In my early school days, many years ago, children would recite an allegiance to God and King and promise to ‘cheerfully obey our parents teachers and the laws’ . This would take place every Monday morning at the beginning of the school week, and then we would march into class accompanied by drummer and a tin whistle band.
In my particular school, our headmaster also taught us the inspiring words of Stephen Gellet, a Quaker of the 19th Cent.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” and we would recite these words as well as our allegiance each Monday. Add to these two quotes the Lord’s Prayer, and these would be the three most memorable words taught to me as a child as they still ring in my memory and give me simple guidance from time to time.
The power of learning bible verses and special prayers or hymns or sayings comes home to us when our lives are in crisis, and especially at the end of the life. Many times I have ministered to people in their last moments, and I would say the Lord’s Prayer and they would join in as best they could. I could always tell it meant a great deal to them to have some familiar words which they had learned in their childhood, and now in the extremis they would lift them and comfort them.
I think that we can do a great service for our children in our churches if we get them to learn by heart the Lord’s Prayer and psalms such as the 23rd psalm, and when troubled times come upon them, maybe many years later, they will be able to draw upon them and find strength to go on, or to comfort them in difficulties.
With Christian Education now losing its place in schools, we have so many children who will never have these words placed in their memories, and that is a great loss for them. They will certainly have the words of many popular songs, which is a way of life for many teens who seem to live with earphone plugs permanently in their ears, but not the wisdom of truths which past generations have used to sustain themselves in difficulttimes.