There are so many times that I speak with people about hearing God. The good news for us is that we CAN actually HEAR from Him! Not only that, but we CAN actually engage in CONVERSATION with Him! Below is a devotional tool, P.S.O.A.P., which has been a help to me and to many others over the years to begin to engage in meaningful conversation with the Living God.
Question (Q): What is P.S.O.A.P.?
Answer (A): P.S.O.A.P. is a devotional tool that was developed by a man who served as an associate pastor for many years at New Life Church in order to help people engage in meaningful and transformational devotions with the Lord.
Christianity is not merely a religion but also a relationship with the Living God through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is important that we individually and corporately learn how to engage and grow in our relationship with God! All relationships grow through time spent together and through conversation with one another. P.S.O.A.P. is a tool to help us grow in our relationship with God by spending time with Him through genuine conversation.
Q: Who should want to do P.S.O.A.P.?
A: Do you desire to grow in your relationship with God? Do you want to better understand and live out God’s Word? Do you long to HEAR God’s voice more clearly? Do you want signposts or altars of remembrance which enable you to look back and see how God has moved and is working in your life?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, P.S.O.A.P. can help you!
JUST REMEMBER: As with all relationships and conversations, we get out of them what we put into them. If you allow this tool to help you encounter and engage with God in meaningful relationship, your life will be transformed!
Q: What do I need to do a P.S.O.A.P.?
A: All you need to do a P.S.O.A.P. is: 1) A Bible; 2) Something to work as a P.S.O.A.P. journal (i.e., notebook, journal, word document, etc.); 3) Approx. 15 minutes of your time; and 4) Yourself!
Q: How does P.S.O.A.P. work?
A: P.S.O.A.P. is an acronym, each letter representing a word, that helps us engage in conversation with God as we spend time with Him in prayer and the Word of God.
- P. is for PRAYER
- S. is for SCRIPTURE
- O. is for OBSERVATION
- A. is for APPLICATION
- P. is for PRAYER
P = PRAYER: Following the acronym, we begin our time and our conversation with God through PRAYER. This first prayer is your opportunity to open the conversation with God and to invite Him to engage in a conversation with you! If you want to write out this prayer: do so! If not, that is fine. Having prayed and asked God to speak, it is now time for us to open our ears and listen to God speak! How?
S = SCRIPTURE: God does speak! And God PRIMARILY speaks to us through His Word, which is the Scripture/Bible. We need to get in the habit of seeing the Bible as the primary means by which the Holy Spirit speaks to us! EVERY TIME we read the SCRIPTURE we hear God speak! So, after asking God to speak to us, we open His Word and listen to His voice as we read!
While it is great to read large sections of Scripture, the devotional nature of P.S.O.A.P. calls us to read shorter portions of Scripture, normally only ONE to THREE chapters at the most! These chapters should NOT be random, though if God leads you to read something specific – read that!!!
If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest a chapter from Psalms (it is a great book to help us worship and pray to our God), a chapter from Proverbs (it is a great book to help us grow in wisdom in normal day to day life), and a chapter from another book of your choice. IF YOU ARE A NEW CHRISTIAN, I recommend starting with the Gospel of John!!!
If you plan to only read one chapter for your P.S.O.A.P., then alternate between those three books (i.e., the first day: Psalm 1; the second day: Proverbs 1, the third day: John 1, etc.). If you plan to read all three, then read one chapter from each. When you finish the books of Psalms or Proverbs, READ THEM AGAIN! When you finish the other book start a different one! This will keep prayer, worship, and daily life at the forefront while allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you throughout His entire Word!
The only thing you write in your P.S.O.A.P. journal or notebook at this point is the REFERENCE to the Scripture(s) you read (i.e., “S. John 1, Psalm 1, Proverbs 1). Don’t write out the text itself! Just write the reference so you can look back and see what you read when God spoke to you at a later date! As you read the Scripture, pay attention! This is God speaking to you! Even if what you are reading does not make sense to you at the time, just listen and keep reading! God is speaking to you in His Word!
O = OBSERVATION: After HEARING God speak to us in His Word, we now OBSERVE what God just said to us! The question we ask ourselves here is: “What did God just say to me in His Word?” DO NOT try to interpret what He said here! That comes next! This step is to help us become GOOD LISTENERS to God! This means that we need to be paying attention when we read the Scripture!
At this point of the PSOAP, think back and write in your own words what God said to you in His Word. You do not need to write every detail or get it word for word, just write what God said. If something jumped out at you when you were reading – write that! If nothing jumped out at you, just highlight different things that God said to you in His Word. If you don’t remember anything, you need to either write, “I don’t remember what God just said to me.” Or better yet, you need to go back to the Scripture and re-read it and listen to God!
A = APPLICATION: You are almost done! Here is where you ask yourself two questions: “Why did God say that to me?” and “What does God want me to do with this, if anything?” You may be surprised how easy this part is as God begins to speak to your life and the situations you are facing through His Word!
REMEMBER: No one is reading this P.S.O.A.P. but you and God so don’t make things up! Be honest with yourself and God. This is where transformation begins, as we begin to apply what God said to us to our current situations!
If you don’t know why God would say that to you, that is OK! Write that! “I don’t know why God wanted me to hear that.” But if you do know, or think you know, then write that! “God said this to me because….” Or, “Maybe God said this to me because…” The more honest you are here, the more God will be able to transform you! After writing your application, you then go to the last step: PRAYER.
P = PRAYER: Just as you began your time and conversation with God by praying, you end it with prayer. Here, you are thanking God for speaking to you and are responding to what He just said. This is genuine conversation! You invited Him to speak, He spoke to you in His Word, you thought about what He said and why He said it, and now you respond to Him!
If God told you to change something, then do it! Talk to Him about that! If you don’t know why God told you what He told you, tell Him that! And maybe ask Him to help you know why He said what He said to you!
Unlike the first prayer, THIS PRAYER SHOULD BE WRITTEN DOWN! This written prayer will be a tangible sign for you to look back on in the future, an altar experience with God, and you will be able to see what God has said to you and how you responded. In the future as you look back you will find either great encouragement from these prayers or you will perhaps find a prayer that you need to pray again and act upon!
Q: What does a completed P.S.O.A.P. look like?
A: Here is an example of a P.S.O.A.P. I had done:
Date: Jan. 3, 2015.
P. Heavenly Father, I ask that you would meet with me and speak to me this day in your Word. Please help me to hear from you and to act according to your will. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
S. Genesis 32
O. Jacob was journeying back to his home land and was met by a camp of angels. He then sent word to tell his brother Esau he was returning and was afraid after hearing his brother was coming with 400 men! Jacob prayed to God telling God his fear of his brother and reminding God of His faithfulness to Jacob. Jacob prepared a gift to try to appease his brother and then wrestled with a man until day break. The man blessed Jacob and changed his name to Israel. Jacob named that place Peniel “the face of God” because he had seen God face to face and did not die.
A. God has promised me things and has been faithful… yet I have still been fearful and worried about events I am facing. I have wrestled with God, though He has blessed and accepted me… so why do I fear and worry when the Lord is with me?
P. Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you for your faithfulness and love towards me. I have been concerned about many things that I see coming my direction in days ahead. Forgive me for my worry and doubting that you are with me and are guiding me. Help me to trust you more. Help me be more concerned about how I stand before your face rather than how others may receive me. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
-With Love in the Lord, Pastor Chris Montgomery