Like any relationship, the only way it will grow is to spend time together, talking and getting to know each other better. It’s no different in our relationship with God. We need to make it a priority to spend time with Him each day, talking and listening. We can talk with God through prayer. And we can listen to God through the Holy Spirit as He using the Word of God in our lives.
Two words sum up how we can grow as disciples in our relationship with God: priority and habit. We must decide a growing relationship with God is the most important part of our daily life as a disciple of Jesus. And so we must prioritize time to get alone with God. As they say, our calendar and our wallet reveal what really matters to us. And for daily time with God in prayer and His Word to really stick, it must become a habit. It’s been said that the best way for a daily time with God to become a habit is to find a specific place, a specific time, and a specific plan.
Here at Sugar Grove, we want to help you with a specific plan. It’s called the “S.O.A.P. Bible Study Method.” Here it is…
S. is for Scripture
Take time reading and allow God to speak to you through His Word. You want to get the big idea of what God is saying in the entire text you read. But, the primary focus is then a verse (or verses) which stood out to you.
O. is for Observation/Interpretation
What do you think God is saying in this scripture? And then, what do you think He is saying specifically to you? Ask God (through the Holy Spirit) to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words.
A. is for Application
Personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a promise, or correction in an area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.
P. is for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. But remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.
To help you prioritize time with God and help you develop the habit of daily Bible reading and prayer, we have made some resources available to you. Here they are…
1. Bible Reading Plan
We believe it is healthiest to learn to work through the Word of God instead of taking a “shot gun” approach, where you just pick and choose certain passages. All of God’s Word matters and we need to learn to study all of it. And to help you do that, we encourage you to follow the Life Journal Reading Plan. We have hard copies available at our info tables (or you can download a pdf version below). Also, you may choose to use the online Bible tool YouVersion.com. Once you are signed up for YouVersion, you can choose the plan and it will track your progress for you.
We encourage one of two options with this reading plan. You can read through the entire Bible in a year (which include both Old and New Testament readings each day) which is typically four chapters a day. Or if you’re just starting out reading God’s Word and four chapters is a bit overwhelming, you can choose to just do the New Testament part of the reading plan which is a chapter a day (though we strongly encourage you at some point to read the Old Testament as well).
2. S.O.A.P. Journal
If you are the pen and paper type, we have journals we are providing for you to use as you record your time with God using the S.O.A.P. method. These are available at the info tables on Sunday mornings or at the church office during the week. If you prefer online, your best bet is to use Evernote. Evernote indexes your entries in real time so it’s fast and easy to search and find previous entries.
If you are already using a Bible reading plan that is helping you grow as a disciple of Jesus, then by all means, continue to do so. What we are offering is just another option for those looking. We hope that it is helpful and God uses it to draw you closer to Him and more conformed into the image of Jesus.