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S.O.A.P. Journaling

SOAP

   A discipleship system is dependent on the disciples within that system.  In other words, to make disciples you must first be a disciple.  This is more than just saying you had an experience with Jesus Christ.  There must be evidence that you are following Him.  A disciple is not defined by what they know but by what they do and how they live.  1 John 2:3 says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  We have been commanded to “make disciples” and to be obedient to that command we must make sure we are following Jesus.

     Following Jesus requires our developing daily habits that demonstrate how much we love Him.  These faith habits include your quiet time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  There are many different methods but one that I have used for some time now and teach to churches and church planters is called S.O.A.P. Journaling.  The acronym stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.  This is an excellent way to both record and process what God is saying in you as you read His word daily and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.

     This method begins by selecting a book in the Bible and reading a chapter each day.  You take your journal and write these four letters, S.O.A.P. down the left side of your paper.  As you read you are asking God to draw your attention to one or two verses that speak to you and stand out the most.  When you have decided on that verse(s) you then write it out in your journal. This is the SCRIPTURE aspect of your time with Him.  Take time, slow down, and listen to Him.  The goal is not the number of verses read but having God speak to your heart.

     After writing down the verses the Holy Spirit has impressed upon your heart you then want to begin recording your OBSERVATIONS.  What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture?  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and show you what He has for you that day.  When reading God’s word you should always be looking for commands to obey, sin to confess, or promises to claim.  Write your observations down in your journal by either paraphrasing the scripture in your own words.  You may even want to look up those verses in a commentary to reflect upon them.

     Now it is time for APPLICATION.  The word of God is not just a book to be read it is a book to be obeyed.  Following Jesus requires obedience and without it we really cannot claim to be His disciples.  Application is personalizing what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life.  What action do you need to personally take?  Write in your journal how this verse(s) apply to you, today.  Jesus defines following Him this way in John 14:15,”If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  It would be good to begin each statement of application with, “I will”…. Because you are committing to do it!

     Lastly, you want to write out your PRAYER in your S.O.A.P. journal.  This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you.  Remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say.  Write out your prayer of obedience to what He has shown you in His word trusting Him to help you live it out in your life daily.  So there you have it; Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.  It does work and it will work as you trust the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.

     In order to help others follow Jesus you must first make sure you are following Jesus.  This personal discipleship strategy is an excellent tool to use daily and then at a later time reflect on and review some of the ‘gems’ that God has given you.  Without writing them down you are more prone to forget the blessings and the lesson He has revealed to you.  Journaling is a very personal time between you and the Lord but you may want to share some of your daily reflections with a friend, a small group, your mentor, or someone you are mentoring. 

     The first skill to making disciples is following Jesus.  The second is helping others follow Jesus.  Discussing with others what God is showing you can enable you to look deeper into what God is saying to you and you can gain new insight and be an encouragement to them also.  Share the S.O.A.P. journaling method with others.  You could invite two or three others to journal the same book of the Bible with you and then meet weekly to share what God is saying to each of you.  Discipleship is not rocket science but it does take discipline and obedience.  Follow Jesus first and then help others follow Jesus!

     Wayne Cordeiro says this when referring to S.O.A.P., “Reading God’s word may not change you in a day but reading it daily will change you!”