Life Journaling with SOAP
Daily Bible reading starts as a discipline that can quickly become a delight.
It has great potential to change your life. When the power of God’s Word is applied to your life, you will grow and experience an intimacy with the Lord as you trust in His transforming work. You may want to begin by using this plan for a couple of months--to see how you like it. As you seek God and expect the Holy Spirit to teach, inspire and direct your steps, keep in mind that this tool is intended to serve you, not to make you feel guilty!
Also, remember that your goal is to worship God by hearing and obeying His voice. Worship the God of the Bible, not the Bible itself. If you miss a day, or a even few days, don’t go back and try to “catch up.” Just pick up with the current day’s reading. Feel free to adapt how you use this tool. But, most importantly, use it to develop a healthy habit of spending time with the Lord on a daily basis.
Here are few steps to get you started…
Step 1—Decide How Much to Read
A systematic Bible reading plan will aid you in developing the discipline and hunger for daily Bible reading and journaling. The Snack/Meal/Feast format gives you a choice of reading levels for each day of the year:
Snack—A brief Bible reading (5 minutes daily)
Meal—A more extensive reading (10-15 minutes daily)
Feast—A daily reading that will take you through the entire Bible in a year, including two times through the New Testament (15-20 minutes daily)
Step 2—Decide On a Time and Place
Develop as many routines as you can relating to your Bible reading. The routines give a sense of comfort to your commitment and help in the formation of a positive habit.
Choose a time of day to read.
Choose the best place available to read.
Have a plan for non-standard days or for traveling.
Remember that the goal isn’t to keep up with the plan—the goal is to spend time with God and allow Him to speak and interact with you through His Word every day, in order that you might “hide His Word in your heart that none of your steps would slide.”
Step 3—Bring These Items to Your Reading Place
Your Bible in a favorite translation
Your Bible reading plan
A pen/pencil/computer for journaling your thoughts
An open heart that desires to hear from God
- Your calendar to record thoughts that come into your mind while trying to concentrate on God’s Word
Step 4—Record What Jesus Speaks to You (SOAP)
When you have chosen your snack, meal or feast, begin your reading time by asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you from His Word. Record the date and prayerfully read the assigned passages. Then, begin journaling by using the SOAP method.
Now take a moment to look over all you have written and try to come up with a simple title that captures the essence of what the Lord spoke to you. Then, record the title in your Table of Contents, along with the date and Scripture reference. This summary of your key points will allow you to see themes from God’s direction throughout different seasons in your life.
The SOAP Method
Write down a verse or verses that seem to stand out to you from the day’s reading.
Write an observation of how these verses affected you or how God seemed to be speaking to you from His Word as you were reading.
Write one or more points describing how the passage applies to you and your situation. You may want to write some action points—how you intend to apply this to your life.
Write a brief prayer to God that expresses how you are feeling about the Scripture you just read.
SOAP with Small Groups...
Since many people may want to go through the same reading plan, you may consider going through it as a group, using a 20-20-20 format. Here is how to do that:
Your group would spend the first 20 minutes reading from the day’s assignment, the next 20 minutes journaling (using the acrostic SOAP) and, finally, the last 20 minutes sharing what was written. This is a great tool for friends, mentors, couples or small groups.
Even if you haven’t formed a group, you may consider taking time to share with someone about what the Lord is speaking to you. Allow them to share as well and close by praying for each other. This can be a great way to form and grow a new relationship.