Hearing God’s Voice by Reading the Bible
The SOAP Method
The SOAP method is designed to help each one of us to hear God’s voice as we read the Bible. It is a practical way to tune into what God is saying to each one of us. The challenge is to take about 30 minutes of time a day to listen to what God is saying to you. S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.
Here are some guidelines:
- Read only 1 chapter a day. If you try to read more than one chapter in your 30 minute time period, your Bible reading may turn into just another thing to check off your list. Take that time to listen to what God is saying to you through his word. If you miss a chapter or two, don’t worry about it. You can always catch up later or read ahead in a time other than your 30 minutes a day.
- Don’t feel guilty if your miss a day or days. Just read the chapter for that day to hear what God is saying to you.
- Use the SOAP method for recording your observations. If you like, you can create a private journal online at soapstudy.com.
Scripture: Before you read, ask God to speak to you through his word. You are asking for one key idea each day. Then as you read the chapter of the day, note any verses that seem to jump out at you or seem to be important in that chapter. You may want to underline these verses or mark them in the margin of your Bible in some way. Now go back and re-read these verses that stood out to you. What grabs you the most? What verse(s) speaks to you about your life? Remember, you are looking for only one key idea. You may want to write out the verse at the top of the journal page.
Observation: Now observe carefully what that verse says. Note the context and the situation. How does this verse fit into the context of the chapter? Who were the people in this scene of the Bible and how were they affected? Why do you think this verse was included in this chapter? If you were one of the characters in the scene, how would you react? Now think about the key idea that that stood out to you in this Bible passage. Take several minutes to let this key idea soak in.
Application: Now begin to reflect on how this key idea applies to you. How do you plan to put this into practice this week? How will you be different today as a result of what you have just read? Without application all we are doing is amassing facts, trivia and bits of Bible knowledge. Application lies at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, not just a fan of Jesus.
Prayer: Write out a prayer that expresses your thoughts to God. You may want to ask for help in putting this into practice. You may want to thank him for speaking to you. You may appreciate the encouragement of his word. Just write out briefly what you want to say to God about this key idea of the day.
SAMPLE – 1 Corinthians 7
SCRIPTURE: This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35)
OBSERVATION: An undistracted devotion – that’s the highest devotion of all. It’s so easy to get distracted. So many things going on that filtering out unnecessary things seems to become more and more difficult… especially when the “unnecessaries” are marketed so well. Things that are good, but not strategic, nice but not eternal – these can take up the lion’s share of my life.
APPLICATION: The Bible tells me that devotion to God is something I must secure. Like locking up a bicycle so it won’t be stolen, or tying a boat to a dock so it won’t drift. In the same way, I must “secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” I cannot take this for granted. Not securing it invites both theft and drifting. Not securing my devotion to Jesus invites the enemy to steal it.
I not only must make my Quiet Time with God a habit but I also must guard that time. I must not allow appointments or busy days to steal my devotions.
And looking at devotion in the larger sense, I must not let anything cause me to compromise or let down my guard. My devotion to Christ cannot be distracted by what this chapter (1 Cor. 7) tells me about, sexuality, emotional affairs, or anything of that nature. I become devoted to my wife, and consistent in my times before God, by filtering and pruning constantly anything not eternally fruitful. In doing so, I secure undistracted devotion.
PRAYER: Lord help me to guard my time with you. It’s so easy to let an appointment or even a ministry activity take its place. Thank you for reminding me often.
For more on the SOAP method see Wayne Cordeiro's book, The Divine Mentor.
For additional information on the Learning Circle, see Mike Breen's book Building a Discipling Culture, pp. 55-66.