“Read your scriptures!” this statement is probably the 2nd most common admonition in the LDS Church (second to “pray always”). When I was considering baptism and a SUPER new convert, I read my scriptures nearly around the clock. One day, about halfway through 1 Nephi, I realized that even though I had read the pages, I could barely describe the events, let alone the spiritual significance of Lehi’s family fleeing Jerusalem. I knew I needed to find a better method for actually studying my scriptures; the message and personal meaning needed to break through.
A quick Pinterest search for “Scripture Study” will reveal countless posts on flash cards, study guides, and Bible Journaling (which is awesome and totally on my list of things to try), but one suggestion pops up frequently: SOAP.
What? What does soap have to do with scriptures or studying? SOAP is an acronym: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer/Ponder. SOAP is a great tool to break down important passages and verses that just stick out to you. Let’s see it in action…
Scripture: What is the verse/passage that you are struck by?
“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”—1 Nephi 3:7
Observation: What is happening? Why does this stick out to you?
Nephi follows Heavenly Father’s commandments, even though the task is hard and he is discouraged by his brothers
Application: How does this verse apply to my life?
The commandments given by Heavenly Father to His church and Saints can seem overwhelming and unattainable. I know that we are never asked to do more than we can; we must try to follow the commandments, even when we don’t think we can.
Prayer/Ponder: Pray on the passage, ponder-ize its meaning and how you can incorporate the scripture into your life. Get personal, honest, and on your knees before Heavenly Father
Thank you for the blessings of your words through the scriptures. I want to be more courageous and valiant in my testimony. Help me to stand for my faith and follow your commands without hesitation. Let the Spirit flourish in my heart that I may hear your promptings and act in faith. Help me to walk in righteousness so that I may always have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, amen.
Hit the (Good) Book
SOAP works for all forms of scripture study, not just in the Book of Mormon, as shown here. You don’t have to get crazy deep with it, but being true and honestly reflecting on what the verses mean to YOU will make your study more meaningful, help you memorize, and fulfill the purpose of having God’s word on Earth: to learn.
SOAP can be adapted to “normal” study as well. I don’t have a fancy acronym for secular applications, but using the basic premise of Read, Summarize, Apply, and Reflect can help make any topic (even in math!) sink in a little deeper with some critical thinking.
Do you have a study method (faith-based or not) that helps you think critically and more deeply about reading materials? Do you struggle with reading comprehension or other barriers that a study method has helped with? Share your ideas!