How much do you really know about the Bible? Maybe you have read bits and pieces of the Bible, but you never understood it as a whole. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that the Bible is the inspired, true word of God.

Think about this for a second: The Bible is made up of different books that were written at different times by different people from different places with different lives. It’s not like they started a group text to bounce ideas back and forth! Yet, their work, passed down through many generations and translated many times, has resulted in the consistent text we call the Bible — God’s story of the creation of the universe, the beginning and fall of man, and His plan and purpose for us to know Him through his son, Jesus.

I get it, the Bible can be an intimidating book. Where do I even start? You may have experienced the Bible through The King James Version with all of the thee’s and thou’s and not known what is even being said. Maybe you’ve tried starting at the beginning or end and when things got weird you gave up. That’s okay!

An influential church in the Chicago area, Willow Creek Community Church, did a survey study of the people in their congregation to find out what was encouraging them to grow spiritually. They were looking for the things that people who were spiritually happy and satisfied did on a consistent basis. They discovered that the single greatest thing anyone can do in order to be fulfilled in their relationship with God is to reflect on the Bible — simply, to read it and think about what it says.

This is no surprise, because God gave us the Bible in order to speak to us. He uses it to communicate with us about who He is, how He works and what His plan for us is. He wants us to get a good grasp on what is written in the Bible so we can apply it to our lives. For me, I think a good way to do that is with what is called the “SOAP” method.

SOAP is an acronym that stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. I find that this method of reading the Bible allows me to take away helpful and true content every time.

You may be asking, Why SOAP? Why can’t I just do what you said — read and think about it? Great questions, but let me ask you this, have you ever been reading a book only to discover that you somehow got through three pages but have no idea what happened? Your brain drifted off to other things while your eyes moved across the words. It can easily happen when reading the Bible — I know from experience! When it comes to understanding what God is trying to say to you, reading the Bible is about quality rather than quantity.

It’s one thing to simply read scripture, but when you interact with it, when you learn to slow down to really read it, suddenly words start popping off the page. By SOAPing your verses you are able to dig deeper into scripture and “see” more than if you simply read the verses and then went on with your day.

Here’s how to SOAP, and grow closer to God:

Scripture. Read a passage of the Bible until something sticks out at you, and write down the verse that caught your attention in a journal or notebook. You’ll be amazed at what God will reveal to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading! Remember, it’s about quality rather than quantity. It doesn’t matter how long you read or how many chapters/verses you get through. What matters is taking the time to reflect on what sticks out at you.

Observation. Write down what you observe about the verse. What is it saying? Who is it for? What does it mean? This is how the Bible speaks to you.

Application. This is when God’s Word becomes personal. How does what you saw in the verse apply to you today? How should you respond? What changes do you need to make? Is there an action that you need to take? Write down what this means for your life — how it applies to you.

Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to him. If he has revealed something to you during this time in his Word, pray about it. Confess if he has revealed some sin that is in your life. Thank God for speaking to you and ask him to let his word do its work in you.

SOAP has the power to transform everything about your life by growing and strengthening your relationship with God. In a comfortable way, SOAP helps you read the Word of God so that it is completely transformational and helps you hear what God is showing you every day.