As a teenager and then as a young adult what little bible study I did was always guided by a lesson plan or a study book which would lead me through what I was meant to read and what the scriptures meant. Now I am sure these guided studies have helped a lot of people but having realised how little of the Bible stayed with me I realised that these types of studies don’t work as well for me. I say that because shortly after reconnecting with my faith I started to do an online study which would take me through the Bible in a year, yet after a couple of months I found myself doing them to keep up but not really taking it in because again I was being told what the scripture meant.
But it was then, on several Christian blogs, I found mention of the SOAP Bible Study method and I have to say that right now I am a huge fan of using the SOAP Bible Study Method, although in my case I add a P before the SOAP, as in prayer to open my mind and heart to what God wants me to learn and remember.
Now SOAP is not complicated but it puts you in the driving seat when it comes to studying the Bible, allowing you to progress as you want and when you want. Although trust me as when you start doing it there is a chance you will find yourself wanting to spend more and more time studying your Bible which is a great thing. SO let me break this down into the letters for you:
S – Stands for scripture, simple right. But then there is the other write and you should write out the scripture which you are studying. Yes I am talking about pen, paper and putting in some effort as there is something about physically writing out the scripture yourself which helps to commit them to your mind, especially when we live in a world where everything is instant. When you take that time to write out the scripture it causes you to slow down and think about the words.
O – Back with the pen and paper and write down what you observe from the scripture, this can be long flowing sentences or a series of bullet points, which ever works for you. Those observations can range from it being a direct lesson from the lips of Jesus to an account of an act of obedience in the Old Testament. Think about how the words flow and how they make you feel, look up phrases which may not be familiar to you, yes reading the bible will expand your vocabulary.
Try visualising what you are reading and noting down what you observe from what you are picturing. For example in the account of the Walls of Jericho I picture how frightened and intimidated the inhabitants must have been, waiting and wondering what was going to happen each day as the men marched past. Maybe you will need to spend some time thinking about the scripture, re-reading it a few times, even coming back to it later in the day after pondering it as slowly, like a chain effect, you begin to discover the depth of the teaching.
A – A is not for App in this case but for good old fashioned practical application. So take some time to think about what you have observed, what the lessons are and how it applies to your life as a Christian, how you can use it now.
P – Whilst I start each study with a prayer SOAP also ends with prayer as we thank God for his word, for the understanding he has given us and asking him to help us as we set about applying what we have learned from the scripture. And if you didn’t feel like you learned anything from the scripture ask him to reveal it to you when the time is right as some times there are things we don’t need to know and understand right away.
Using SOAP has helped me no end to fall in love with reading the bible in a way I never experienced before and have days where all I want to do is keep on reading and studying. Whilst there are days where just a couple of lines of scripture put me on hold, as if there is something that God wants me to understand and I need to spend time through out the day just meditating on what that is. And yes there are days when a piece of scripture doesn’t reveal anything to me right then but days and even weeks later I get an “Oh, I get it” moment. But by using the SOAP method of bible study I am getting so much more out of the Bible and understanding how the scripture applies to my life today.