In the early days of my nursing career we hand wrote our nurse’s notes using the S.O.A.P. note format. This was tedious at times but writing by hand, using the S.O.A.P. note system, helped me focus (and reflect) in the middle of a hectic hospital environment.
While things are usually quiet during my Bible study time, I find that my own mind can be pretty darn noisy. So, for me, the S.O.A.P. system is still quite effective.
Here is how it is applied to Bible study:
S– The S stands for Scripture. I begin my S.O.A.P. Bible study by doing my daily Bible reading. I use the One Year Bible for Women but any Bible reading plan will work. Then I select a verse or passage (usually no more than 1 to 3 verses) that speaks to me and write or type it out!
For me, choosing verse and writing it out serves several important purposes.
- Selecting a single passage helps me hone in on what I need to hear most.
- Copying the passsage helps me slow down and think about what I’m reading.
- Recording these daily passages can show important spiritual trends.
O– The O stands for observation. In this step try asking yourself what stands out to you in the Scripture you have written out? Do certain words jump out at you? Is there a repetition of words? If so, is God emphasizing something? Is a promise being made or a specific teaching given? What does what this verse tell you about God? What is the context? Who is the audience? If you have a study Bible and there are notes on your verse, what do they say?
In this step I write down whatever comes to mind. I find that even on mornings I don’t feel like doing it, inspiration comes.
A– The A stands for Application. This is where we remind myself that the Bible is God’s personal communication to us! Ask yourself, what is God saying to me today? Why do I need to hear it? Is this the first time I’m hearing it or is it repeating other scripture I’ve have recently read? How can I apply this scripture to my life? Is there an action that I need to take? What changes are called for? If the verse is a promise, what can I do to increase my faith and believe in it?
Sometimes, I find that I need to write my way to knowing what that application is. Sometimes I end up adding things to my to-do list. Often I feel as if God is speaking directly to me.
P– And finally P stands for Prayer. This is where we take a few minutes (or more) to pray. I always begin with thanksgiving. If any sins that have been called up in any point in my study, I confess them. Then I pray part of all of the passage into my life or into the life of anyone for whom I feel it is intended. I close by asking God to help me live out whatever application I feel called to. When I’m finished I jot down anything I need to remember or do.
How the S.O.A.P. Bible study works for me. Sometimes I spend a relatively short time doing my S.O.A.P. Bible study. Sometimes it takes a while.
This is my first year of systematic Bible study and so far the S.O.A.P. method is yielding real insights as well as giving me a lot of new scriptures to include in my prayers. I think it will be interesting to look at my S.O.A.P. note record next year and trace the effect that Scripture has had in my life.
*For more on praying with scripture please click here.
*To read my Daily Scripture S.O.A.P. notes beginning with today’s passage please click here.