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When I meditate on God’s Word, I try to get an in-depth understanding of the passage by memorizing scriptures and referring to different versions of the scripture. I believe that applying God’s Word to our lives should be the end goal of every Bible study.
One of the most effective ways to dig deep into the meaning of Bible verses is through the SOAP Bible study method.
In this article, I will talk about the SOAP method in detail along with an example of how to use this method. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to study the Bible in-depth and meditate on the Word of God.
What is the SOAP Bible Study Method?
The SOAP Bible study method is one of the highly effective ways to study the scripture. SOAP is an acronym that stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.
This method involves breaking down the Bible study into different steps to get an in-depth understanding of the chosen passage. It is suitable for both individual Bible studies and group Bible studies.
You can use the SOAP method to study any scripture, a set of verses, or even a daily devotional. Below I will explain how to use the SOAP study method.
SOAP Bible Study Method Printable
I created this SOAP Bible study method printable so you can use it during your SOAP study time. It’s completely free to download. Just click this SOAP Bible study printable link to get your free PDF.
SOAP Bible Study Method Explained
Before you begin, select a short Bible passage that stands on its own. You can select a random set of verses, the Bible passage chosen from church service, or the scripture from your daily devotional.
Each letter of SOAP stands for different steps of the Bible study.
S – Scripture
O – Observation
A – Application
P – Prayer
Let’s break down each part of the S.O.A.P method so you will have a full understanding of how to use each step during your Bible study.
Once you select a passage, read it several times with careful and undivided attention. Reading the passage in different Bible versions is an excellent way to gain a comprehensive understanding.
Now write one to three verses from the passage that stood out to you while reading. Note that you have to write the verses by hand! Handwriting activates our brain and boosts our memory, making it easier for us to comprehend and remember the verses.
Once you write the verses, think of how you would explain the passage to another person. Rephrase and write the verses in your own words to make them more simple and more understandable. This is an effective way to evaluate whether or not you have understood the passage.
Observation is the second step in the SOAP Bible study method where you re-read the verses along with what you have written. Observe the passage closely and ask yourself the following questions.
- Who wrote the passage?
- What verses stand out to me?
- How does the passage change the way I live?
- What is the takeaway from the passage?
These are some of the ideas that will help you begin your observation. You can add any number of questions that come to you while you read the passage. The 5Ws is a good place to start – who, what, when, where, why.
Write down the questions along with their answers. Highlight the questions that stand out to you. If possible, read someone else’s interpretation of the scripture to gain a different perspective.
The application step in the SOAP method is where you personalize what you have learned. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is God trying to tell me through this passage?
- Are my actions in line with what I learned from this passage?
- How can I change my ways of life to walk closer with the Lord?
Write down the changes you want to make in your life to grow closer to God. Identify and write down the sinful actions in your life and remove them immediately. Spread the Word of God with your loved ones and share what you have learned.
Pray for wisdom and insight about your study session. Allow God to guide you in any direction and keep your mind open to new ideas and new perspectives.
Pray for guidance to apply what you have learned to your life. Thank Him for speaking to you and providing valuable spiritual insight. Submit your worries, fears, and plans before the Lord, and put your trust in Him with your whole heart.
A closing prayer is a great way to end the study time as you can thank Him for being with you throughout the session and reflect on what you have learned.
SOAP Bible Study Method Example
Now let me walk you through the SOAP Bible study method with the help of an example:
Proverbs 16:3 (ESV) – “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
Now that we have chosen the verse, let us move on to the first step in the SOAP study method.
Scripture – “Read The Verse”
Read the verse two or three times and refer to other Bible versions for a clearer understanding of the verse. Here is the same Bible verse from three different versions of the Bible.
ESV – Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
KJV – Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
NIV – Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Write out the verse in your notebook or on the free pdf above by hand. Rephrase the verse in your own words and write it in a way you would explain the verse to another person. In this example, a way of rephrasing Proverbs 16:3 would be:
“Whatever you do in life, submit your will before the Lord and our plans shall prosper”.
The key here is to write what you understood, regardless of whether you think it is right or not.
Observation – “Understand The Verse”
Read the verse and its explanation once again and ask yourself questions such as
- Who wrote the passage?
- What is the main takeaway from the passage?
- How does it change the way I live?
We know that Proverbs was written by Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. In this verse, he shares his wisdom with us by asking us to submit our desires before the Lord. Let us break the verse to understand it better.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do…”
Solomon is asking us to submit our will, desires, and plans before the Lord. He is not just referring to the difficult situations in our lives where we do not know what decision to take, but rather each and every aspect of our lives. Whatever we do, we should put our trust in Him and give Him full control of our lives. He is faithful and His timing is always right.
“And he will establish your plans…”
When we submit our plans before our Father, He will establish our plans. This does not mean all our desires will come true when we commit to God. When we allow Him to guide us in any direction, He will choose the right path for us and His plans will become our plans. Our Father wants the best for His children, so let go and let God handle it.
Application – “Apply The Verse”
Once you understand the true meaning of the Bible verse, think of how you can apply what you have learned to your life.
Have you submitted your plans before the Lord? Do you think of His will when you make decisions in your life?
To understand God’s will, pray for wisdom and meditate on His Word. By studying the Truth and letting God take full control of our lives, we can eventually understand His ways of thinking and what He would want us to do in different situations in our lives.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Prayer – “Ask For God’s Guidance”
Now that you understand the meaning of the Bible verse, end the study session with a prayer. Pray for His will to be done and ask for guidance to apply what you have learned to your life. Thank Him for speaking to you through His Word and for everything He has done for you.
Is the SOAP Bible Study Method Right For You?
No one knows the answer to that question better than you. In my experience, the SOAP method is one of the easiest and most effective methods to gain a thorough understanding of the Bible.
Be intentional about studying God’s Word and He will guide you into the best Bible study method for you. Sometimes, I don’t have enough time to dive into a SOAP study so I will study a reading plan. Commit to giving your time to the Lord and He will give you the desire to be in His Word.