The SOAP Bible study method is a popular method for diving into God’s Word and it’s easy to see why! This simple method provides an accessible template for reading the Word each day, which in turn, allows us to be washed daily with the water of the Word.
One of my favorite passages to pray in the morning is Psalm 51:7, which says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
What is soaping? The SOAP Bible Study Method is a great (and easy!) way to start allowing God’s Word to cleanse our minds and hearts. Below is a breakdown of each of the four steps to the SOAP approach.
How to Use the SOAP Bible Study Method
Letter S in SOAP Bible Study Method
S stands for Scripture. Plain and simple, this is where you decide on your passage and then write it out. An easy and fun way for choosing a passage is by theme or topic, and there are excellent tools online that can assist you in conducting a topical study.
Bible Gateway is one such resource. I like to type my topic into the search field to see a list of Scriptures centered around that topic.
Another great way for choosing a passage is by book. You can simply transcribe a particular book of the Bible, especially ones that are short like James or Philippians, or you can tackle a chapter of scripture at a time, for example, out of Proverbs or the Psalms.
PRO TIP: Having a plan for your Bible study is essential for actually doing it! You might find it helpful to plan a month at a time, a quarter, or even a year. The key is NOT to wait until the day-of to pick a passage.
Be sure to get these SOAP Bible study printables – click the image below:
Letter O in SOAP Bible Study Method
O stands for observation. The words of the Bible are powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, but if we don’t spend time with them, to understand and meditate on them, they don’t do us nearly as much good.
This step in the SOAP Bible study method requires you to take time with the passage and really look at what it is saying. Observation is NOT interpretation; neither is it application. It is simply paying attention and noting what the passage STATES. Observation is about noticing the facts.
Start by paying attention to whom the passage is addressed and who is writing it. What key principle, promise, or command stands out to you? Are there repeated words or phrases that add to your understanding of what is being said?
Having a simple set of questions to ask is a wonderful tool for reading through your Bible. Find my set of 10 Questions to Ask here…
and here is a fun Color Coding Guide as you read through your Bible.
Letter A in SOAP Bible Study Method
A stands for application. Ultimately, the goal of Scripture intake is connection with God and life transformation. Accumulating head knowledge alone isn’t sufficient, so this step in the SOAP Bible study method is critical.
During the application step, you’ll identify a nugget of wisdom that you can incorporate into your life to align yourself with the Word of God. You may need to dig a little deeper, for example, when reading books like Leviticus in its instructions regarding the building of the temple. ☺ But even harder passages can provide insight into how to live our lives.
For example, this portion of the Bible demonstrates God’s thorough attention to detail. You may reflect that you, like His temple, are also intricately made, put together with the utmost care. You might conclude that a job worth doing is worth doing right, and that God inspired His artisans with the skills needed to perform their exquisite craftsmanship. Your application may be to apply excellence to your work and trust the Lord to equip you for the task at hand.
Letter P in SOAP Bible Study Method
P stands for prayer. If you’re like me, you likely spoke with God before your Bible reading, asking Him for the wisdom to understand His Word. Now, at the conclusion of your study, you can once again agree with God’s Word in prayer.
- Thank Him for His promises and principles.
- Ask Him for help in any area where you need His power.
- Repent of any sins that His Word has unveiled to you.
- Commit your way to Him and trust Him to fulfill His plans for your life.
Talk to God about any issues over which you are confused, as the Scripture promises He gives wisdom liberally to all who ask (James 1:5).
Example of SOAP Bible Study Method
In closing, let’s use the SOAP Bible study method on 1 Chronicles 15:16. This passage reads: “David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.”
Scripture – write down the verse
Observe – David is giving a command to the leaders of the Levites. Music is to be performed by the priests in a joyous manner. This would include stringed instruments (lyres and harps) and percussion (cymbals).
Application – God’s kingdom includes people leading others, and we are to observe God’s order in this regard. I can recognize God’s leadership in the lives of others and joyfully follow their lead.
Music is a means of worshiping God…and in a happy fashion! We can be loud in our praise, as cymbals could be heard at a distance, and I can rest assured that God delights in my songs to Him.
Prayer – I might use this opportunity to thank God for those who lead music at my church and ask Him to make our hearts joyful in praise. I might also ask Him to try my heart and see if my worship in music is genuine or if I’m simply going through the motions ☺.
This process can take as long or as short a period of time as you would like, there is no right or wrong!
The SOAP method can help you go deeper in your studies, making the best use of your time.
And remember, using this method with shorter passages is just fine! James says to be doers of the Word, and so, a small passage of scripture that is well understood and applied is more valuable than having scanned large swaths of the Bible and quickly forgetting what has been read.
I hope you find this method helpful, and I hope the SOAP Bible study examples have been useful. I wish you the best as you dive deeper into God’s Word! ❤️
Don’t forget to download our FREE SOAP Bible Study Printable Sheets below.