For all I know some readers of this post may wonder where I have been living all this time, or maybe that I move in far too small circles! Recently I was reading some comments of a woman who was taking for granted that all her readers knew what the “SOAP” Bible-reading method was. Well I had never heard of it. So I got in touch with her and she explained it stands for:
Scripture – pick your passage, follow a system, use a lectionary
Observation – what particularly touched you in the scripture passage?
Application – how can you apply your observation to your life?
Recommendations are that all this be written in a journal – starting each section S, O, A, P
In my correspondence with her I mentioned how it has similarities to the great tradition of Lectio Divina, “Spiritual Reading”. She had never heard of that 🙂
Lectio Divina has four movements
Lectio – read the passage
Meditatio – reflect on the passage
Oratio – respond in prayer
Contemplatio – rest in God
A couple of final points: SOAP and Lectio Divina do not replace serious academic study of the scriptures – it prayerfully complements study. IMO the Christian spiritual life flourishes when there is a regular balance and variety of prayer styles: Eucharist, lectio divina, intercession, Daily Office, silent prayer,… There is a danger when only one or few from this list are present to nourish our spiritual life.
Comments below, as well as responding to this post, might include other ideas, websites, and resources.