In most sports, to excel it requires focus and discipline in the basics. For Football, it’s blocking and tackling. For Basketball it’s the free throw. No matter how many times they have done it, most professionals of their sport practice the basics everyday. I would have to say the most basic discipline for excelling in a Christ-filled life is regular time alone with God.
It’s so easy to hit the ground running (or groggy) each morning, without so much as a thought for God and His purposes. The things that fill up our day do not fully satisfy. In fact, the pursuit of good grades, money, or success (and just about anything else) will only leave our soul’s empty, if we don’t focus on the basics first. Spending time with God alone is important, and one of the best ways to hear from God is through scripture. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Spending time with God and reading His word are nothing new, but focusing on these basics makes all the difference.
Bible Study Tool For Teens – S.O.A.P.
When I was a teen, one of the tools that helped me focus on spending time alone with God most mornings was called S.O.A.P. A key element in creating any habit is starting some sort of a routine. There are plenty of good devotionals out there that are a great way to get you started in alone time with God, but what I love about S.O.A.P. is that it get’s you right into the word. S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. Here is the breakdown:
S – Scripture
The very first step is to start by reading the Bible. Yes, simple. During your reading, pick a passage that stands out to you and read through it 2 or 3 times. You could use a daily devotional or Bible reading plan.
O – Observation
Next, read through the passage you chose a few more times, asking key questions that help you think about the meaning of the scripture. My favorites are “What is this scripture actually saying?”, “What does this tell me about God?”, or “What does this scripture tell me about myself?”. The goal is to get to a point where we can explain the passage in our own words. Also ask “who“, “what“, “when” and “why“.
A – Application
Next, we ask the hardest question of all: how does this passage apply to me? How can we apply what we read to our lives? Is it telling us something we should or shouldn’t do? Is it showing us something positive to put into our lives? Or maybe it’s showing us something negative that we should remove from our lives? There are many directives in the Bible that are somewhat easy to come up with a personal application to. But we can even pull out applications from narratives if we dig a little.
P – Prayer
Finally, pray. Talk to God about what you read. Ask Him to clarify anything you have trouble understanding. Commit to Him your application.
Just do it!
Whatever method you use, I encourage you to commit to a routine that includes spending daily time alone with God. It is basic, but it is so important. Why? Because when we spend time with someone, they tend to rub off on us a little bit. Don’t you want God to rub off on you?
I encourage you to try S.O.A.P. out! It works great to use in journaling as well! If you lead a group of youth, this is also an amazing tool to equip your students with.