By Art Barrett
We encourage SOAP a lot at New Life. It’s not about hygiene — although we support that too. In this case SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer, and it’s a devotional time. But even more so, it is a way of developing a routine of hearing God’s voice and living into His invitation and challenge.
The aim is to daily spend time with God, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. When we have more time, great, hang out more. But most people need a doable practice that still allows them to get with God and get off to their morning commute too!
How does it work? It’s quite simple. When you sit for your daily visit with God, read the Bible as you normally would with one simple difference. Instead of treating it as a reading assignment, treat it as a visit with God. It’s not a task to do; it’s a relationship you’re building and maintaining.
What’s God saying?
What that means is it’s not something to accomplish and check off your list. The priority is to watch for God touching your heart, whispering in your ear regarding what you’re reading. When God gets your attention, pay attention; listen up! So, if the reading assigned for the day is Genesis 28:16 to 29:12, the win is not reading every one of the assigned verses. The win is stopping to pay attention to God! What if something pricks your interest in the very first half of the first verse? If you want to come back later and read the remaining 26 verses, great! But pay attention to where God is getting your attention right now and lean in!
So when God gets your attention STOP. Don’t worry that you don’t know whether it’s a big point or a little point.
Just stop and write down the verse, or phrase that caught your attention. (Many of us don’t want to commit and write it down yet because we are not sure it is important enough yet. Don’t worry about that! Go ahead and write it down. This way you leave room for God to speak to you and be the arbiter of what is important.)
Why write it down? Because writing it down slows you down. We call it abiding. God will begin to speak to you as you slow down. Listen as you write it out in log book or whatever you use. But don’t cut and paste; write or type it out.
Here’s how it looks
This is the “S” in SOAP, scripture.
S= Genesis 28:16 Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Next is the “O.” Observation. What caught your attention? What did you notice?
This might be just a sentence, and that’s OK. You are not doing a teaching, you are responding to where God has gotten your attention. Here is something helpful. Enter into dialogue; address God.
So my “O” might look like this;
O= Father I believe You want me to see that just like with Jacob you are wherever I am! I sense You are saying to
me, “Wake up and realize I am here with you even in the place you least expect Me to be.” That means You are
here right now as well as where I am going today.
Now comes the application – where I take a measurable action that empowers me to live into God’s best for my life. Application is the expression of the faith I will act upon based on what God has said in the written word and the word He is writing on my heart. Here is a helpful practice, write in the first person not. God is with you. Talk to God, NOT about God. He is talking to YOU, not them or the others.
Mine looks like this:
A= Father, as I go to work, some days it feels like it is empty of Your influence, but today I am going to remember Jacob’s words, “the Lord is in this place.” Today at least three times I will repeat those words to myself. And after I say them, I am going to look for where You are revealing Your presence.
Then comes “P.” P is for prayer. Personally, I have been in prayer the whole time I have been doing the S, O, and A. Prayer is dialogue with God, as well; I listen as well as talk. So “P” becomes a concrete invitation for God to remind and enable me to do in faith what I have heard God challenge me to do.
P= Father, thank You for getting my attention here today! I really needed to hear You and be reminded You
are with me, even at my work place. Show Yourself to me as I look for where You are at work today. Remind me to practice saying, “You are in this place.” Amen
As a result of SOAP-ing I heard His voice as a sure word from Genesis and a fresh word in my heart.