It shouldn't be a surprise to learn my favorite way to study the Bible is by using a method called SOAP. It's a simple to remember acronym that does what it implies when used regularly. It refreshes the soul, and leaves you with a fresh perspective on whatever may have been troubling you. To learn how it's done keep reading.
What does SOAP stand for?
Scripture. Observation. Application. and Prayer. I like to include practice in my version of SOAP. If you don't act on the things you learned, you are wasting your time. That applies to everything in life, but when it comes to the word of God- Faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
An Acronym Digested
Find a passage from the Bible that resonates with you. I suggest you use a passage instead of a single bible verse because understanding the context will help you during the next step.
3 ways to find the right passage:
1. Flip through + Point
Every now and again people like to test the universe and God. If you are in this frame of mind, randomly select a Bible verse and read the surrounding text. The Bible is said to be the living word, and based on my experience it is. All this means is it can seem like messages are popping up out of nowhere. Go with the flow, stick with that verse. Most likely it's exactly what you need.
2. Use your Bible's concordance
A Bible's concordance is similar to a glossary and is typically found in the back of the Bible. The section is organized by theme in alphabetical order. This is a useful tool when you would like to reflect on a specific issue or emotion. For instance, you may be feeling resentful, or angry. The concordance will list the bible verses that address this condition. You can also use an app to help in your search. If you need help finding the right app for you, read my article 5 Bible Apps for Beginners. I go into detail about which apps would be best for searches when studying and more.
3. A Devotional or Bible Study Resource
These options are binding. I say this because more often than not they require you invest a certain amount of time to studying a certain topic. This time frame typically ranges from 3 days to a year or more. If you should find yourself in a situation where you have committed to, or come in contact with a program you cannot commit to fully use SOAP instead. Skip the authors questions and focus on the scripture. Believe me, you've already been forgiven, so don't worry about it.
*Side note- If you are in a group of holier than thou Christians that try and make you feel bad about this remember it's your journey. I'm pretty strict on my belief that everyone is different. You may never be the type of person who completes a bible study. So what? Did you know God is a spirit, and omnipresent. You can have the grace of God whenever and however he decides to give it to you. Using SOAP regularly helps you remember that (James 1:26, James 4:11).
Once you've decided on your scripture, it's time to read it and analyze the passages. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask:
Who is speaking and to whom?.
Who does this passage remind me of in my own life?
What's happening in the scene?
What decisions are being made?
When did this take place?
What happened before this scene?
Are the characters on a mission? If so, where are they going and why?
When has something like this happened to me?
Why is the biblical character responding to the situation with certain behaviors?
Why is this in the Bible?
Where can you see God's influence in the scripture?
Where is God asking you to consider his ways in your life?
How did this situation get so bad, or good?
How are the characters choosing to move forward?
How do the characters feel about God and his influence?
Reflect on all of the personal questions above to create even more. What can you learn from what you have just read? Results vary and you never know what you'll get at this step. Sometimes scripture will provide validation, at other times it will challenge us to do better. You can mindfully contemplate ways to apply scripture to your life, or you jot your thoughts down in a journal.
This is highly personal, and though there are structured ways of praying, you don't need to know them to begin having a conversation with God. In the beginning stages rely heavily on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what activates a superhero's power, but for humans (Acts 1:8).
I'm not just saying this because it's a cliche and because religious people enjoy name dropping the Holy Spirit. I'm offering you this piece of advice because having a conversation with what can seem like thin air is difficult. The chances are high you will not know what to say, but scripture tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and communicates what we do not have the words to verbalize (Roman 8:26).
Pay attention to what happens during and after prayer. If you get the feeling you should take action in a particular direction, and can verify it's validity in the Bible do so in faith. As I said before, this is ultimately your journey. Not much can be said here other than my assuring you the word of God will never steer you wrong when taken in context.
SOAP is awesome! I still use it regularly as a quick reset during my bible study sessions. It has been a delight to share my fav with you today. I hope it will propel you into a relationship with God you never knew was possible. Until next time - God Bless.
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