One of the things I hear so often and with people of all ages is that they just don’t know how to read the bible. Haven’t we all been in that place? You know, the place where we read just to say we read. By the time we finish the selected scripture, we have no idea what it said, and it certainly isn’t very meaningful to our lives.
Do you find yourself losing interest if you try to study scripture, especially if you don’t have a companion study or guide in hand? I think we probably have all felt that way at one time or another.
To help make scripture more meaningful to me, I have a routine that works for me.
I first try to have different translations handy while reading. That’s not always an option, but I prefer to if I can. If I have my phone only, I use the YouVersion Bible App to go back and forth between translations, but my absolute favorite is the parallel option from BibleGateway. It allows me to see several different translations side-by-side. I like having the different translations because it allows me to take difficult scripture and see it written in several ways so I can better understand the meaning.
Before reading, I make sure to turn off all distractions – no phone (airplane mode if I’m reading from my phone), no tv, no friends, etc. I want it to be just God and me.
Then, I take the steps to enter into his presence and let the words speak to me:
- Pray: Pray for God to help me understand what I’m reading and to keep my mind free of distractions.
- What is it saying?
- What is it saying to me?
- How can I apply it to my life?
- One Step Further: Take it one step further and ask if there is anyone I know who might need to hear this scripture, and pray over that person. Also, ask God to reveal something I might have gone through or might still be going through that makes the scripture more relevant to me.
I always advise keeping some type of journal or notebook to take notes in.
If All Else Fails, Use SOAP
The steps I just mentioned are easy for me to remember because I’ve done it for so many years. However, many of my friends prefer to use SOAP when they read scripture. It’s the same process but easier to remember and easier to teach to others.
Always pray before you begin.
Scripture – Take one verse and write it down in its entirety. (What is it saying?)
Observation – What do you feel like this scripture is saying? Re-write it in your own words so that it makes sense to you. (What is it saying to me?)
Application – Think of how this scripture can be applied to your life right now. Maybe you’re walking through something, or maybe you’ve been praying about something in particular, or maybe there’s something that you just haven’t noticed before that makes this scripture mean something different to you today. (How can I apply it to my life?)
Prayer – Ask God what he wants you to do with this scripture. Maybe he wants you to use it in some way. Maybe there’s someone in your life who needs to hear this scripture, and God reveals that person to you. Talk to him, but be sure to listen to what he has to say in return. (Taking it one step further)
I’m currently going through a study, and our memory verse this week is from Romans 12:2. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If you are having trouble getting started, why not start here? Take this scripture, and dig deeper to find how meaningful and relevant it is in your life.