Ever heard of the acronym SOAP? Or heard people say, “I SOAPed this morning”?
Well, SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer, and it’s a method of recording and processing what God is saying to you as you read his Word daily and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
More commonly known as Bible study, its ultimate purpose is the same as the purpose for all Christians: being a disciple and making disciples.
A discipleship system is dependent on the disciples within that system, so to make disciples you must be a disciple. This is way more than just saying you had an experience with Jesus Christ: There must be evidence that you are following him.
Disciples are not defined by what they know but by what they do and how they live. First John 2:3 says, “And hereby we know that we know him if we keep his commandments.” We have been commanded to “make disciples” and to be obedient to that command we must make sure we’re following Jesus.
Following Jesus requires developing daily habits, one of them being Bible study which includes quiet time with the Lord in prayer. After selecting a book of the Bible you’d like to study, begin SOAPing by following these four steps:
Select a book in the Bible and read a chapter each day, all the while asking God to draw your attention to one or two verses that speak to you and stand out the most. Write out that verse/verses in your journal. Take time, slow down, listen to God, then let him speak to your heart.
Record your observations in a journal. What is God saying to you in this scripture? Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you and show you what he has for you that day. As you read God’s Word look for commands to obey, sins to confess, or promises to claim then rewrite the scripture in your own words. You may want to look up the verses in a commentary to reflect upon them.
The Word of God is not just a book to be read; it is a book to be obeyed. Following Jesus requires obedience, and without it we cannot claim to be his disciples. Application is personalizing what you’ve read by determining how it applies to your life: What action do I need to take? Write down how the verse/verses apply today. In John 14:15 Jesus defines following him this way: ”If you love me, keep my commandments.” Show your commitment to doing so by beginning each statement with “I will.”
Write out your prayer by asking God to help you use this scripture or gain a greater insight into what he is revealing to you. Prayer is a two-way conversation, so listen to what God has to say. Write out your prayer of obedience to what he has shown you in his Word, trusting him to help you live it out in your life daily.
So there you have it: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. It does work and it will work as you trust the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.
To help others follow Jesus, first make sure you are following him. This personal discipleship strategy is an excellent daily tool you can later reflect on and review some of the “gems” God has given you. If they’re not written down you are more prone to forget those blessings and lessons he has revealed to you. Journaling is a very personal time between you and the Lord , but you may want to share some of your daily reflections with a friend, a small group, your mentor, or someone you are mentoring.
Skill #1 in making disciples is following Jesus. Skill number #2 is helping others follow Jesus. Discussing with friends what God is showing you enables you to look deeper into what God is saying, to gain insight and to be an encouragement to others.
To continue this disciple making process, share the SOAP journaling method with others, invite them to journal the same book of the Bible, then meet weekly to share what God is saying. Discipleship takes discipline and obedience. Follow Jesus first then help others to follow him!
Wayne Cordeiro says this about the SOAP method: “Reading God’s Word may not change you in a day, but reading it daily will change you!”