reference (e.g., John 3:16) to go off several times throughout the day. Each time the alert goes off, read or say the verse.
- If anyone in your family enjoys creating art by hand or digitally, ask them to turn the verse you are learning into a design, and display it in your home as a reminder of what you are learning together.
- Take a picture of the verse in your Bible or screenshot the verse from a Bible app, and set it as the lock screen on your phone. Each time you pick up your phone, you will see the verse.
- Make learning a verse into a game. Pick a buzz word for the week that your family says often, such as school, soccer, hungry, or the like. Each time someone says that word and another family member calls them out for it, the person who said the buzz word will say (or read, if it is early on in learning) the Bible verse.
- Parents, text the Bible verse to your children at a time each day you know they will be on their phones.
- Celebrating learning together. Decide how often you want to celebrate. Perhaps every time your family learns five new verses together, you make it a tradition to have a movie night, play a game, get ice cream, or do something else you love together.
Work together with your family to center your daily routine around God's Word this new year.