Woman hand holding a pen in an open study Bible

The Word of God is the lamp to guide our feet and the light for our way to go. Without God’s life-giving Word, we would wander. Yet often we don’t have (or make) the time to study the Bible for ourselves, or we think we can’t study Scripture because we aren’t pastors or theologians. But what if there is a simple way to study the Bible, one that everyone can understand? An example of this is the soap Bible study method.

The Bible is full of scriptures about God’s Word, and these often refer to us studying His Word. This means that it is important to God that we study the Bible.

“Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder.”

Deuteronomy 11:18 (MSG)

God wants us to study His Word so he can give us direction in life. Through His Word, God can direct us. Because He loves us so much, He wants us to live in His will.

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.”

Psalm 119:130 (NLT)

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

SOAP Bible study method

The S.O.A.P method of Bible Study does not require a theology degree or special study skills. This method is simple and understandable for everyone who loves to spend time with God and His Word.

So, what is the soap bible study method? It is an easy method for getting more out of our personal time in God’s Word. We grow in faith by studying God’s Word and become more confident in who we are in Christ.

Normal soap washes our outward being by removing dirt and sweat from our bodies, leaving our skin feeling clean and refreshed. Similarly, soap Bible study is a way to clean our inward being by cleansing our heart, spirit, and soul. When we study God’s Word and allow it to speak to our innermost being, we will feel refreshed and clean. His Word washes and purifies us.

“To make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

Ephesians 5:26 (NLT)

What do the letters S, O, A, and P stand for in SOAP?

SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

  • Scripture: selecting a Bible verse to focus on.
  • Observation: exploring and meditating about the selected verse.
  • Application: applying the scripture to our lives.
  • Prayer: praying about the verse and its application.

Who invented soap bible study method?

The SOAP Bible study method has been around for several years and many people all over the world use it. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro created it as a method to soak up what the Bible is saying and how it can apply to our lives.

Pastor Cordeiro’s daily Bible journaling method helps us apply God’s Word to our lives practically. It is easy, practical, personal, and straightforward. We don’t need to go to Bible school to study scriptures for ourselves.

Some call it the soap prayer method, because of the emphasis on praying after reading and meditating on scripture. Prayer is a vital part of the soap Bible study method.

How do you use the soap method to study the Bible?

We can use the soap Bible study method every day during our devotion time with God or, for example, on a specific day of the week because S.O.A.P. Bible study isn’t linked to a specific program. There is also no time limit to soap Bible study. We could spend as short as 5 minutes in study or as long as an hour or more, depending on our preference and time availability.

It is important, though, not to let our other daily activities consume most of our time, leaving little or no time to focus on God and His Word. God and His Word should always be our priority and we can build our lives around it, instead of allowing our lives to determine the time we spend in God’s presence.

When just starting with soap Bible study, start small and build it up slowly. Creating a habit takes an average of thirty days, so be patient with yourself when establishing a healthy Bible study pattern. Don’t give up when you miss some days and don’t feel guilty. That blaming and condemning voice is the voice of the enemy, not of God.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1 (NLT)

SOAP Bible study time is also perfect to select verses and insights to create your own Biblical declarations.  

What are the steps of SOAP Bible study?

The soap Bible study method (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) has four simple steps:

Step 1: Scripture

Select a short Bible passage, read it aloud, and then write it out. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you by letting a part (or all) speak directly to you. Underline, highlight, and take notes in your Bible for the verse(s) or phrases that spoke directly to you. Once you identify what stands out the most, write it down. This is called Bible journaling.

Step 2: Observation

Ask questions such as what do you notice about the verse(s) and what do you think the key message is? Which part jumped out to you? What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? Write these meditations and insights in your soap Bible study journal. Don’t worry about getting it exactly right but continue to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

Step 3: Application

Personalize what you read by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. That could be an instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this Scripture applies to you today and ask God how He wants you to apply the verse.

Step 4: Prayer

Each time you study, close your session with prayer. This can be as simple as asking God to help you memorize and apply this Scripture or a greater insight into what He may reveal to you. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say, then write it down in your SOAP Bible journal.

To give you a start, here is a beautiful free template for download: soap bible study method pdf.  

SOAP Bible study worksheet and Bible reading p,lan
soap Bible study method pdf – worksheets

SOAP bible study method example

To understand how to use the soap method of Bible study, it’s helpful to look at a soap method example. Note that it is ‘just’ an example. You may journal differently simply because God created you differently. We are all unique. The most important thing to do when we use the soap Bible study method is to align our spirits and hearts with God and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Scripture: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Mathew 6:14-15 (NLT).

Journaling: God will not forgive me when I don’t forgive others, no matter whether it concerns a big or a minor issue to forgive.

Observation: God will not forgive me when I don’t forgive others.

Journaling: unforgiveness is a sin. God wants me to forgive everyone, no matter the level of ‘sin’ committed against me. God not forgiving me is a scary foresight. He is a forgiving God. He is good. What touched my heart is the part where God would not forgive me.

Application:

Journaling: I thought I had forgiven ‘xxx’ but realize I did not really do that; there is still a grudge in my heart. I should go on my knees and truly forgive ‘xxx’. I need to ask God to forgive me and ask the Holy Spirit to help me keep my heart clean of unforgiveness.  

Prayer:

Journaling: Lord, I am sorry for keeping this grudge in my heart instead of releasing ‘xxx’ with forgiveness. I am really sorry. Please forgive me. Thank You, for revealing this to me. Help me, Lord, not to fall for the trap of unforgiveness again. Wash me with Your blood and don’t hold this against me. Thank You. Amen.

SOAP Bible study method considerations

The soap method of Bible study is an easy way to study God’s Word by yourself. It is important, though, to keep in mind that Scriptures have context, not just a historical context but also the context of the surrounding verses. When picking a verse or a passage, we need to note the context as well. When we just focus on small parts of the Bible, we may miss the (full) message.

Also, various verses-and even complete Bible books- relate and refer to each other. If we would select just one part, we could misinterpret the Scripture. For example, many of God’s promises come with a requirement that is often written in the previous verse(s). If we would pick only the promise, it may sound like a guarantee to us. Meanwhile, God wants us to do something (or leave something) and have a certain attitude and state of heart before He will fulfill that promise.

Starting your Bible study straight with reading Scripture is great, but it may become even better when you pray first; pray for understanding and guidance from the Holy Spirit. The soap method of Bible study would then become psoap (lol).

It is important to keep this in mind when using the soap Bible study method for ourselves.

Let’s Pray

Father, thank You for Your Word. Help me understand and apply Your Word the way You want me to do. Reveal Yourself to me while I study Your Word and open the eyes of my understanding. Let my heart be soft and receptive to Your Spirit.

Holy Spirit, guide me when I study the Bible and direct me on what to focus on. Explain the meaning of each verse to me and help me see what I need to change or do to align my life with the will of God. Help me apply what I read.

I am determined to study Your Word. Help me not to give up. I rely on Your strength and wisdom to go on. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.