What is S.O.A.P?
S – Scripture
Write down the Bible passage you’ll be studying. This can be one verse or several. I’ve found that writing helps me focus on each word individually and on the passage as a whole. It also helps me soak it in and meditate on it.
(And for those who have short attention spans […squirel!] this really helps hone our focus on the task of studying Scripture instead of looking at the cobwebs in our kitchen. Ahem. Not that I would know…)
O – Observations
Examine the text and write down what you notice.
What jumps out to you in the passage?
Who is it written by? Who is it written to?
What’s one thing you didn’t notice before?
What seems interesting or unusual?
What comes before and after the text?
Is there repetition, comparison, or contrast?
These observations may start with the obvious (i.e., Jesus spent time with his disciples), but will gradually become deeper.
A – Applications
Apply God’s Word to your life in a practical way. This is the part where you personalize your study of Scripture. As you read over the text, how does it apply to you? Is there a specific action you need to take or a confession you need to make?
If it’s an action, try to make it SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
P – Prayer
Respond to God’s Word with your own words. Accumulating head knowledge about God is of little use; it’s heart transformation He’s after, and that’s only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Pray that the seed (the Scripture you just studied) falls on good soil in your heart so that it will take root and produce fruit. Praise God for His attributes revealed in the passage. Confess any sin that has come to light during this time of studying.
Thank Him for His Word and His care. And ask the Holy Spirit to continue growing you into a disciple of Jesus.