by Bonita Y. McCoy
Do you love writing? Do you endeavor to encourage others, to lift them up in their daily walk with Christ? If so, then you may be a perfect candidate for writing devotions for such publications as Guideposts, Upper Room, Light from the Word, and Devo’Zine.
However, if you’ve never written a devotion before you might be wondering how to get started, so today, we are going to cover eight steps that will take the mystery out of devotional writing.
- Everything starts with God. Before you pick up that pen or put that first letter on the screen, seek the Lord. It’s the only way to be an effective instrument in his hand. A daily time of prayer and reading will give you resources from which to pull and allow you to see the circumstance in your own life as potential avenues to help others.
- Keep a journal. Using a journal to jot down experiences and events that happen in your day will give you ample material for anecdotes and stories for devotionals. Seeing how God’s word applies to your own life will help you to share how it can be applied in the lives of others. A journal is also a good place to keep scriptures that resonate with your own heart until there is a time that you can use them for the inspiration of others.
- Keep them short. A devotional should be somewhere between 100 and 225 words in length (check individual guidelines – some require higher word count). Since these are short, every word has to count. So, use strong verbs, descriptive nouns, and leave out the unnecessary adverbs.
- Focus on one point. A devotion should make one point and no more. If you find yourself trying to handle more than one point, break them up and write several different devotions with only one focal point each.
- Write a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like in a good essay, you want the first paragraph to go from broad to narrow. You want the middle to show the story or add meat to your point, and then you want the ending to restate the main point or wrap up the story with a clincher.
- Provide a buzz phrase or word. A buzzword or phrase is something catchy for the reader to remember. It can be a verse of scripture, a repeated word throughout the story, or a phrase that stands out and contains the point of the message. Something like: Saved by grace, loved by God. It’s catchy and easy for your reader to carry with him into his day.
- Choose key verses. Most publications ask for several verses to be listed for that days reading. You will need to provide those verses as well as the key verse for the devotion. When choosing these verses, you may want to read them in several translations to see how they differ and which ones best go with the focus of your lesson. Sometimes doing this will give you wonderful insights you otherwise might have missed and added depth to your writing.
- End with a call to action. A call to action is just what it sounds like. It is you, the writer, asking your reader to engage with you by following through with an action like prayer, journaling, answering a question, or simply reflecting on the thought of the day.
As with any good writing, you always check your facts, be diligent with your grammar, and give credit where credit is due.
The eight steps presented here will help you get started with your devotional writing; however, always be sure to check the submission guidelines for the individual publications. Each one is a little different in word count and how they want submissions sent.
“What I tell you now in darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear.” Matthew 10:27 (NLT).
May God whisper in your ear, and may He give you devotions to shout from the housetops!
Writing Prompt: The smell of the roses reminded Susanne of the verse about prayers being a sweet savor to the Lord. Perhaps this could be used as a devotion. Then she pricked her finger on a thorn, and the idea began to form.