Do you find it difficult to be effective in your devotional time. We’re good at putting sermons together. Writing a monthly newsletters or even that great blog article. But one thing I find difficult is my own personal Bible Study.
How do we add value to our devotional time? Most tend to pick up their Bible, read a few passages and call it a day.
Maybe you even have that great Our Daily Bread devotional. It takes two minutes to read and then we figure we’ve done our devotions. But have we?
In my personal devotional time, I find it difficult to just sit and read scripture. The funny part about that is I love to read books. So why do I find it difficult to read scripture?
- It’s written differently than what I normally read.
- The Bible’s so large – where do you begin?
Now that may seem strange, a pastor finding it difficult to read scripture? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Word of God. It’s what drives me. It’s what stands as the focal point of this website. I am someone that needs context. I am someone that needs structure when I read, so that I may process what it is I’m reading.
Growing up, my parents took me to a specialist to help me discover how my mind processes information. I learned that for me to get the most out of what I’m reading or studying, I have to read it out loud, write down what I’m learning and re-read so that I didn’t miss anything.
You can imagine, that doing this would cause one’s devotional time to become difficult. So my finding it hard to read scripture has nothing to do with rather it’s boring or not; it has everything to do with being able to comprehend what it is I’m reading.
While attending Bethany College of Missions at the turn of the century my professor gave me something that I have used to this day. This one way of doing my devotionals has made the most sense. I want to share with you this four step method called SOAP.
1. S – Scripture: In picking up any devotional book, you’ll find most begin with a passage of scripture. Whether you’re using a devotional like Our Daily Bread, begin by reading the passage. If you’re using just your Bible write down in a journal what passage you’re reading.
2. O – Observation: This is where the fun begins. As you read the passage of scripture write down what it is your observe. If your using a devotional the observation is what the author has written – but I would also in a journal write down what you observe. Doing this will give you clarity and understanding.
3. A – Application: How are you going to apply this to your daily life? What action steps are you going to take to implement them. Write down your action plan to apply this passage to your daily life. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we begin to grow as a believer.
4. P – Prayer: How important is prayer in your daily life? Our devotional life is more than just reading scripture, it’s more than just observing what the Lord is saying and it’s more than applying it to our daily routine – we must take these things to the Lord in prayer. This is where we allow the Holy Spirit to take what we’ve read, observed and applied and ask Him to bless us. Write down your prayer so that you know what it is you prayed.