After Awana

2:00 AM

Anybody remember Awana? Of course you do. Those were the times of a Christian kid's life -- free snacks, fun and games, Awana bucks, the Awana store and, of course, Bible memorization. (Just to brag -- my team took first in the Awana Olympics. So if I ever challenge you at the Sparky Crawl, just smile and decline. You value your dignity.) 

For me, Awana stopped at sixth grade -- and so did Bible memory. There were some halfhearted, quickly-fizzled-out attempts at being consistent. I memorized the book of James and of Titus: don't cheer. I don't remember any of it. Memorization was never a problem for me. I could have something memorized in a couple minutes. But long-term recall? It just didn't stick. Unless a verse has its special Sparky song or it's a pulpit favorite, I don't remember it. 

Did anybody? Besides those geeky people who seemed like Bibles sprouting legs? Who had time to run through all the verses they'd learned? (Hint: not me.)

So I asked a friend of mine who happens to be one of those weird people for the secret to making verses sticky in the mind. He said repetition, repetition, repetition -- and repeat -- repeat again -- ad nauseam -- until you could rattle it off like John 3:16.

That seemed ridiculous to me. For one thing, when was that point where memory took over mind? I heard John 3:16 since I was in diapers. It's everywhere. I know it in at least five different versions. For another, my mind plays this trick on me that the more I repeat something, the faster I forget it. I kid you not: when I played piano from memory, I was an ace at a song for a couple of weeks but as I kept practicing I'd have to revert back to the music book. My mind rebels against such hard work, I suppose. 

But I'd got to this point where I needed something to meditate on besides my problems, so I started out with one passage a week. (The above video was my first -- I learned it sitting on the porch on an early Sunday morning.) It's been about six weeks so far.

I'm hooked.

I recite in the shower and before I go to bed and when I get up and whenever I'm bored. Admittedly, I'm not a perfect person; I don't keep to my schedule exactly, because I sometimes learn two passages a week instead of the prescribed one. 

It's odd, to me, how much I enjoy it and how it isn't as hard as I thought. I can't explain my enthusiasm other than that it is an answer to a specific prayer that God would give me a hunger for His Word. And it truly is practical, to have an arsenal of power-punching verses. 

Join with me -- the After Awana Program for Reluctant Minds, if you will. We don't have cookies, but it's just as much fun. 

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14 impressions

  1. I'd love to join you--but I'm still in AWANA as a high school student. {Just to brag, our Bible quizzing team got fourth in the national competition} I have memorized long passages, and they're perfect for the shower. Thanks for reminding me that I need to recite Romans 5:1-11 {or was it 12? I don't like references!} again, after learning two months ago. : )

  2. Bailey~
    I'm in the same boat as you. I did AWANA for 7 years as a clubber, I did allllll the secctions in all the books for all the years I was in it, but I remeber so little of it now. It is so sad. I didn't even want to try to memorize anything but math facts for several years after I finished AWANA. Then, last year, I decided that memorizing God's word is one of the most important things a Christian can do, so I got crazy and decided to memorize 1 verse a day (about...) for 3 years and then could boast I knew 1000 verses. As you can imagine, I failed. So, this years, all I've worked on is Hebrews 11 on Slow, yes, but fruitful. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one out there with really great 5 minute memory, but no good long term memory.


    P.S. I'm the same way about piano!

    P.S.S. I'll join your AWANA program, but only if we get ribbons!

  3. "I'm hooked." So am I!

    Last year at this time, I was memorizing 3 verses a week, and I thought that was hard and didn't enjoy it very much.

    Now though, I'm realizing how useful Bible memory really is!

    "...the Word of God is living and active..." - Hebrews 4:12

    That verse is SO true!

    -Bethany (a faithful reader of your blog, who rarely ever comments...)

    Quick question -- what are some other passages you've memorized recently?

  4. I was never in Awana...our church didn't have it. But I always heard a lot about it! :)

    I'm super impressed by your memorizing whole passages. :) At the end of last year, I decided to start memorizing Scripture. I'm not sure if I never memorized any as a child, or if they just didn't stick with me, but I only knew a few verses by heart. I found this book in my room called "Memorize This," that I had bought years and years ago, and it's basically a memorization system. There are four verses in each category, and the categories are things like "assurance of God's love," "assurance of forgiveness," "fighting temptation," etc. Anyway, I've been trying to do one verse a week. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's a good start for me. :)

    I repeat my verses to myself all the time...when I'm walking outside, when I'm driving, when I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep (sometimes I don't finish them all then :). And I've realized that when I go a couple of days without repeating them, I start losing them. The hardest thing for me to remember, honestly, is the book, chapter, and verse. It's hard for me to keep track of all those numbers. :)


  5. I have actually been thinking about this lately! I was always really good at memorizing verses in Awana, but since then, I haven't had the discipline or even desire to memorize anymore. I always get started and then my motivation fades. I think I'll get started again though, with lots of prayers for help!
    Also, our group won first place, four years straight at Awana Olympics, so I might have to take you sometime! :)

  6. I must admit, between all the recitations in the shower and before you go to bed - I have half the passage memorized myself. Sound is magnified in the bathroom - especially if you're singing Laura Hackett. Just so you know.

  7. Melody -- I can't remember references either. I have to recite passages in order of Biblical appearance or else everything gets mixed up.

    Bethany -- So far I've memorized selections from Psalm 37, Ezekial 11:19-21, Matthew 5:3-12, half of Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Hebrews 4:6-16, 1 Peter 1:3-5 and, of course, the 1 John passage.

    Kristin -- I think my friend uses something very similar to what you're using. It works for you might just become another one of those walking Bibles. ;o)

    Lindsey Elise -- You're on! :D

  8. I'm really glad you included the video with this post. What you do in that video is not mere recitation of empty words but conveying the meaning and impact of the whole passage. Saying the passage from memory is an extra bonus that is much less important in my mind. Memorizing the passages is obviously prompting you to think about them deeply and repeatedly, and that is why this is a good thing, I think!


  9. Just watched your video, and I made three conclusions:

    One, I am totally jealous. Absoloutely jealous.

    Two, You have an amazing recitation. You don't just speak empty words into air, but a real heartfelt Scriptural confession.

    Three, Did you get that shirt from Walmart? Because, I swear, I have the exact same one in blue. ;)

    One of my New Year's Resolutions was to memorize more Scripture. I can't say it's been a total flop, but it hasn't been a big success either. In total, I have memorized 1 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 100, Romans 12:2, and Matthew 26:41. Nothing in comparison to what you just did in that video there. :P

  10. Hi Bailey!

    Just stumbled upon your blog and must say I am enjoying it a lot! You have a lot of encouragement to offer, and have inspired me to take up on your offer, so thank you :)

    blessings in Messiah,

  11. p.s. are you and bethany grace related?

  12. Alexxus, yep! My sister got two striped shirts for her birthday and I've stolen both.

    Rosi, well....I could deny it if I like, but yes, Bethany is my bff and little sister. (I relish the "little" part because she's so much taller and more mature than I am. :D)

  13. I had a goal of memorizing one chapter a week, but it has fallen by the wayside. :( I did memorize the book of 1 John and some psalms. It is hard work, and mostly I don't feel like it. Lousy excuse, eh? One thing I find helps with remembering Scripture (not actually memorizing it but having an idea of what a book covers) is to listen to the whole book at a time on my iPod. I do that when I am working in the barn. I found podcasts of the entire Bible free on Good job on memorizing, and thanks for encouraging me to continue.


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