Do you ever find that your Bible reading has become stale? Like nothing significant is happening as you’re reading? I have. And I know I’m not alone. In recent months, I’ve shared my Bible reading practices with several people from Crossroads. For what it’s worth, here are three strategies you might want to try.
The first is called the S. O. A. P method. It’s an acronym for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Here’s how it works: As you’re reading through the Bible, look for a Scripture that stands out to you—perhaps it’s a word or phrase. Whatever it is, write it at the top of your journal. Then, move to make some observations about the surrounding context. What do you notice? What’s taking place? Third, make an application to your life. How might you put into practice what you are learning today—right now. Finally, take what you have learned and formulate it into a prayer. Here’s an example of what this might look like.
If that method doesn’t appeal to you, here’s a second one: After you’ve done your reading for the day, identify one major teaching point and summarize it in a sentence. Then do the following:
Thanksgiving – Pause and thank God for giving you that revelation.
Repentance – Spend some time repenting for your failure to live out that instruction.
Petition – Ask God to grant you the grace to live out that truth.
The third strategy consists of a bunch of ways to apply what you’ve read—all of which come from Tim Keller’s book on prayer. Ask yourself any combination of these questions.
Am I living in light of this? What difference does this make? Am I taking this seriously? If I believed and held to this, how would that change things? What does this teach me about God and his character? About human nature, character, and behavior? About church, or life in the people of God? What does this mean for my relationship with God? To myself? To this or that person or group? To this or that behavior or habit? To my friends, to the culture?
Be concrete—is there something you must stop doing because of it? Is there something you should start doing? Why might God be showing this to you today? What is going on now in your life to which this would be relevant?
Look within the passage: for any personal examples to emulate or avoid, for any commands to obey, for any promises to claim, and for any warnings to be heeded.
I hope these suggestions improve your time in Scripture! If you know of any other methods—especially one that has served you well—please share it with me.