Basics on How to Practice and Establish Your Daily Devotion
It’s one thing to simply read scripture, but when you interact with it, when you learn to slow down to REALLY read it, suddenly words start popping off the page. This is what the Scripture describes as "meditation".
"but his delight is in the law [Word] of the Lord,
and on his law, he meditates day and night."
- Psalm 1:2 (ESV)
Eugene Peterson puts it this way:
Instead, you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
- Psalm 1:2 MSG
God's instruction to Joshua says:
"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
- Joshua 1:8
By SOAPing your verses you are able to dig deeper into scripture and “see” more than if you simply read the verses and then went on your merry way. Let me encourage you to take the time to S.O.A.P. the daily scriptures and see for yourself how much more you get out of your daily reading. You'll be able to meditate on it and you’ll be amazed.
Before we learn the method, remember that daily devotion is a habit that needs to be intentionally built up. Just like physical work-out, we have to make a resolve to make it a part of our healthy lifestyle. They say habits are formed intentionally or unintentionally if we do it for 21 days straight. At first, habit formation takes effort, focus and determination before it can normalise in our systems. But keep persisting and it will be easier in the long run. The key to this is how much this matters or is important for you.
PASSION ALWAYS MAKES A WAY.
APATHY ALWAYS FINDS AN EXCUSE.
Our brains associate habit with space and time. So, when you are deciding to build your spiritual habit of Daily Devotion it will help to decide the place or space and the time of the day you commit to doing it. Another thing to understand is that this is not an obligation but an awesome privilege we have. There is no legalism here but an invitation of God to draw closer to Him daily. There is also no one size-that-fits-all or one-style-that-works-for-all in developing your habit of daily devotion. Find your rhythm and be personal about it. Use music, audio Bible, multicoloured pens, draw, watch a clip, etc. The wonder of today's technology is that we can access the Word of God in many different ways. Just make sure that you shut down or silence every possible distraction as you commune with the Lord.
WHAT DOES S.O.A.P. MEAN?
Take your time reading the passage of scripture and allow God to speak to you. Look for a verse that particularly spoke to you and write it in your journal. You’ll be amazed what God will reveal to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading! This also helps our memory function because writing activates the memory faculty of our brains.
What do you see in the verses that you’re reading? Who is the audience? Is there repetition or emphasis of words? What words stand out to you? What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words in your journal. Many times I just bullet my observations
This is when God’s Word becomes personal. Write what you think is God saying to you today? How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? What changes do I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take?
Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in His Word, pray about it. Confess if He has revealed some sin that is in your life and be reminded of God's grace. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say and journal about it. You can also pray for the things God places in your heart concerning other people in your life.
Studying God’s Word like this can take as little or as long as you have time to give. But as Christians who love the Presence and the Word of God, it is a natural desire to spend ample time in His Presence. But the reality is that we have jobs, we're taking care of the kids, and can be preoccupied with many things. That is why this habit has to be INTENTIONAL and not left to chance. It has to be planned and if it is a priority for us, we will find a way to do it. Some days it can take just be 10 or 15 minutes, other days longer. What matters is the heart that longs to dwell in the Lord and draw closer to listen to Jesus. It would be great if you can have a personal journal. On your journal, fill in the date and create a title for your journal entry.
Here’s an example…
[ DATE ]
Who Am I Pleasing?
SCRIPTURE: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
OBSERVATION: How much of my life is wasted trying to be liked, accepted or celebrated by people around me who don’t matter? How many times do I make life decisions based upon opinions of those who don’t love me or God? Why am I so consumed with winning the approval of others and not consumed with pleasing my Heavenly Father?
APPLICATION: Today I want to run every decision I make through the filter of pleasing God. I choose to believe that if I please God with my decisions and life, it will not only be the best for me, but it will honor God and others.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, give me the strength today to make hard decisions. Help me to be so confident in my identity as your son that I don’t place others’ opinions and direction above yours. Give me the courage to act on this today. Amen
Here are other samples I found of people using it creatively:
Now you give it a try! Create a SOAP devotion using Luke 10:38-42. Go ahead and try it. The Bible says, "you will seek me and you will find me if you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)