Incentives. Prizes. Class recognition. All are legitimate ways to encourage and reward students for Bible memory. In my first-grade class, we always took a few moments every week to encourage Bible memory and acknowledge children who had memorized verses in the past week. We also took time to celebrate special milestones, such as when a child had memorized 25 verses. That said, there are some careful considerations I think we should take into account with all of the above. Depending on our manner and tone, we can either serve to encourage God-honoring thankfulness, or self-centered pride. As much as possible, I want to foster the former, and not the latter.
Here is an example of what I mean by this: Suppose you want to recognize a child in your class for memorizing 10 verses. Along with this recognition and maybe even rewarding him or her with a small prize, consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement such as…
Thank You, Heavenly Father for giving Julie the ability and diligence to memorize Your Word. I pray that she will now hide these verses in her heart so that she might not sin against You. May she think about these words day and night. May Your words give Julie joy, encouragement, and hope in You. May Your words cause Julie to love and trust and follow Jesus every day.
And I pray that everyone in our class will desire and diligently work at memorizing Your wonderful Word. Help each of us to love You and Your Word more and more! May we taste and see that Your Word is sweeter than honey and brings joy to the heart.
Including this type of prayer serves to point both the child being recognized and the students in the class Godward in their focus. It helps affirm and recognize diligence on the part of the child while pointing to the ultimate source and empowerment of his or her ability, as well as reminding the class of main purpose for memorizing the Word.