Next Time, Use Soap: Bible Study Method

by Jacob Abshire on November 21, 2023

One of my children, whose name remains hidden, opposed baths. It took too much time. It required too much work. It wasn’t fun and exciting. But they did it anyway when we made them. But it never failed; the stink of the day was still there. “Did you use soap?” Mom and I would ask. We knew the answer.

“Now, go and wash again.”

Some of us treat our devotionals the same way. We do it because we must, but not because it is enjoyable. It requires too much work. It isn’t fun enough. So, we cut corners and smell like the dirt of the day. I want to encourage you to try SOAP. Trust me, it will get you clean, and you will enjoy it.

The SOAP method is a tool to get you clean quickly and deeply. You don’t require any scholarship to get started. You don’t even need water, but a hot coffee is encouraged. (There is something about a hot brew with your Bible.) Before we get into the technicalities, let me motivate you with some benefits.

The SOAP Bible study method, standing for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer, offers a structured yet deeply personal approach to engaging with God’s Word. 

First, it will yield a deeper understanding. The SOAP method encourages you to immerse yourself in Scripture by reading it aloud or writing it down in a journal. This practice alone can help you absorb the profound messages of the Bible.

Second, it will guide you into thrilling observation and reflection. You develop a deeper understanding of the context and message by asking questions about the text, such as who wrote it, what it means to you, and why it’s included in the Bible. It prompts you to reflect on the significance of each passage.

Third, it positions you to apply the text personally and timely. The heart of the SOAP method lies in applying the Bible’s teachings to your life. It challenges you to think about how God speaks to you personally and how you can apply His Word to your daily circumstances.

Finally, it brings about genuine spiritual growth. Through prayer, the SOAP method invites you to invite God into your study. It fosters a genuine connection with Him, allowing you to grow spiritually as you seek His guidance, understanding, and wisdom.

Now, let’s talk about how you do it.


In this step, you want to focus on a specific verse (or multiple verses). Typically, I’m reading through a single chapter (depending on the book) and waiting for a verse that captures my attention. Sometimes, I have to read the chapter twice. Once I nail down the verse, I write it in my journal word-for-word. It will steer the rest of your devotional time.


Depending on your familiarity with the Bible, this step will look different. You want to write down everything you observed related to your focus verse in your reading. Who wrote this and why? What is the immediate context about? What is happening in the story, poem, or argument? What are some principles that might transfer into your life right now? A study Bible can help you with the subject matter and context.


After considering some principles, or even some practices, that might transfer into your life, write them down in your journal as an application. Think about your roles and responsibilities. Are you married? Are you parenting? Maybe you are struggling with something specifically, concerned about someone, or wrestling with a sin. What is it that caused this verse to stand out to you? Incorporate this into your daily life. (When I’m in a bind, I pull out the Family Worship Bible Guide, a staple in my toolset.)


Finally, pray about what you’ve read and studied. Surrender your understanding to God, asking Him to guide you in applying His Word to your life. Also, consider some immediate actions that you should take and ask the Lord to help you with them. After praying, you may need to send a text, write an email, or make a call to someone. If it is a habit to form, set up a reminder. Don’t walk away from your devotional and forget; take action.

The SOAP method invites you to explore God’s rich truths for your life. I encourage you to take the first step. Grab your Bible, a journal, and an open heart. Dive into the Scriptures, observe their beauty, apply their teachings to your life, and connect with God through prayer.

Download a free printable chart of the entire Bible to track your studies.

SOAP examples from Ezra

A New Discipleship Resource

Creative Content for Christian Men

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