Our daily bread is both physical and spiritual food
Many of us find ourselves in different points in the Christian walk. Perhaps we are looking into the claims of Christianity, but we have not made any decisions for ourselves. We might be spiritual “newborns,” that need simple spiritual milk. We might have been Christians for a few years, and we desire to learn more. And still others of us have been Christians as long as we can remember.
No matter where we may find ourselves, reading the Bible is key to growing and moving on into maturity. Even those exploring Christianity, who have not made a decision to follow Christ, still need to explore the Bible. For it is the Bible that is the Living Word, which shapes and changes us. In Jesus’ prayer, he said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). He was speaking not only of physical food, but also our spiritual food. So, I just wanted to help in providing a way to help people in reading the Bible. This is not “THE way,” and perhaps you already have a method, but if you don’t, I recommend that you try this one out a “A way.” This does involve writing, which I think is helpful in processing information. The method I have used for the past 7 years, at least, is called the S.O.A.P. method. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. I think it is helpful no matter where you are at in the spiritual journey, from seeker to newborn to spiritually mature.
The first step is “Scripture.” This means that you pick a chapter, passage, paragraph, or verse that you want to look at more closely. One of the best ways that you can pick a passage is by having a Bible reading plan. You can find many different options in a post here. The choice of what scripture you want to write on is up to you.
“Observation” is the second step. This is normally the largest of the four steps. It means simply to “observe” and interpret what is going on. In this step, you can write of summary of what you just read, which helps you know the poem/prophecy/story even better. You can also write down questions that you might have, which you want to ask somebody about later. You might write down some insight that you never had noticed before. You might write how this text is directly speaking to a particular situation in your life. It’s all up to you what you write, and how much you write!
“Application” is where you ask: “How will I change because of what I just read?” or “What does this mean to my life now?” or “What is God calling me to do based on this text?” This is normally a sentence or two, and it is the “so what” of your devotional.
“Prayer” can either be written or spoken. I normally write mine out. Here, I ask God to change my heart, based on the application I just made. I also pray at this point for friends and family, church members, and other specific requests.
Now, give it a try! Use a Bible reading plan, and go for it.
Here is an example below! I have made it pretty simple, but the length and complexity of your devotion depends on the time you have and your knowledge of scripture, which increases the more you read.
Scripture: Mark 6:45-52
Observation: Jesus fed 5000 people, which was an incredible miracle, and then he sent his disciples in the boat ahead of him. The natural question in anybody’s mind would be, how will he get across the sea? Would he walk? That would be rough! The crowd had departed, and the disciples were gone, so he went to pray. If Jesus spent time to pray this certainly convicts me that I need to pray even more! When it finished praying, it might have been past midnight, which means at least several hours of prayer- certainly convicting to me again! Then, instead of walking around the lake, he decided to walk on the water! This is a miracle claim of Jesus, which nobody else was capable of doing. When the disciples saw him, they were afraid- I probably would have been scared too- nobody walks on water! But he spoke immediately to them, which comforted them. When he got into the boat, the wind ceased. The disciples were astounded- of course they were! What man can walk on water, get into the boat that people have been painfully rowing all night, and then make the wind cease? This is clearly a miracle story of Jesus, which is meant to show that Jesus is more than just a man. But I have two questions. First, I wonder why Mark writes that Jesus meant to pass by them until he was seen. Why didn’t he mean to go to them? I also wonder about the last verse: why is Mark mentioning the “loaves” of bread, and hardened hearts? I am just not sure.
Application: I want to commit to spending more time in prayer with God. I also want to ask these questions to my youth pastor, to see if he will know.
Prayer: God, help me to spend more time with you in prayer. Help me also to understand why the loaves are important. If I have a hard heart in any way, I ask that you reveal that to me. Amen.