I found this interesting acronym while perusing bible study blogs. SOAP. Each of the letters pertain to making the bible more approachable and readable. It’s simple, which I like, and easy to remember. The best part of it all is it brings us to a place where we can understand and grow as we read the bible. This in turn helps us to understand and grow closer to God and that’s a good thing, right?
The bible is made up of 66 separate books written by 40 authors over thousands of years. That sounds a little daunting, but using the SOAP method can help us break it all down into easier pieces to handle.
All you need is a bible, your favorite writing tool (bonus points if you’re using a quill and ink set), a notebook or journal, some quiet time and hot coffee or tea. I guess you don’t need that last part, but I sure do!
As far as bibles go, I recommend the New Living Translation or New International Version, but grab whatever is on your shelf.
Here we go!
The S stands for Scripture.
Find what you’re interested in reading. If you like poetry and songs, then go through the Psalms. If you’re into finding out who Jesus is, then the first four books of the New Testament are for you. The early church is Acts and then letters of instruction and how to live as a Christian are Romans through 3 John.
Find a verse and write it down in the notebook. Writing it out helps us stay focused and we actually learn and remember when we write things down.
The O stands for Observation.
What stands out to you? Who’s speaking to who? Where and when was it written? It certainly helps to know what was written before and after the verse in order to understand the context. Is anything unusual or being repeated? What point do you think the author may be trying to make?
Write the obvious answers first. After some time, you may see some deeper meanings and you could write those as well. You can highlight or underline words or phrases or the entire verse if it helps.
The A stands for Application.
This is where you take the scripture and ask yourself how this applies to you. Do this in a practical, simple way. Write what speaks to you. This will sometimes challenge you, but that’s okay, challenges for the better are really good for us. You can ask God, “What does this mean to me? What am I supposed to do with this?” Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times we may not understand and that’s okay! We’re all in the same boat when it comes to God. Some of us are a little further ahead, but we’re all following Jesus (or thinking of following him) one step at a time.
The P is for Prayer.
After reading and writing, it’s time to pray. This is where we ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply what we’ve learned. If we read something that shows our faults, then this is a great time to confess those sins to him. If it’s something that challenges us, then we can ask him for encouragement. We want to invite him into our lives so he can change us. This is the whole point of being a Christian. It’s one thing to just believe and another to actually put into action what we learned. God wants us in the last category; But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only-James 1:22.
After all is said and done, it’s best to say “Thanks!” for what God has done, is doing, and wants to do in our lives.
SOAP is easy to use and will go a long way when we open our bibles. This is great to do on our own, but I hope you can find a good bible study and church where you can enjoy friendship and maturity as you grow as a believer.
Please share any bible study tools that help you read and understand the bible!