How do I do this?
Get a modern translation Bible, and a small notebook or journal. Set aside 10-20 minutes at the time of day that works best for you. Whether it’s morning, nighttime, or during lunch, it helps if you do your reading at the same time everyday. Read the passage for the day, reflect on it, and record what God says to you. The S-O-A-P method is an excellent way to process what you’re reading. People have told me that this method of reflecting on Scripture has made a huge difference in their spiritual growth.
What if I don’t understand something I read?
Don’t freak out. Even long-time Christians and seasoned Bible scholars don’t understand everything the Bible says. Writing about Paul's letters, the Apostle Peter said, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand…” (2 Peter 3:16). Maybe Peter was talking about some of the stuff in 1 and 2 Corinthians!
One way to deal with things you don’t understand is to give your questions to God in prayer – and then get busy with what you do understand. Obedience often leads to greater understanding.
In addition, you might invest in a one-volume study bible with notes that shed light on difficult passages. The NIV Study Bible and the NLT Life Application Bible are popular choices.
What if I get behind?
Saturday and Sunday are designed as “catch-up” days. But if you get several days to a week behind, it’s better not to try and catch up. Instead, start reading again on the day everyone else is on.
Do I really have to write in a journal?
People who use the SOAP method have found that this journaling process makes the Bible come alive for them. These folks would tell you that writing in a journal is key to hearing God speak to you in the Scriptures. But if you honestly don't have time to do that, I'd rather you just do the reading than do nothing at all.
So, what is this “SOAP method” you keep talking about?
SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Here’s how it works:
- You sit down with your Bible, your notebook, your pen, and your cup of coffee if you’re into that sort of thing.
- You pray that God will speak to you as you read His Word.
- You open your Bible to the passage for the day. You read it—slowly, carefully, prayerfully.
- As you read, something will jump out at you. It might be a verse or two, a phrase, or even just a word. This is your “S.” Copy it down into your notebook.
- Now write down why this verse or phrase caught your attention. That’s your “O”—your observations about the Scripture—what you noticed—what you observed.
- “A” stands for application. What is God calling you to do with this new insight? Be specific.
- Now, “P”: Write a prayer asking God to empower you to carry out what He’s calling you to do. Pray for other needs and concerns while you’re at it. And don’t forget to spend a few moments thanking God as well!
How could I learn more about the history and background of 1 and 2 Corinthians?