The S.O.A.P. method has been around for a long time. I do not know who came up with it but it is a WONDERFUL way to study God's Word. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who want to have a deeper understanding of the scriptures.
S.O.A.P. is an acronym for Scripture(s) Observation Application Prayer. I will explain each letter in detail and then provide an example in this post of what a study might look like using this method. Please let me know if you use this method and what you think about it. My email is on the sidebar or you can leave comments on my YouTube video link. Let's begin.
The Bible study starts out with a scripture of your choice. Simply find the passage you want to study and write it out in a notebook. This can be your favorite Bible verse, a passage of scriptures, or even longer. The fewer verses, the better, in my opinion. The fewer scriptures you are looking at, the easier it becomes to truly pull everything you can from those passages, but I have some pretty lengthy studies in my notebook. I highly recommend you start out in prayer over where the Holy Spirit would lead you in the Word of God. If you have trouble knowing where to start, you can always look online at www.biblegateway.com to search a particular topic or phrase and it will find scriptures related to that search. This resource is particularly helpful if you want to cross-reference different versions of the Bible because you can select the version you want and even do side-by-side comparisons. If you follow my Bible studies on my YouTube channel or here on the blog, then you know by now that I truly love the King James Version.
Observation is the next part of the study. You are looking back at the scriptures you have chosen and you want to pull out the things you are observing that is taking place. Look for things like location, people, scenery, who is talking, who is the audience, what is the main theme. Ask questions here about what you are reading. Is this in the New Testament? Old Testament? Are there words you do not know the meaning of? Look them up and use this section to define those words. Perhaps you have a study Bible or something with a commentary, you might look at what your study resource is saying about that subject and write it down. If anything in particular stands out to you, write it down.
Please do not misunderstand me. The Bible is of no private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. So just like the men who wrote these books of the Bible were not just writing a bunch of their opinions and thoughts on how to live a life that pleases God, we are not to take bits and pieces that we like from the Word of God and twist the scriptures to fit our lifestyle. Rather, we are to conform to the Word of God.
To wrap up the study, you will write out a prayer. Perhaps you are thanking God for the new knowledge and wisdom He has imparted to you about a particular scripture. Maybe you are asking for guidance to truly apply what you have observed. This is very individualized. I will give an example of a prayer I might use but I do not write the same prayer for any study I do. Each time is a new prayer because I am speaking to my Heavenly Father about a new subject, a new study, a new area, or whatever in my life that I want to share with Him. I highly recommend you do not skip this part. It will be invaluable in your learning process.
I have read back through my Bible study notebook and I look at how much I have learned from the scriptures, what was gleaned from the passages. It's amazing how much the Holy Ghost has revealed to me in these times of study. I also read the applications again and see where I might need to revisit some of those areas and continue working. Other times I see how far I have come. ALWAYS the prayer part is inspiring and encouraging as I see the hand of God moving in ways I had truly forgotten. I look back and see prayer after prayer that He has answered and it encourages me to keep on going for Jesus!
Scripture: ROMANS 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Observation: This passage is referring to suffering that we must go through while we are on the earth. I have had a lot of trials and tribulations in my life. Sometimes it felt like it would never end. I am in college right now, in a program that is extremely difficult, and it feels like the struggles consume me at times. Yet, I am reminded here that these troubles and problems will not even be worth comparing to what God has prepared for us after we go Home to be with Him. We will not look back at the trials or hard times and remember them anymore. The reward will be far greater than the sacrifice and hard times we have now. This is true of the career I am in. I know that once the struggles and hard times of studying, testing, showing, proving, and trying of my skills and abilities is all over I will be where I wanted to be in this career path and I will not even dwell on the struggle to get me to that point. I won't forget how hard I worked to get there but I will be so full of joy that I made it through that it will not even be worth comparing to what I had to endure to make it.
Application: I am going to make an effort to look at the joy before me and while I go through the suffering remember that better days and brighter times are coming my way. I will choose to ask God for grace and mercy as I struggle and persevere in this life and continue to thank Him that Heaven is in view and I am going to make it! No struggle on the earth will ever be worth comparing to what He has in store for me. I will remind myself to keep going through the pain, because there are rewards on earth as well when we do not give up.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You! Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for instructing me today that I am not alone. These trials and struggles are not new. The men of old in the Bible times and even since sin entered the world have struggled with things to overcome or forge through. Lord, thank You that there are temporary rewards here on earth that make the struggles a little easier to get through. And Father, thank You that You are preparing a great and wonderful, glorious event to celebrate that Your children have made it Home. I am so eager to go Home Lord, but I know I must wait a little while longer. Give me grace, mercy, and compassion for myself and those all around me Lord, as we struggle through the suffering in this present time. Keep our hearts stirred up about the glory which shall be revealed in us so we can continue to long for Home and keep striving to enter in. I bless Your Holy Name Lord JESUS! AMEN
I hope that this has been helpful for someone. I enjoy this method a lot. If you would rather see a video tutorial on this subject, for those who are visual learners, I will share the video below. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with me. God bless you!!