How to Write Devotionals

how to write devotionals

[Monthly Columnist – Wendy van Eyck] – Starting this January, I am introducing a few new regular contributors who will be guest blogging on a monthly basis.

I asked Wendy because we share a common love of devotionals. She runs the site and lives in South Africa. She has written on my site about facing her husband’s cancer within the first year of marriage. I admire her courage and welcome her to with open arms.

How To Write Devotionals

I have always loved writing about God sticking his fingers into our everyday lives.

I have loved the way you can look at something in your life – good or bad – and see God’s fingerprints all over it. And I loved crafting words that helped others see his presence in our lives.

I didn’t always write about these experiences as devotionals.

I used to write about them in long articles or shorter blog posts.

Once I even wrote about a whole year in my life and compiled it into a book.

It was after hearing a talk by Phil Cooke about finding your One Big Thing that I started writing devotionals. He challenged me that there was one thing I was passionate about, one thing I was good at and that I should try become an expert at that one thing.

Instantly, I knew writing was my one big thing.

What I didn’t know was what genre of writing to focus on. I prayed and thought and started reading what I’d written over the past 10 years and suddenly a light bulb went on: I write devotionals.

Problem was my devotionals were very long and lacked structure.

I set about reading other peoples devotionals and trying to break down what they did, what worked, and what didn’t.

Here is just about everything I’ve learnt about writing a devotional:

1. Live: I like to write devotionals out of real life experiences so I’ve found that if I’m out there meeting people and going places it is easier to have something to write about. I find that it is often when I mess up, say something stupid or meet someone interesting that God pops an idea or verse for a devotional into my head.

2. Pray: Writing about God carries a great responsibility with it and I am constantly aware of this. I know what I write can impact a person’s spiritual life positively or negatively so I pray about what I write before, during and after. Every time I write a devotional I pray that I will write truth and that I will write something that will help others see how much God likes them.

3. Write: Perhaps one of the hardest – and most important – things for any type of writer is just to sit down and tap out the words on your heart.

4. Hook. Book. Look. Took. I’ve found that structure helps me share what God is doing and showing me in my life. For my devotionals I settled on the “Hook, Book, Look, Took” format. Basically this means you should begin with an interesting story, then link the story to the verse, take a look at what you think the verse is saying and then give the reader a question, thought or prayer to take away with them.

Devotionals aren’t easy to write.

Sometimes the structure and brevity of them is frustrating but they teach you how to share a story without waffling, how to write with the reader in mind and reveal all the places God is leaving his fingerprints in our lives.

wendyvaneyckWendy van Eyck lives in South Africa where she runs a 24-hour Gospel Music Television channel that broadcasts to 47 African countries. She loves traveling with her husband, and they’re currently planning next years trip. Her website features devotionals that range from learning about God while doing laundry to discovering biblical truths while caring for her cancer fighting husband. Follow her on twitter: @wendyvaneyck.

[Photo: Erunion, Creative Commons]