Are you looking for a fun and exciting way to study the Bible while going deeper into what Jesus is speaking into your life? If so, the SOAP method of Bible study is one that you may want to consider.
The SOAP Bible study method has been around for years. It was created by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro as a way to soak into what the Bible is saying and how it can apply to your life.
It’s easy to do and can be applied at any age! However, it does come with scrutiny and criticism from some Christians, and with good reason.
So is the SOAP Bible study method the right one for you?
To learn what it is and whether or not to use it, we are going to explore:
- What the SOAP Bible Study Method Is
- How To’s
- The benefits
- The Disadvantages
- Other Bible Study Methods to Explore
The SOAP Bible study method may be the best for you. Or, it may not be the right one for you at this time. But no matter what, I want to make sure that we find the best way for you to study the Bible for the season that you were in.
What’s the best way to study the Bible?
“How do I read the Bible?”
“How do I study the Bible?”
This is a question that many people ask themselves. And it’s one that doesn’t have an easy answer. There are various opinions on how to best read the Bible, and there are also many different translations of the text available today.
But in reality? The best way to study the Bible is the way that gets you reading it.
That may sound too good to be true. But many of us that look up how to study the Bible are doing it because we are stuck in some way, shape, or form.
Maybe it’s the season you’re in. Maybe you’re new to reading the Bible and don’t know where to start. No matter what your reason is, whatever Bible study method gets you to read the Bible is the one you want to pick.
Let’s say you choose the SOAP Bible study method. Try it for three weeks (that is how long it takes to create a habit.) If after three weeks it is not working, try another one of our Bible study methods we list at the end of the article.
You can even save this article on Pinterest by using the pin below and refer to it after you’ve tried the SOAP Bible study method for a few weeks and may be ready to try something else.
There are a few other things to consider though when studying the Bible:
What translation will be best for you?
There are many translations of the Bible that have different purposes and audiences. Some translations are meant to read like a novel, others were written more literally (the original Hebrew or Greek languages).
If you are reading online, you can also use something like Biblegateway.com or a Bible app that helps you flip back and forth between translations. Sometimes there is a verse that can speak volumes to you when you read it in multiple translations.
Here at Pray With Confidence, you will find blog posts with people referring to multiple translations of the Bible. That is because we are 35+ writers from around the world, all walks of life. At the end of the day, please pick the Bible translation that will get you to get into God’s word the easiest.
Who do you want to study with?
Where to study the Bible may matter more than you think. You can read it on your own, with a group of friends or family members, in a Bible study class at church.
There is power in reading with people. God calls us to be in community, and it can help us see God’s Word in ways we never would have before.
Yet, at the end of everything, all that will remember is your personal relationship to God. You don’t get to show up to the gates of Heaven with someone who taught you the Bible right by the side. Having a personal relationship with God is more important than anything, so make sure that you are connecting with God through His Word alone sometimes too.
Do you want to take notes?
If you are reading the Bible by yourself, an easy way to keep track is with sticky notes and markers. Having a prayer journal, or even just a plain notebook can be a huge help for really digging into God’s Word.
What is the SOAP Bible study method?
SOAP is an acronym for the following four steps:
Now let’s break down each at a time.
The first step of the SOAP Bible Study Method is “S” for “Scripture.” Scripture is the Word of God, and the foundation of the SOAP method.
This step is important because we need to make sure that our study doesn’t start with anything other than Scripture; otherwise, all sorts of ideas and teachings can creep in and confuse what we’re really looking for.
So for this step, pick what part of scripture you will want to study. It could be a verse or two that stood out to you for some reason, or you could look up the season you are in and Bible verses that go with this. A great way of doing this is going to Biblegateway.com and typing in a word, and seeing where in the Bible that exact word is.
This is such a crucial part of the SOAP Bible Study Method. Observing the scripture, instead of simply taking it at face-value, will help you absorb the Word.
The O of SOAP is when you stop to think about what the Bible passage says, and maybe why it says it. If there are any questions that come up in this process, make sure they’re written down so we can explore them later on!
- Who was this written for?
- What do you see?
- Were any words repeated?
- What jumped out at you?
I would write down anything and everything that comes to your mind. It may be God calling you to some ideas you would not come up with on your own.
The “A” of the SOAP Bible study process is application. Once you have observed and pondered the scripture, now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned.
- What are your thoughts after reading the scripture?
- How does this make you feel?
Now turn back to the Bible passage again…
- What can I do differently because of what I read today?
- Where am I going forward in my life as a result of this reading or application process for me personally?
Some examples might be asking for forgiveness from those who wronged us, forgiving someone ourselves, praying about our relationships with people we love dearly, being less critical when things don’t go well at work or something else.
Then last, is the “P” for Prayer.
Pray God’s word back to Him. Pray the Bible verse, and pray over anything that came to you or that you wrote down while studying the Bible verse you picked for the method.
- You can pray with a friend, spouse or by yourself.
- Pray about anything that came up in your reading process today and ask for God’s help as you go through life.
- If the Bible verse was something to meditate on from a passage of scripture, then thank Him for it and be grateful He has revealed Himself to us so intimately.
That’s it! It is up to you how long you want to study and soak up your verse or verses from the SOAP Bible study method.
Now, is the SOAP Bible study method right for you?
Some love this method, and others don’t. Here at Pray With Confidence, we are big believers that God will reveal Himself to you- half of the battle is showing up.
