S.O.A.P. the Scriptures!
Several years ago I was introduced to S.O.A.P. Not the bath bar, but a Bible study method that helped transform my daily quiet time with the Lord. This simple tool was created by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro from New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii as a way to help his congregation skillfully study the Word of God. Here is how it works!
First, set a time and place that you will be diligent to spend time with Jesus. Make sure that you have all that you need to begin. The essentials are your Bible, journal, and something to write with. I typically have worship music and my Bible commentaries as well. Next, you will need a reading plan. Right now our church is reading a chapter of Proverbs each day, with the chapter corresponding to the calendar day. Today, March 4, I read Proverbs chapter 4 for my quiet time. The important thing is to find a plan that you are interested in and will enjoy. The internet is your friend when it comes to finding Bible study reading plans. Just be careful of the source!
Now it is time to prepare your heart and mind to meet with God. Walk through a time of prayer and ask God to show you anything that would hinder you from hearing His voice. The Lord often reveals sin in my heart or broken relationships that need to be mended. This time of cleansing opens my spiritual eyes and ears. The final step of preparation is to simply ask the Lord to speak to you.
It is now time to read the Word! When I finish reading, I choose a verse or few that I am going to focus on. Once I have decided on the text, it is time to S.O.A.P. the scripture! Here you will see what S.O.A.P. stands for and how to walk through each step.
Write down the verse(s) that you focused on word for word, including the address.
Write down what the scripture says in your own words.
Write down at least one action that you will take in light of what you read and learned.
Write out a prayer regarding what you have learned and how you will apply it.
To get even more focused on the observation here are five S.P.A.C.E. questions to ask yourself about the scripture you are studying:
Is there a Sin to confess?
Is there a Promise to claim?
Is there an Attitude I need to change?
Is there a Command for me to obey?
Is there an Example for me to follow?
The Word of God is powerful. Do not rush to finish, take your time and enjoy your time with the Lord. Meditate on what you have learned and think through the application. My prayer is that God will use this S.O.A.P. method to grow you in the faith. I know that journaling is not natural for everyone, I was one of those guys. However; I have learned to love journaling and now have a library that my children and their children will be able to have long after I am gone. They will be able to see my heart for the Lord and hopefully spur them on in their faith journey. God bless you!