Friday, July 24, 2009

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals - Part 1

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals
Friday—The Writer's Porch

A couple of weeks ago, I asked what everyone would like to discuss on The Writer’s Porch. I put out a few suggestions. The winner for this series is “Short-Bread—How to Write Great Devotions.” So for the next few sessions, we will study and write devotionals. As we work through this series take note of what makes a great devotional, write it and submit it to a publication. (If you are attending She Speaks this year or have previously attended Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference we occasionally accept She Speaks graduates' devotionals.)

I have written 2-3 devotionals a month for Proverbs 31 Ministries, plus contributed 22 devos for our book, God's Purpose for Every Woman. In addition, I have written Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents—What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say, which is my most recent book. It is a prayer devotional for parents of wayward children. Plus, I have been published in several daily devotional magazines. Alright, enough of the credentials for devotional writing—let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of devos.

In John 1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In addition, Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” When writing a devotional the foundation is the Scripture. Usually just one or two verses, no more, thus it can be considered "shortbread." A devo’s intention is to give the reader a new insight into the Word of God and God's character. The author of devotionals desires the reader either to be uplifted, to change a behavior, or inspire a deeper relationship with God. Devotional writing should encourage the reader to meditate upon their relationship with God. In fact, in some publications they refer to devotionals as meditations. Devotionals or meditations are interchangeable terms. For the ease of chatting and teaching, I will usually refer to them in the form of “devos."

Now as we proceed on how to write great devos keep in mind each section needs to point back to God. Keep the “devotion” in your devo. A shortbread usually consists of four main elements. The title, a Scripture verse, the main body, and a closing prayer. Each part must connect together and bring the reader to the intended response—a closer walk with God—devotion.

For the next few weeks, we will analyze each element. Until then, I encourage you to read a few devotional books. Note the ones that speak the most to you. Jot down what you particularly liked about each of them. Start to ponder and scribble ideas for your own shortbread devos. At the end of this series I will have you email me your devotions. I will publish my favorite on my blog. Plus, I will be holding a contest for the best title and I will be giving away one of my books.

Get to thinkin'!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to teach your readers this lesson. I feel like the Lord has placed it on my heart to start working towards writing devos. I'm gonna keep praying and reading your blogs. Who knows maybe God will use me in a this type of day! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog this morning after reading my Proverbs 31 devotional. I am excited to learn more about writing devotionals. Thank you for sharing your God given talent.