Can you name the book of the Bible that comes before, and the book that comes after, Habakkuk? Can you recite, word perfect, John 3:16? Can you find the place in the Scriptures where the Ten Commandments are located?

On Saturday, May 6, boys and girls from across Oklahoma, after months of hard work and memorization, will gather for the annual State Bible Drill competition, to tackle such biblical feats of strength.

While mentioning Bible Drill competitions may, for some, bring up chilling childhood memories of memorizing countless Bible verses only to be put on the spot, the reality—both past and present—is much more meaningful and positive. In fact, the annual Bible Drill competition is not about obscure Bible knowledge at all. It is about helping generations of young people become well-acquainted with the Word of God, at a time when biblical illiteracy is soaring.

For most Baptists, we recognize the importance and urgency of this effort. We know that any time invested in the Word of God is important. That is why, whether these boys or girls earn the State Bible Drill certificate or not, the very spiritual exercise on which they have endeavored will bring a lifetime of blessing.

We know that “God’s Word never returns void” (Isaiah 55:11) and that we can hide His Word in our hearts “so that we will not sin against Him.” (Psalm 119:11). Moreover, Jesus Christ Himself, the sinless Son of God, knew full well the power of knowing God’s Word. When He was tempted by Satan, He overcame by quoting Scripture.

If you want to know what most influences young people today, take a look at what they have memorized. Listen to what songs they know by heart. See what movie scenes and TV shows they can quote, word-for-word. What we memorize shapes who we are as people.

We sometimes set the bar too low, thinking, “This is too many verses for one child to memorize,” when the same kid has memorized numerous secular songs and TV show lines that don’t lead toward God.

Don’t believe me? Several weeks back, the nation observed “Pi Day,” honoring the mathematical symbol of π, which equals 3.14159. That number is rounded up, as “Pi” goes on for millions of digits. On March 14 (or 3/14), entire youth rallies are held in honor of “Pi,” where students memorized and recited the digits. The record holder was able to recite tens of thousands of digits beyond 3.14159. That is what I call an amazing memory!

While that kind of memorization is all well and good, how much more important is it for young people to know God’s Word than “Pi” digits? That is why I believe now is the time, not to move away from Scripture memorization and God’s Word, but to refocus upon it.

Wouldn’t it be great if every church and every Sunday School worked to put God’s Word in the hearts of children? What if Scripture memory in general wasn’t just something for overachievers but something that every believer did?

For those who have been endeavoring on this effort, we applaud you and pray that your tribe would only increase. After all, the blessings and fruit from this move toward the Word of God would be so numerous that even mathematicians observing “Pi Day” would be impressed.