About a year ago I started journaling while reading my bible. I would simply write down whatever came to mind, or whatever I felt God was showing me and/or teaching that day. It didn't take long before I was able to see a consistent pattern developing in what God was speaking to me, and it was only through journaling that I was able to capture the beautiful portrait that God was creating in my heart.
The only problem that I found with my journaling was that there was no structure to it. When it comes to spending time with God is perfectly alright in many ways. However, I'm certainly a person that craves organization, and the one thing that I found was that it was very hard for me to find 'certain' journal entries when I went back to look for them.
That being said, one of the best sermons that I've heard so far was my pastor's teaching on self-feeding. He talked about a specific way of journaling called SOAP. He explained that this type of journaling has radically transformed the way he views spending time with God, and that it made him very excited to see what God was going to show him every day. After seeing some of the benefits journaling has had in my own life, I was instantly intrigued!
So, here's how the SOAP method of journaling works...
After spending time in the Word I pray that God would lead me to a specific verse or portion of scripture. For me, that alone has been pretty amazing, because I've been finding that scriptures that I would have normally passed by seem to jump off the page at me! This is the scripture (or portion of scriptures) that I write down for the "S" in my journal.
The "O" is my observation of that verse, or how the Lord is bringing light to that verse for me.
Next, I spend a few minutes meditating on that scripture, and trust that the Holy Spirit is going to show me specifically how that scripture is applicable to my life, which is the "A" in my journal entry.
Last but not least is the "P" which stands for prayer. I take a moment and write out a prayer as it relates to what God has shown me that day.
Here's a quick example of how a SOAP journal entry might look (Note: This is not an actual journal entry of mine):
S (Scripture): "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" ~Philippians 4:13
O (Observation): There is nothing that I can't do with Christ living in me, because He gives me strength for anything that comes my way.
A (Application): Yesterday I was really doubting being able to accomplish the huge project I was working on, but I need to remember that the Word of God does not lie, and it says that I can do ALL things through Christ, and that means ALL things, even my project!
P (Prayer): "Lord please forgive me for relying on my own strength when trying to accomplish things. Ultimately I know that when I depend on myself I will be let down, and short circuit your strength and power working in me. Help me to remember this verse when I'm tempted to doubt my abilities, and help me to rely upon your strength. Help me to remember that you promised that I can do anything with your help! In Jesus Name, Amen."
My walk with God has been impacted in so many ways since I started this type of journaling a few months ago.
Instead of having a thousand thoughts running through my mind after I spend time in the Word, I now find myself more focused, meditating on a specific Word for that day. It's almost like I have a specific portion of scripture to chew, digest, and sustain me for the day....I guess that's why it's referred to as our daily bread!
It's also improved my relationship with God because I am able to make clear connections to what He is speaking to me. I do this by titling each journal entry with a few key words that explain what He led me to that day. This allows me to easily back track to a particular scripture, and how it applies to me.
That way, when I find myself needing to be reminded of a specific promise, teaching, or word that He has shown me, I am able to flip right to it! This is also great when I'm trying to minister to other people, because I am able to look up a certain promises as they relate!
On that note, I want to add that there are many ways to go about journaling, and spending time in the Word of God, so I am not saying this is the only way to spend time meditating on the Word, or that it is necessarily what's right for you. The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword (Heb. 4:12). It will change your life no matter how you go about studying it! However, this is one way of really focusing on God's promises, that has been powerful for me personally, so I thought I'd share it with all of you! Hope it's a blessing! xo Katie