When I was growing up, something that triggered the beginning of the holiday season in my life was holiday movies. Whether it was Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, or A Charlie Brown Christmas, these movies marked the Christmas season in my home. A Christmas Story is one of these iconic holiday movies, and it’s timeless, quotable moments make it a comedic, Christmas classic. One of my favorite parts of the film, and one that I relate to well, is when Ralphie speaks of himself as a “connoisseur of soap” because of his many verbal indiscretions. Anybody else ever been guilty of that? Yeah, me either.
Though most of us don’t have our mouths washed out with soap anymore, I think we all could use a little more soap in our lives. I don’t mean the sudsy kind, though. Instead, I’m speaking of lathering our lives in the soul-cleansing suds of God’s Word through the SOAP approach to Bible study.
SOAP is simply an acronym representing the following:
S – Scripture – read through the scriptures a little bit at a time, verse-by-verse. How this looks for me: I write out the verses I’m studying, because it helps me internalize and memorize them, just like when I took notes in school.
O – Observation – jot down your thoughts about what you’ve just read. What sticks out to you in these verses? Does anything strike you as interesting, or thought-provoking? How this looks for me: I like to paraphrase what I’ve just read. It makes me think through what the biblical author is saying and put it into my own words. Also, I like to consult commentaries or study bible notes on this step to see what others can teach me about these verses/passages. I also like to ask myself these questions: What do these verses tell me about God? What do these verses tell me about me/humanity?
A – Application – Based on what you’ve read, what does that look like in your everyday life? How does it affect how you live each day, and how you relate to others? How this looks for me: I also like to consult other resources in this step, but I also ask myself: How do I live my life in light of these verses? What can I do this week to show that?
P – Prayer – Spend some time in conversation with God about the truths you’ve just studied. How this looks for me: I like to journal, so I often pour out my heart to God through written prayers. Journaling also gives me a chronicle I can go back and review to see how God has worked in my life. One of my favorite things to do is to read through my journal from the time I met my husband and see how God brought us together and worked in my heart through our courtship.
If you’re looking for something different than what you usually do to connect in your time with God, maybe SOAP is something that will work for you. It’s a simple approach to getting more out of our time we devote to God and His Word.
Like Ralphie, I think I’d like to be a connoisseur of SOAP. What about you?