As a student I was never great at studying. I was an average student who could’ve been more had I learned and practiced better studying skills. I usually memorized information long enough for a test and then it was dumped out of my brain. I don’t write this with pride in the type of student I was. In fact, I wish I had been better. My husband is an extremely smart man. He is inquisitive and likes to learn new things. My daughter is already very similar to him in this regard and I pray she stays that way. For many years I had this same struggle in studying my Bible. I would hear the importance of not just reading the Bible, but really studying it. I may be wrong, but I think many Christians struggle with how to study the Bible. There are many techniques you can use and I’m sure you can use a search engine to find other ways, but a few years ago I was introduced to a study method that I would like to share with you.
First, I want to say that it doesn’t really matter where you start reading. I have been asked the question, “where is the best place to start reading your Bible?” There are so many answers to that. There are reading plans you can use to read through the Bible in a year. Some Bibles even have different reading plans in the back. If you are in a month with thirty-one days, Proverbs is a great book because it has thirty-one chapters and you can read a chapter a day. James is a good book to start with. It’s short, but it also has so much information about living the Christian life. You can start with reading the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You can even start with Genesis. There is no right or wrong place to start, just start.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Studying God’s word is more than just a thing to check off your list, it is what guides the Christian life. It’s our instruction manual for life, our way to know more about who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. It directs our path. It keeps us straight when the world is crooked.
It is possible that some of you have heard of this method before, but there may be some of you who have never heard of it. Either way I encourage you to try it. The method is called SOAP.
S – Scripture. While you are reading there may be a verse or two that really sticks out to you. Write the scripture down and use this scripture for the rest of the method.
O- Observation. What do you observe in the verses you wrote down? Who, What, Where, Why? Answer these questions about the verse/verses you wrote down.
A-Application. How does this or how can you apply this to your life?
P- Prayer. Pray through the verses you wrote down. Ask God to help you apply this to your life or show you ways you can.
It can be very simple to use this method. And, like I said, there are plenty of other methods you might like better. This is one I have used and find helpful when studying God’s word.
“Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” John 17:17
“But the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:25
“Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89
If you have a study Bible, you already have a great asset. There are footnotes that give you information about each verse. I have really grown to love the footnotes and the cross-references to other verses. The beginning of each book is information about the history of what was going on when that book was written as well as information about the author. Use the tool you have been given.
If you don’t have a study Bible, you can still study with great depth. All we really need is the Holy Spirit to study God’s Word. He will point things out to you and speak to you if you ask Him to.
In John 16:12-13, Jesus said this about the Spirit, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come.”
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Ephesians 1:17
My prayer for all of us is that we will study God’s word and by doing so we will crave Him more. That we will be given a Spirit of wisdom and revelation as we study God’s word. We will want to know more about the God we claim to love. The more we read and study the more we want to read and study. That through His word we will be transformed and become more and more like Jesus.