How to Write a Devotional

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:14
Writing a devotional is a great way to share the insights and experiences you've had throughout your Christian walk. When you write a devotional, focus on one short passage—often, just one verse. Then, engage the reader by connecting that...
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Writing a devotional is a great way to share the insights and experiences you've had throughout your Christian walk. When you write a devotional, focus on one short passage—often, just one verse. Then, engage the reader by connecting that verse to an anecdote or a personal interpretation of that verse, and finish with a call to action. Once you're comfortable writing one devotional, try compiling a collection of them to submit to a publisher!

Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Formatting the Devotional

  1. Step 1 Choose a market to submit to and follow their formatting guidelines.
    Read the submission guidelines for your favorite devotional magazine or website, or search online for a list of current markets that accept devotional submissions. Each publisher's submission guidelines will typically include a word count. Stick to this as closely as possible. The guidelines may also specify the basic format structure the publisher requires or the devotional style they prefer. You might also need to tailor your devotional to the target audience for each publication.[1]
    • For example, you might choose a publisher who specializes in devotionals that are geared toward women and that are 150-250 words long.
    • When you're researching formatting guidelines, look for a submission calendar for that publisher. For instance, the publisher may put out a series of devotionals on the book of Psalms during the month of May, although the deadline for that collection might be in February.
    • If the publisher is affiliated with a certain denomination, you may need to take their particular tenets and beliefs into account while you're writing.

    Did You Know? Some publications that publish devotionals include Guideposts, The Upper Room, and Christianity Today.

  2. Step 2 Open with a scripture passage.
    Devotionals are often a study of just one verse from the Bible, although that may vary depending on the publisher. You might choose a verse or passage that explains a Biblical principle, or you could opt for one that includes a detail that you can expand into a universal truth. If you choose a passage that's longer than one verse, try to include just the section that directly deals with the topic you'll be discussing.[2]
    • Different versions of the Bible can have slightly different wording, so be sure to double-check that your verse is exactly the same as the version you cite.
    • If you're already working with a publisher, they may provide you with the passage. You could also choose a verse to fit a submission calendar, or you could find a passage that you feel is appropriate for your chosen market's target audience.
    • For instance, if you want to submit to a collection of devotionals centered on the book of Psalms, you might choose a verse like Psalms 22:14: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me."
  3. Step 3 Use a story to engage the reader right away.
    After you present your verse, open your devotional with an engaging anecdote or a vivid picture of what's being described in the verse. This might only be a few sentences long, but it should catch the reader's attention right away.[3]
    • Don't be afraid to let your personality show! Readers will relate better to your devotionals if you're authentic.
    • For your devotional on Psalms 22:14, for example, you might share a personal example of a time you were grieving, such as: "In the fall of 2012, I was a wreck. I'd just been fired from my first real job, and then I got the call that my father had passed away. He was my spiritual mentor and my best friend, and I didn't know what I was going to do without him."
  4. Step 4 Connect the story to your interpretation of the Bible passage.
    Once you've captured the reader's attention with a story, draw a clear line between your illustration and the passage. Keep the focus narrow—a devotional should focus on one main point of the verse, rather than trying to explain the whole thing.[4]
    • For instance, you might connect your story of grief back to Psalms 22:14 by saying something like: "I felt weak and empty—as though my bones had slipped out of joint, my heart had melted like wax, and my emotions had all been poured out. I felt like I wasn't in control of my body or my mind, but in the middle of that haze, something deep within me urged me to pray. I don't think there were even words—just a soul crying out to God. King David felt similarly broken and defeated, and yet his heart still called out for God."
  5. Step 5 Relate the story back to a universal truth.
    You don't want the focus of the devotional to just be on yourself, even if you include a personal story in the passage. Try to include something relatable or universal so the reader can apply what they're reading to their own life, like a general statement about love, life, or loss, or a Biblical truth about God's love or power.[5]
    • In your devotional on Psalms 22:14, you might say something like, "Whether you're grieving a recent loss or there's an unhealed hurt in your past that you can't move past, God's love is big enough to heal your pain."
  6. Step 6 Conclude with a prayer and a call to action.
    Challenge the reader to do something to help bring them closer to their loved ones, overcome an obstacle in their life, or pray about a problem they're having. Then, include a sample prayer they might say as they're meditating on their devotional for that day.[6]
    • For example, you might conclude your Psalms devotion with something like: "Try saying this prayer today: 'Dear Lord, please comfort my broken heart. Help me understand how to use this hurt for Your glory, and guide me as I try to figure out my path. In Jesus' name, Amen.'"
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Fine-Tuning Your Writing

