Shawn’s S.O.A.P. – Unanswered Prayers?

My friend Shawn Whitman is one of the men who joins me on Friday mornings at 6:00 a.m. at the Mountain View Diner in Frederick, MD. This weekly event is one of many “Ten-Man Tables” which make up the Waterboyz for Jesus, a men’s ministry that also practices hands-on serving of needy people. At our weekly table we share breakfast, fellowship together, and do a Bible study together using the S.O.A.P. format (Scripture – Observation – Application – Prayer). Here is Shawn’s S.O.A.P. from this morning:

SCRIPTURE — 2 Corinthians 4:16 – …We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e]being renewed every day. (New Living Translation)

OBSERVATION — Although it seems like half the prayers I request don’t appear to come about, I’ve observed that the prayer routine I’ve adopted has helped me to proceed forward and draw closer to the Almighty and Lord.

APPLICATION — It makes the days appear to go smoother, and though I may not see the results for the material things requested, I feel that the Lord is with me and that things work on His time and not mine. His will be done, not mine. It also helps to keep me in the moment, knowing that things will come about in His time and way.

PRAYER — Father, please help us keep our eyes on Your promises, and on the unseen things that the world’s eyes and ears are shut to. Please keep our eyes open and ears unplugged, and hearts and minds open, to be aware of that which is happening about us on all levels of our being. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask this of You, Father. Amen.

S.O.A.P. – Faded Glory

(S.O.A.P. – Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

SCRIPTURE – 2 Corinthians 3:7 – “That old system of law etched in stone led to death, yet it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face… [but] the brightness was already fading away.” (New Living Translation)

OBSERVATION – This passage is remarkable because it speaks so disparagingly of the old covenant (v.10 – “that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new covenant.” ) And v. 13 – “the glory fading away.” The glory of Jesus, and His way, are far superior to the glory of the first covenant given by God to the Israelites through Moses. This new covenant is based on what Christ has done for humans. Our Savior is the perfection of glory, and we reflect His glory by putting all our trust and confidence in Him.

APPLICATION / PRAYER – Father, give me eyes to see the glory of Jesus even more clearly. Reveal even more of Your beauty and glory to my heart, which is too often distracted or wandering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

S.O.A.P. – Triumphal Procession

S.O.A.P. — Scripture, Observation. Application. Prayer.

(written at this morning’s “Waterboyz for Jesus” table)

SCRIPTURE — 2 Corinthians 2:14But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” (New Living Translation)

OBSERVATION — God leads us in triumphal procession. He leads us in triumph, not in defeat. In Him and through Him we have victory — we can live a victorious life. Victory over sin, victory over the evil one and his wiles, victory over discouragements and difficult circumstances. God’s purpose is to spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ, through us, to all the world.

APPLICATION / PRAYER — “Father, use me in any way You wish, to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus to everyone in my world, and around Your world. Amen!”   

S.O.A.P. – Audacious Faith?

(S.O.A.P. — Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

SCRIPTURE:  2 Corinthians 1:8-11 — We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

OBSERVATION:  The beauty of extreme difficulty is that we are forced to trust God exclusively.

We cannot look to our own resources.

Our rescue is totally dependent upon God.

If He doesn’t come through, we are done for. Finished.

APPLICATION:  I need to put myself in this situation more often:

using audacious faith to begin great ventures;

ventures where only God has the necessary resources for success.

PRAYER:  Father, increase my faith, for Your glory!

S.O.A.P. – Suffering With Christ?

(S.O.A.P. — Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

SCRIPTURE — Romans 8:17and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, provide we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

OBSERVATION — Is our “heirship with Christ” dependent on suffering with him? I’m looking at the following verses which speak about “the sufferings of the present time” and creation’s “bondage to corruption” as it groans to “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” I believe that Paul is thinking of the “present suffering” which Christians share with every other human on this fallen, broken planet. He is probably also thinking of the persecution suffered by many believers in his day (and in our day as well). But the work of saving us – the work of redemption – was completed by Jesus on the cross.

APPLICATION / PRAYER — Father, help me to see my present trials as your plan to toughen me up, to strengthen my character, to build the character of your son Jesus within me. In His name, Amen.

S.O.A.P. – A Wide Open Door

(S.O.A.P. – Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

SCRIPTURE – 1st Corinthians 16:9 – “for there is a wide open door for a great work here, and many people are responding. But there are many who oppose me.” (New Living Translation)

OBSERVATION – Ephesus was a place of great opportunity for the spread of the gospel at this time, and Paul remained there rather than traveling on. It is wonderful to have a door wide open before you, and a great move of the Spirit bringing people into God’s kingdom. Sometimes the dark kingdom responds with a fierce counter-attack, and this can temper our enthusiasm, but hopefully not deter us from reaping while the reaping is good.

APPLICATION / PRAYER – Father, please open a wide door before us for your great work. Give us a time of reaping and spiritual fruitfulness. Help us also to discern the works of the enemy and stand firm against his attacks. In Jesus’ name, Amen.