Using SOAP with your Bible study

Bible Study Psalm

By Nicole Cardillo

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

The first job I ever had was as a chiropractic assistant. Part of that job was taking notes for the doctor as he adjusted and worked on the patients. The specific note-taking technique for billing purposes were called SOAP notes: Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan.

These notes would help organize what the patients were feeling, as well as the doctor’s findings, treatment, and individualized therapeutic plan.

During my time as a graduate student, I would use the same acrostic while counseling clients.

As we prepare for a new year, there is often a time of reflection over the things that worked, as well as those that didn’t throughout the year. For me, I am personally taking time to reflect on my Bible study habits. I have found reading the Bible is not as much a problem for me as the depth of studying Scripture.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Getting in God’s Word is so important for daily living. It sets the stage of my day and how I will interact with the world around me. It helps me to be eternally focused when something annoys me or bothers me.

So why the acrostic? SOAP is a tool I will be implementing throughout the year to come when I study the Bible, and I urge you to consider the same.

Here is my Bible study version of SOAP notes:

S: Scripture

Read the passage of Scripture slowly, asking God to show you specific words, phrases, themes, etc. that would be meaningful for deeper reflection and study. As it says in Psalm 119: 27, “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”

O: Observe

What is God showing you in the passage that you need to observe? Is He teaching you something? Correcting something in your life? Warning or convicting you about something? Training you up for something? As 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

A: Apply

How does this affect your life? How can you apply the Scripture in practicality? How do you put action to the observations? How can you make change a reality? 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

P: Pray

Prayer is a two-way conversation. Speak to God, especially what you learned through your study of His Word. Be still and let Him in on the conversation. Ask Him to help you see Scripture more clearly and apply what He is showing you to your life. As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing,” and as Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Try some SOAP with your Bible study and see if it helps the way you understand God’s Word!

Nicole Cardillo is a stay-at-home mom and lives with her husband and daughter in New Jersey. She and her husband serve in ministry at their church. Nicole has a master’s degree in counseling and desires to help those with the help the Lord has given to her (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). She enjoys reading, capturing God’s creation through her camera, and enjoying a good cup of coffee. Connect with her on instagram at

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  • Nancy E. Head on

    I love this message. A system helps me to be more diligent. Thanks, Nicole! God bless!

  • Stephen De La Vega on

    Very practical, solid method for daily Bible reading and in-depth study, Nicole. Thank you for sharing this. In the context of daily Bible reading, another suggestion is to keep reading until God speaks to you about something. Sometimes we hear God immediately, but other times it might take longer.

  • Beth Bingaman on

    I like it! All of the steps equal a thorough study. Thanks.

  • Melissa Henderson on

    The SOAP method is a good one. I have been in many Bible studies where the SOAP method was suggested. :-)

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