Back when my children were younger, there was a phrase I often repeated: “Give me a verse.” This was usually in response to a sinful attitude, word, or action presenting itself. It was my way of reminding them (and myself) that all of our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions need to be shaped and come under the authority of Scripture. For example, suppose a hypothetical grandson of mine is complaining about having to eat his vegetables before getting a cookie for desert. Mommy reminds him of a verse he knows:
Do all things without grumbling… (Philippians 2:14, ESV)
Or suppose that same child is mad because he didn’t get things his own way. He wants to be the boss! Mommy reminds him of a verse he has memorized:
No one can serve two masters… (Matthew 6:24, ESV)
God is the boss! You must do things His way, and not your own way. Verses like these can then be used to help children understand their sin nature—“What is it that makes us want to grumble and complain? Why do we want to do things our own way instead of God’s way?”—and provide wonderful opportunities to share Gospel truths with them, such as, “We are sinners. We need Jesus!”
But “give me a verse” should not be used only as a means of correction. Our children should also be able to call to mind verses that remind them of God’s goodness and greatness in the very “ordinary” experiences of daily life. When my 2-year-old granddaughter delights in playing outside on a beautiful sunny day, mommy could ask, “Who made the beautiful sunshine?” and then remind her of a verse she has memorized:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ESV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above… (James 1:17, ESV)
All of the above presupposes that they first have verses memorized. And it’s never too early to begin Bible memory. My daughter and son-in-law are using the CDG resource, Foundation Verses, to introduce their young children to Scripture memory, and as a parenting tool. The resource includes the above four verses, plus 72 more. They are strategically chosen Bible verses for children 2-5 years old. The ring-bound pack includes 76 short verses designed to lay a firm Scriptural foundation of basic biblical truth that will pave the way for faith response. Each verse has a picture prompt to help non-readers remember the passage.
You can find out more about Foundation Verses here.