When I first became a christian, I was about twelve, one of my biggest concerns was “how to study the Bible”. I didn’t understand the mechanics of it all. Like was I just supposed to pray and the Holy Spirit would tell me what scripture to turn to? Or should I just sit with my Bible in my hands, turn it over on the spine and let it fall open, and then whatever scripture it landed on was supposed to be my focus for the day?
Should I use a devotional guide? But then if I use a devotional guide, should I only focus on the exhortation that’s presented or should I go in deeper on my own?
You see the conundrum, right? I was so confused. To make matters worse, every time I would ask someone else who I figured had been a christian much longer than me and probably knew how to go about doing this, they’d just tell me to “pray and ask God”, “open the Bible and just start”, “do it like you study your textbooks”. As you can imagine, that wasn’t very helpful.
For years, this was such a struggle, and when I say years I literally mean years, like almost a decade. Then one day I was on Pinterest and I saw something that made a light bulb go off. I realized then that we often make things too complicated or overly spiritual.
Studying the Bible is much more simple than we make it out. There are four easy steps you can follow.
Pick your scripture. The best way I’ve found to do is to focus on one book at a time. So, for instance, you can choose the book of Ephesians to start with. You go through the book chapter by chapter, focusing on a few scriptures at a time. It’s a great practice to use a journal to keep your study notes in. You can also decide to go through the Bible from the beginning (Genesis to Revelation). I know a lot of people do it this way.
I just decided to start on the books of the New Testament, because in many ways I find them a little easier to understand and connect with. But that’s just me.
This step is where you note all the observations that you make in the passage. Who is speaking? Who are they speaking to? What is the context of the conversation, parable or story? What would you say is the lesson of the passage?
If something stands out to you, you can make a note of it. If you find something interesting, you make a note of it. If something resonates with you, or reminds you of yourself, you make a note of it. A good practice is also to rewrite the passage in your own words, this makes grasping the concept so much easier.
This part is one of the most important steps. It’s where we allow the ord of God to change us; change our behaviours, attitudes, mindsets, etc. Its application step. How can you apply the lessons you’ve learnt in this passage to your own life? Do you notice any traits from this passage that apply to you? Do you need to do something or stop doing something?
Apply what you’ve learned. It’s a good idea to write down practical ways in which you apply these lessons ad to revisit them frequently to track your progress.
Now you pray. Because as much as we observe and make notes for application, it’s only God – through the Holy Spirit – that can change our hearts. So using what you’ve learnt, approach God in earnest prayer. Asking to change the things that need to be changed or to remove the things that need to be removed. If you need further clarification, ask him to send confirmation. Visit my blog post 6 Ways God Speaks to Us Today to learn more about this.
So those are the four easy steps I’ve been using and you can adapt to study the bible more efficiently. The bible study game has really changed for me ever since I started using these four steps and the acronym is so easy to remember, I wish I knew who came up with it initially.
If you’d like to see a post where I do an example Bibe Study using the SOAP method, comment down below. You can also drop passage suggestions, and I may just use one of those for the example.
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