How to Study the Bible-The S.O.A.P vs. W.O.R.D Method
There seems to be a myriad of ways to study the Bible. There is the SOAK Method, then there's the Coding Method, and there's even a REST Method. All of these methods are amazing and useful for studying the Bible. But today I would like to explore two of the more popular and effective ways of studying the Bible, the SOAP Method and the WORD Method.
Both the SOAP and WORD Methods are simple, yet effective ways to study the Bible, especially if you have trouble organizing and gathering your thoughts like me (it's okay do not be ashamed). Whether you are highly organized or dabble in a level of organized chaos, I highly recommend that you use these methods when studying your Bible.
Disclaimer...I am not an advocate for one method over the other. I am here to simply outline and highlight the attributes and characteristics of each method, and give you useful examples of how to use them. What I can say is no matter which method or methods you decide to use (because you might decide to use both), remember Bible study should be about developing a deeper and more robust understanding of God's word.
Bible study should be a very intimate and delightful process, which brings one closer to Christ. In other words, Bible study should not be a daunting and stressful process, one in which you bang your head against a wall (or perhaps a fridge for my more unorthodox friends), and certainly you should not spend time pondering over which Bible study method to use. Therefore, I am going to list the two methods that I like to utilize.
Ultimately, my best advice is to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you through the process.
Okay so without further ado, let's get started....
THE SOAP METHOD
SOAP is an acronym, which stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. The SOAP Method is an outstanding method, for it easily outlines the most potent elements and/or parts of studying the Bible . The following is an outline of the different parts of SOAP.
S- Scripture- During the fist part of SOAP, you should ask yourself the question, which scripture stands out to me? After reading the scripture, write it down and memorize it.
Before I open my Bible I like to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me to a scripture, unless I am following a group or church- wide Bible study schedule.
O- Observations- The second part of SOAP is your time to make key observations regarding the context of the verse, and observations about the character of the different people in the scripture. The following are some questions you may ask during this time:
What is happening in this verse?
When and where did this event take place?
What is the theme of this scripture?
What lesson is God trying to make in this verse?
Essentially, this is the part, in which you stop and think about the lesson that God is trying to teach you.
A-Application- The application portion of Bible study is the time to ask the question, are there any changes I need to make to my life after reading this scripture? Hence, you should personalize the verses and ask yourself very important questions such as what is God saying to me through the verse(s)? In essence,this is when you should being to write down how you can apply what you've learned. This involves you being transparent about where you are in your life.
P-Prayer-Last, but certainly not least is prayer.This will be the time in which you take time out to pray and praise God for His word. Additionally, you should pray the passages of scripture over yourself, your family and the people in your life.
Now I know that might have sounded like a lot; however, quite the contrary the SOAP method is quite simple!
Below I have incorporated an example of how to use the SOAP method.
Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; follow her back home.” But Ruth replied:“Do not urge me to leave you or to turn from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live;your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. -Ruth 1:15-16
This scripture takes place after Ruth's husband dies. The intensity of her feelings come out all the more strongly after the death of her husband. Essentially, in this verse Ruth is saying, "I will undertake with thee the toilsome journey," In this verse Ruth is willing to venture with her mother-in-law Naomi among a new people, and, most importantly, Ruth is willing to worship a new god, because she is loyal to Naomi.
Ruth's nobleness is proof against all.This verse speaks of loyalty,love, dedication, courage, and hope. These are all the qualities that God has and wants to instill in His children.
God is faithful and loyal. Hence, I have to always remember that no matter what I'm going through, I know that God has my back. He will never leave me nor forsake me. Thus, if He is asking me to more on or to keep going it's because He knows what is best for me. Ultimately, I must move on like Ruth, and trust God along the journey.
Thank you for your loyalty and guidance. Your word says, that if I trust in you, you will guide me. (Proverbs 3:5-6).Therefore, God I ask that you lead me to the people and places that will bring forth Your glory. Please guide my steps. And Father, like Ruth, I pray that you give me a relentless, intrepid, and loving heart, so that I may go forth to do Your perfect and pleasing will.
In Jesus name, Amen.
THE WORD METHOD
Now that we have covered the SOAP Method, let us briefly talk about the WORD method. The acronym WORD stands for write down, observe, relevant, and declare. Like the SOAP method the first three parts of the WORD method involves writing down the scripture, making an observation of the scripture, and reflecting and applying the scripture to your life. The biggest difference between the SOAP and the WORD method, is the last part-Declare.
During the declare portion you are to declare and pray the passage over your life. Some journaling prompts to consider during this portion of the Bible study are:
Declare the changes that you will make based on how the verse spoke to you and;
Declare the promises of the verse over your life
In combination, prayer and declarations can be a powerful way to both request and explicitly proclaim blessings over your life.
In the end, when these methods are used in conjunction with the power of the Holy Spirit both the SOAP and WORD Methods can be very effective ways to read, digest, and apply the Word of God.
For a quick reference, feel free to print out the following chart and use it as a Bible Study guide as you study the Bible.
Download your free SOAP versus WORD Bible Study Guide here.
Click Here to download a free copy of the SOAP Bible Study Worksheet
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