There are many advantages to this method, but some disadvantages. We believe that all disadvantages can be turned into advantages!
Join us as we talk about the pros and cons and how make everything work for God’s good!
Advantages of the SOAP Bible Study Method
There are plenty of advantages to the SOAP Bible study method. Some include:
- See how God’s Word can apply to your life
- Create a more intimate connection with God and His Word
- Helps you better understand the meaning of what is being read, even when reading alone.
- You can take the time to soak in His Word in a way that doesn’t let you mind wander (too much).
One of the best things about the SOAP Bible study method is that you can tailor it in a way that works for you. We will get to that part after we discuss the disadvantages- so you can take any disadvantages and turn them into advantages!
The most important thing about this approach is that it will create an open dialogue between you and God so He can speak directly to your heart! If you miss this part, unfortunately you miss it all.
The SOAP Bible study process exposes us to truths that are often overlooked but very powerful–maybe even missed altogether.
Disadvantages of the SOAP Bible study method
Of course, with any type of method, there are disadvantages as well. There are definitely some points that critics have pointed out, and some have merit. We will discuss them all, then discuss how to find a solution to as many of them as possible.
Some disadvantages of the Bible study method include:
- Doing this with 1-2 Bible verses takes away the ability to see the Bible verse within context.
- It can be difficult for people of differing abilities (such as differing learning abilities)
- Some passages are too long and require an effort that would not otherwise have been necessary if we were just trying to understand them on our own without any type of method at all.
- It is too “me” oriented instead of “Jesus” oriented.
Many struggle with the idea that if we are taking a particular Bible verse and trying to apply it to our life, we may not fully understand the context of what the Bible verse was actually intended for (or who it was intended for).
Some solutions to the disadvantages of the SOAP Bible study method
- Consider purchasing Bible software which will allow you to customize your study in ways that better suit your needs!
Bible software, such as Logos, can help you really dive into scriptures. Logos is an app that you download and install on your computer, which will allow you to read the Bible in a number of different ways–such as having it translated into other languages or being able to navigate through each verse by hovering over certain words.
There are also many resources available for those with special needs such as blindness, hearing impairment, etc.!
Learn more about Logos below:
- Trouble finding the context of a Bible verse? You can try a few solutions, such as adding more to the “Observe section”.You can do things such as looking at maps, reading about the chapter of the Bible in general to understand who the author is speaking to, or reading a few Bible verses before and after the particular verse or verses you are focusing on.
- Making it more Jesus centered:
This one is an easy solution. We have to keep in mind that the Bible is written for us, but it is written as a way for us to get closer to God and follow His way instead of earthly ways. Therefore, if we use the SOAP Bible study method, we have to make sure to keep Jesus as the center.
The Bible is not just a book of rules like so many of us were taught as children. It’s an instructional manual for how to live life in a way that brings glory and honor to God. We want to read the Bible to follow Him, even if it’s hard, not to try to take Bible verses out of context and use it to prove what we believe.
The SOAP method helps you dive deep into what the passage says about Jesus. At the end of the day, if you are not being challenged by the SOAP Bible study method, there is a chance that you may be using it to better form your own opinions instead of learning God’s.
If you find this is too easy, it may be time to dive deep into it more or to try something else. If we are doing this correctly, then we will be living lives where we see all things through the lens of Christ!
Other Bible Study Methods
There are many different methods for studying the Bible. The SOAP method is one of the most popular because it helps you dive deep into what the passage says about Jesus and leads to an in depth study.
If this feels too basic, or does not work for you for another reason, it may be time to then try more advanced ones or other ones.
- SOUL Method
- PRAISE Bible study method
- Discovery Bible Method
- RACE stands for Read – Apply – Carefully Examine – and Evaluate. This technique involves reading through all verses sequentially from start to finish, but after each verse analyzes how it applies.
- Inclusive Bible study method: The inclusive Bible study method includes reading, studying and discussing the scripture. It’s great for a group because it provides different perspectives to discuss, explore and share.
- Chronological Bible Study: Is reading stories in the Bible chronologically to get the whole picture. This can be done in many ways such as just following the timeline or focusing on one character each day/week etc. Biblical passages are also seen by topics which may make this easier to follow if you struggle with remembering names in old testament books for example
- Lectio Divina: This method involves four steps; lectio means “reading,” meditatio means “meditation,” contemplationis means “contemplation” and oratio means “prayer.” Lectio is the reading of scripture, meditatio the reflection on it and contemplation is the sharing with others.
Lectio Divina can be done by oneself or in a group setting. It’s great because it gives participants time to think about what they just read before moving on which helps them remember more than if you were rushing through verses as quickly as possible.
In conclusion, the SOAP method helps you study and read the Bible in a way that is practical for your life. It’s been around since 1975 and has helped many people grow closer to Jesus! If we are reading it this way then there will be an impact on our lives as well as those around us who see how Christ changes us.
Jessie is the creator of Pray With Confidence. She fought long and hard against God for creating a website about prayer, telling God for two years that He was picking the wrong person. He didn’t want just one person though- He wanted busy Christian women from around the world, from all walks of life, to join together to create a prayer site. She is blessed to be one of the 40 writers for Pray with Confidence.
When not working on this website, she is a social media strategist for Christian churches & ministries at jessiesynan.com.