The Bible is the most important means by which the Lord speaks to us. If we simply read it as a book, we may miss His voice. But if we read it with our heart, paying attention to the deep impressions within, we can sense His gentle, convicting and equipping voice, showing us the way, the truth, the life. The SOAP method is an acronym for a helpful way of reading the Bible with the Lord.
You will need a Bible (a study Bible may be helpful), a pen and a lined notebook. Find a quiet spot and spend a few moments ‘connecting’ with the Lord – reminding yourself that He is with you and that you are with Him.
S for Scripture: Write out the date and the Bible reading. Ask the Lord to help you hear Him speak, then read the passage. Highlight, underline or mark the words that stand out. If there is too much to reflect on, choose one verse that impacts you in a special way.
O for Observation: What does this passage or verse say? Why is it interesting, challenging or relevant? What questions do you have? What might some possible answers be? Summarize the main lessons, commands or truths in your own words. Write them out.
A for Application: Listen for what the Lord is saying to your heart. How does it connect to your life? Be specific! Is He teaching you something. Are you feeling convicted? Is there something that He is prompting you to do? Write it all out. Some passages will be easier to apply than others.
P for Prayer: Write out your response to what the Lord is saying to you in the form of a prayer. You may praise Him, confess to Him, thank Him, or ask Him to help you understand, believe or obey what He has taught you. What commitment are you being led to make?
If this seems a little overwhelming, take it slow and keep it simple. No matter how you decide to do your devotions, the important thing is to show up for your daily appointment, because the Lord is always waiting for you!