I find large, dense books intimidating. Whether it’s a textbook, fiction, non-fiction or simply a long news article, I am not a patient reader. Thus, I miss a lot of information which often takes the enjoyment out of reading in the first place.
As a compilation of narratives, history, letters, poetry, parables and self-application lessons all packed into a single two-volume tome, the Bible is imposing and yet essential for growing disciples of Christ. As a new disciple, reading scripture has been one of the many difficult practices to do. However, I’ve learned that God can use ANY verse in the Bible to speak into my life. Reading Scripture is the clearest method to see and hear God work through our lives and God has been doing this ever since Moses and other ancient writers put ink to papyrus.
How am I currently going at it? One verse at a time! Journaling anything that strikes me and observing patterns in my responses connects my mind and heart with the Lord. Reading the Bible utilizing the S.O.A.P. – Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer – framework helps me focus on what I am reading and how I can apply the teachings of God to my life. As I continue to read scripture and ask God to speak to me, the Holy Spirit is able to read me and reveal in my mind what I need to hear from God each day.
What is the S.O.A.P. method and how can it be a way for God to speak in our hearts?
It’s quite simple. When you sit for your daily quiet time, read the Bible as you normally would with one simple difference. Underline or make note of any verses that jump out at you with special significance. This is the basis for diving deeper and using S.O.A.P.
Then in your journal, WordDoc, OneNote or GoogleDoc, you write down…
Scripture: Write down the verse or verses that stuck out to you. This can be one sentence or a whole book.
Observation: What did you observe about the scripture? What does it mean? Do you have any questions?
Application: How can you apply the observation to a particular circumstance in your life today?
Prayer: Write out a prayer to God based on what you just learned and ask him to help you apply this truth in your life.
That’s all there is to it! From there I sometimes try to paraphrase my S.O.A.P. entry into a few words. This way, when I look back at my entries, I notice consistent themes which indicate how the Holy Spirit is maturing me as a disciple, as a family member and as a human being. I love hearing God’s voice!