Having a Plan Helps Us Know Where to Start

W e believe God speaks to us through His Word and wants every Christian to make a habit of reading the Bible for ourselves and applying it to our own lives. Psalm 1 promises that if you meditate on God’s Word, you will grow strong and fruitful like a healthy tree. There are many good ways to do this, but one method that many of us at Community of Hope have found to be simple but effective is to journal through the acronym S.O.A.P.

To do this, start by choosing one of two reading plans…

Short Plan: Takes you through the entire New Testament and then chronologically through the main events of the Old Testament.  In one year, you get an overview of the big story of Scripture in manageable daily amounts.  Find our own COH plan on the YouVersion Bible app by searching for “Word of God Speak”.

Original Plan: Goes through the whole Bible in a year — the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice.  To find this plan on the YouVersion Bible app, search for “Life Journal Reading Plan”.

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Then go through these steps:

  1. Pick a time and place where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
  2. Start by inviting God to speak to you through His Word.
  3. Read through the portion for the day in a modern translation of the Bible.
  4. As you read, have a journal or notebook open to a blank page to write your thoughts, following the acronym “S.O.A.P.”.

S: Scripture
O: Observation
A: Application
P: Prayer

Scripture: As you read the entire passage for the day, select just one or two verses (or even just a few words) that you feel led to focus on in your journaling for the day. Trust that this one thought, which somehow stands out to you more than the rest, is what God will use to speak to you personally today. Write that verse out in your journal.

Observation: Observe what today’s reading says about the thought God pointed out to you in the “S” step above. What does the surrounding chapter help you understand about it? What did the writer want people back then to know? Write out a few sentences telling what you notice about that topic out of your reading for the day. The intent here is not to take notes on the whole chapter but to zero in on one subject.

Application: Now consider how this applies to you personally. What does God want you to do in response to what you have read? How might He want you to change? Or what help and encouragement is He offering you?  This step is the most important part of your journaling time.  Let God speak to you about your own life, and write what you sense He is saying.

Prayer: Write out a brief prayer based on what God has shown you today. This may be a prayer of thanks for what He has done for you, or you may need to admit some area where you have fallen short and ask for God’s forgiveness and His help to change. God is eager to help you do what He has brought to your attention, if you invite Him to do so.

As you close, you might want to give your journal entry a title and a subject heading. The subject will be general, such as “prayer”, “faith” or “love”. The title should express in a few words what you learned. These enable you to go back and track what God has shown you, so you can be reminded of it in the future.

Journaling through the Bible using S.O.A.P. is simple, but if you do it faithfully, God will use this process to speak to you. He says in Psalm 32:8, “I will teach you and instruct you in the way that you should go.” God wants to help you understand Him and follow His ways.