In the last article I began sharing one of the two ways I journal. Today I offer you my second technique I strive to do each day. This method is much more related to how I process my Bible reading. Therefore, it could serve as a great means for you to not only journal effectively, but understand scripture better. So here it is:
After reading the heading you may be thinking, “What does soap have to do with journaling?” To be fair, had I not read Wayne Corderio’s book, The Divine Mentor, I would be asking the same question. S.O.A.P. is an acronym that describes the steps to journal through the Bible. Specifically, each step means the following:
(S) = Scripture – Each day I try to journal in response to scripture. This means I write down the text I’m about to reflect on next to the letter “S.” For example, if I’m reading/reflecting on I Corinthians 13. I write, “S = I Cor. 13:1-13.”
(O) = Observation – In this section I write out observations from the text. I pay attention to the people, places, things, and events that occur. I simply notice what the scripture says, period. This means I DO NOT interpret or apply the text. That comes next.
(A) = Application – Now I get to interpret and apply the text to my life. Since I have spent time observing the details of the scripture passage I have a better chance to interpret what it full text really means. As a result, better interpretation usually leads to better application.
(P) = Prayer – Change does not happen if we do not pray. It’s easy to brush this part of the journaling technique aside, but this is what transforms my devotions from academics to spiritual formation. Therefore, I will either write out my prayer connected to the reflections I’ve already made from this passage. The prayer may be word-for-word or a summary of what I have prayed privately. The point is that I journal the theme of the prayer so I may be encouraged by how God has worked in my life when I reread my thoughts in the future.
The S.O.A.P. acronym transforms and molds me into a better Christian. Sometimes the process is slow, but this journaling model affords the intentional opportunity to receive the growth Christ desires for me.
Know that unlike my first method I do use pen and paper for this technique. This is because the S.O.A.P. journaling method is a very personal experience for me. Plus there is something more intimate to me about pen and paper than technology. However, as I said in the last post I’ll say in this one, “Use what works best for you.” Try to maintain the integrity of each step in S.O.A.P, but make it your own. I know one friend who uses the acronym R.E.A.P. Each letter means essentially the same thing as S.O.A.P. The point is, he has made it his own. Again, the purpose is that you are journaling than not.
In the end, as you try this method I believe you will reap the benefits as your journaling is connected to scripture. I know when I return to this method after a personal dry spell it helps me personally, spiritually, relationally, and so much more. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started together so we can encourage one another to always continue.