SOAP Journaling

For the last 10 years I have used only one method to journal my daily devotional thoughts. There are hundreds of ways to journal but this one continues to serve me well. I doubt that I will change to a different approach anytime soon. I use is the SOAP method introduced by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. This method forces me to look at the context of a Bible verse and figure out what it meant to the original audience. Then it forces me to meditate on its application to me, followed by praying through the verse and its application.

Here is how SOAP works. It is an acronym, which stands for:

Scripture: I follow a Bible reading plan that takes me through the Bible in one year. So the first thing I do is read through the Bible readings for the day, marking any and all verses that stand out to me. Then when I am done reading through the Bible passages, I pick a verse or passage on which to journal. I write that verse at the top of the page.

Observation: To me this is the most important part of the journaling exercise. Here I write what the verse is saying in context with the surrounding passage. I am trying to understand what the original writer was saying to his original audience. I write down what I believe that to be. I usually write this portion in past tense and in the third person. It might start something like this: “Paul is exhorting the Corinthian believers to….” Often when I start writing my observations on a passage I have no clue how the verse might apply to me. As I write, however, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to me how I am to apply it. For me, this is the meditation part of the journaling exercise. Don’t blow through this part. If you do this properly, you will discover you are truly studying the Bible on your own – with no study notes or study booklets!

Application: Now write how God wants you to apply this in your life. Be specific. This part I write in present tense, first person. It is all about the Lord and me.

Prayer: Take time to pray through the verse and talk to the Lord about the application he has for you. Ask him to help you apply it. If necessary, confess how you have fallen short of living up to the verse in your life. Write out this prayer as you pray it.

In the days ahead I will post some of my own SOAP journal entries as examples. In the mean time, let me recommend some great resources to help you get started in your journaling efforts. Check out LifeJournal.cc. This is New Hope’s site where you can order their Life Journals in which to enter your SOAP entries. These are nice because they provide a reading plan, a table of contents for your daily entries and a prayer list. However, you can easily journal on any piece of paper, computer app, or any plain journal.

YouVersion has numerous reading plans as well as multiple translations of the Bible, as well as audio versions, which I use. One of the plans they have is the Life Journal Reading Plan designed to go with New Hope’s Life Journals. If you have a smart phone, get this free app. Finally, to take you further in this practice of SOAP journaling, let me recommend Wayne Cordeiro’s book, The Divine Mentor. You will find this to be practical guide to having devotions using SOAP.

More on SOAP:

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