Note: Both reading guides can be used with any Bible reading plan. There are a variety of Bible reading plans available. Here’s a couple of online resources: BibleYear.com or Bible Gateway.
The S.O.A.P Method for Bible Reading
S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. It’s a great way to delve more deeply into your Bible reading, and record your thoughts, emotions and connections when studying scripture. S.O.A.P. is designed to be used with a journal along with your regular Bible reading, using the process as you read each day. It can also be an effective tool to help you connect with particular passages.
Things You’ll Need: Bible, paper or journal, pen
Step 1: Find a quiet time and space to read your Bible, preferably at the same time each day. Many people find that reading scripture in the morning helps get their day off to a focused start.
Step 2: Complete the “S” by reading the scripture. Don’t just skim through it, but really think about what it means. Imagine what the people involved were experiencing. Write down a verse or two that really stood out to you in your journal.
Step 3: Complete the “O” by writing down observations about the scripture you just read. You may want to write your own summary of the passage, but more importantly, think about what God has to say to you through this part of his word.
Step 4: Complete the “A” by writing down how this Bible passage applies to you right now, in your daily life. For example, in the parable about the prodigal son, which character do you identify with most: the loving and merciful father, the son who squanders his life and then repents, or the resentful older brother? Do you see similar situations in your life right now? How can you respond in the way Jesus taught?
Step 5: Complete the “P” by writing down a prayer. This is a personal message from you to God, so don’t worry about getting the perfect words down. Just make it honest and heartfelt. Remember that God always listens and already knows your needs. He just wants to hear from you.
The Devotional Method of Bible Study
Before getting started, here are some helpful hints to assist you on your devotional journey:
1) Set a time and place for your study each day,
2) Block out as many distractions as possible, and
3) Bring your Bible, a notebook, a pen, and your Bible reading plan.
1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you as you study God’s Word.
2. Read the Scripture designated for the day with expectation.
3. Meditate on what you have read. Meditation is thought digestion. After reading the passages for the day, ask yourself three questions:
– What does this passage teach me about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
– What does this passage teach me about living the Christian life? Is there a command to follow, a warning to heed, a promise to believe, or an example to follow?
– Of all that you have read and meditated on, what is the Holy Spirit saying to you in this moment?
4. Write down in your journal what God is speaking to you and how will you apply this to your life?
5. Pray for strength and commitment to live this out today.