  1. Step 1 Pray before you write.
    Writing a devotional is an inherently spiritual process, so don't just reduce it to word counts and catchy anecdotes. Before you write—and throughout the process—pray earnestly that God will guide you so you can share His truth in a way that glorifies Him.
    • It may help to write your devotional after you've done your own morning prayers and Scripture reading.
  2. Step 2 Try to focus on one aspect of the passage.
    When you're choosing the topic for your devotional, try not to let it become overly complicated. It's easy to take a deep dive into theology, but devotionals are meant to inspire the reader to meditate on some aspect of their own life.[7]
    • If you narrow your focus, it will also be easier to meet word count limits.
    • For instance, if you're writing about John 15:13, which says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends," you wouldn't write about all of the different types of love people have for each other. Instead, you might write about the deep love shown when someone sacrifices themselves.
  3. Step 3 Consider the market's target audience when you're writing.
    The most effective devotionals are able to strike a balance between being very personal and universal. To ensure you're able to craft a message that will really hit home with your reader, think about who you're writing for, and use stories, examples, and language that will apply to them.
    • For instance, if you're writing about forgiveness and you're submitting to a market geared toward married Christian couples, you might write about forgiving your spouse. However, if the market is geared toward teens, you might write about forgiving your friends, parents, or siblings instead.
  4. Step 4 Write with a positive, uplifting tone.
    Even if your devotionals are calling out a specific sin described in the Bible, it's important that you avoid having a judgmental tone or seeming like you're talking down to the reader. Instead, try to write in a way that's relatable and encouraging, and that always emphasizes God's love, goodness, and forgiveness.[8]
    • For instance, you wouldn't want to say, "You've probably told a lie, right? That's a sin, and everyone who sins is going to hell." Instead, you might share a story about a time you told a lie to be polite, then got caught.
  5. Step 5 Avoid controversial topics.
    Sometimes, theology can be a landmine full of differing opinions and interpretations of Scripture. With that in mind, try to steer away from complex, emotionally-charged topics that are frequently a source of division. Instead, try to focus on truths that anyone could apply to their own life, regardless of their stance on morally ambiguous issues.
    • For instance, it's best to avoid writing about politics, sexuality, free will vs. predetermination, or whether Scripture is meant to be interpreted literally or as a metaphor.
    • You may need to take the publication's denominational affiliation into account when you're deciding whether a topic is controversial. For instance, many Southern Baptists frown on drinking any alcohol at all, so it would be best to avoid writing about drinking in moderation if you were writing for a Baptist devotional magazine.
    • If you do feel led to write about topics that are controversial within the church, consider publishing them as blogs, articles on Christian websites, or even in book form. Devotionals might not be the best fit for these subjects, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write about them at all.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Creating a Devotional Manuscript

  1. Step 1 Study your Bible each day.
    Sometimes you'll have an idea for a devotional and you'll need to find the right verse in your daily reading. Other times, you'll read a verse that will spark the idea for an entry. Either way, maintaining a vigilant daily Bible study is essential if you want to have a fresh perspective on God's word.
    • Read each passage carefully so you don't accidentally write a devotional with a verse that's taken out of context.
  2. Step 2 Take a notebook with you everywhere you go.
    When you're focused on applying Biblical truths to real-world dilemmas, you'll likely start to come up with story ideas as you go about your day-to-day business. To ensure you can jot ideas down as they come to you, always carry a small notebook and a pen in your purse or pocket.
    • Each night, read through your notes and try to match them up with any verses that come to mind.
  3. Step 3 Keep your entries consistent.
    When you're compiling a collection of devotionals, they should all be similar in length and tone. It can also help to have an audience and their particular denomination in mind, since this can help shape the focus of each entry.[9]
    • For instance, you might write a devotional book geared toward for teens, new mothers, busy professionals, or people who are grieving.
  4. Step 4 Choose a number of devotionals to coincide with a calendar.
    For instance, you might 30 devotionals so you have a month-long study, you could write 52 entries so you'd have one entry a week for a year, or you could write a year-long daily devotional book with 365 entries.[10]
    • If you're working with a publisher, they may specify how many entries to include.
  5. Step 5 Proofread your devotionals carefully.
    Once you've finished writing your collection, put them all aside for a week, a month, or longer. Then, come back to them and read them carefully, checking for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as issues with tone and phrasing.
    • Try reading each entry backward—start with the last sentence and work your way to the first. This proofreading trick can sometimes help you find errors you wouldn't otherwise.
    • It's often a good idea to ask someone else to help you proofread since they might catch errors that you won't see.
  6. Step 6 Submit your collection to Christian publishers.
    When you're satisfied that your entries are ready for publication, send your manuscript to your preferred publishers. Remember to always be professional, courteous, and prompt in any communication with your publishers.[11]
    • Even if your manuscript is accepted, keep in mind that your collection will likely need to go through revisions with an editor. Be sure to carefully adhere to any deadlines, and don't take any editing suggestions personally.
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