How to Write a Devotional: The Definitive Guide

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How to Write a DevotionalOf all the markets open to new nonfiction writers, the devotional market is by far the most welcoming.

To get the lowdown on this vast opportunity, I went to the leader in the field, my favorite writing teacher in the country, Dr. Dennis E. Hensley.

Doc is chairman of the Department of Professional Writing at Taylor University and a monthly columnist for Christian Communicator magazine.

He’s also the author of 60 books, including numerous devotionals, such as Surprises and Miracles of the Season: for Christmas and New Year’s (Beacon Hill Press), and More Than Meets the Eye and Man to Man (both Kregel Publishers).

He has been head scriptwriter for the daily radio devotional program “Fresh Perspectives” on WBCL radio since 2006.

In more than three decades, I’ve never hosted a writers conference without asking Doc Hensley to speak. No one motivates writers like Doc, and no one knows devotional writing like he does.

So fasten your seatbelt and get ready to break into nonfiction writing with all the goodies he has to offer in this comprehensive guide.

I asked Doc about all aspects of writing and marketing devotionals, starting with what makes this such a huge market, especially for beginners.

Devotional books are released thematically for:

  • Teens
  • Men
  • Women
  • Grandparents
  • College students
  • Veterans
  • Teachers
  • Athletes
  • And just about any other people group you can think of

Devotionals are used by a wide variety of media, including large-circulation daily devotional guides, such as The Quiet Hour, The Upper Room, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, Devozine, Pathways to God,  and Wesleyan Church (These links will take you to their submission guidelines.)

More than 25 devotional quarterlies each publish 365 new entries each year. Naturally, these need fresh material annually.

Publishers of vacation Bible school and Sunday school materials often include devotionals for teachers and students. Many independent and denominational magazines (such as The War Cry and The Baptist Bulletin) run devotionals in each of their issues.

Some publishing houses produce not only devotional books, but also devotional desk calendars and greeting cards.

Again, this market must be replenished annually. Publications can’t just recycle devotionals they ran the previous year. They depend on freelance writers to provide hundreds upon hundreds of fresh, insightful new ones.

What You Should Bring to the Table

Writers of devotionals should have a pure heart (James 3:8-11). With humility, graciousness, and spiritual sensitivity, you can create something that can alter a reader’s thinking and behavior.

You also need a focused mind (Ps. 1:1-3; 73:28). A succinct and powerful message must be distilled to 150-175 words. This demands clarity.

And you must have a burning desire (Jeremiah 20:9). Ask for God’s guidance to say the right words to someone who may be reading a devotional published a year after you write it.

God is the Alpha, but He is also the Omega. He knows what hurts and needs people will have in the future, and He can use you to prepare materials today to help people during hard times tomorrow.

You won’t get rich writing devotionals. In fact, you may have to write a half dozen to see more than $100. That’s why it’s important to write them in batches to make it worth your while—not that you’re doing it solely for the money.

You can revise and resell your print devotionals as radio devotionals for about the same rate of pay. And you can collect your devotionals and publish them as a book, receiving an advance and royalties.

But beyond payment, you may also enjoy the deep gratification of readers telling you your words changed a mind about an abortion, a suicide, or a divorce.

Meeting Readers Where They Are

People turn to devotionals to meet deep needs. Some have lost friendships, been divorced, suffered from criticism, betrayal, or the death of a loved one. They need the balm of God’s comfort.

Others seek intimacy with God. Their prayer lives are lax, their testimonies weak, and their church attendance sporadic. They need to find their way back to Jesus.

Some just want to grow spiritually or to discover a better way to share their faith. Your devotional may be their only connection to the Bible all day.

A harried mom may read one just before bed.

A busy teacher may read one during lunch.

An executive may read one during breakfast.

The Writing Method

When you settle on a passage of Scripture as your anchor text, read it in different translations. Pray and meditate over it until you’re certain you thoroughly understand the verse in context.

Stay current by offering an illustration today’s reader can relate to. Link modern challenges and questions to longstanding solutions from God’s Word—and make the connections obvious and logical.

Doc Hensley’s Devotional Format Summary

Hook
An excellent lead and a compelling anecdote will grab and hold (hook) the reader’s attention.

Book
Point them to the wisdom of the Bible (book).

Look
Offer some unique way of seeing (look) how the Bible relates to his or her needs.

Took
Finally, provide takeaway (took) value.

Analyze your Scripture for what it says about God, about others, about you.

Does it:

  • Make promises, like, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”?
  • Issue commands, like, “You shall not steal”?
  • Establish principles, like, “What people sow, that will they also reap”?
  • Offer examples, like when Jesus said, “Follow Me”?
  • Present prayers, like The Lord’s Prayer?
  • Provide encouragement, like, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”?

Once you discover the true meaning and function of a passage, you’ll know how to help your readers relate to it.

We’re told that all Scripture is profitable, so explain how this passage will profit your reader. But remember, you’re not writing a Bible lesson, a history lesson, or a lecture. Offer an anecdote that applies the passage to your reader.

How do you keep it current? Ask yourself:

  • What issues are affecting families?
  • How are attitudes changing?
  • In what ways are values shifting?
  • How is the workplace different?
  • What national and global concerns make people anxious?

Read newspapers, blogs, and magazines. Listen to the news. Find a contemporary issue and draw a biblical parallel.

Runaway children? Look at the prodigal son.

Rebellious children? Cain and Abel.

Adultery and divorce? Hosea and Gomer.

Barren women? Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth.

Ministering to prisoners? Joseph, Peter, and Paul.

Any modern problem has a parallel story, lesson, judgment, or prediction in Scripture.

The Makings of a Good Devotional

Your reader is giving you a few minutes, and in exchange you must provide an engaging piece of writing that offers new insights. Be genuine and honest, not grandiose or admonishing.

Good devotional writing says, “Walk with me a few minutes. Examine something with me.”

Keep your style appropriate to your audience. Writing devotionals for teens is not the same as writing for seniors.

Although your anecdotes and illustrations should be drawn from your life, the lesson should always be drawn from Scripture.

Present God’s wisdom in a package your reader can relate to.

Stick with tangible images, things readers can see, touch, smell, hear, and taste.

Be specific, yet precise. Make each word count.

Use visual nouns, punchy verbs, short sentences, and the active voice.

Five Basic Patterns

Learn these and you can begin using them immediately:

 

1.  The Self-examination

Draw on personal experiences and use anecdotes to teach valuable lessons. Often such devotionals begin with:

“When I was in high school …”

“When I was fishing alone one morning …”

“During my first year at camp … .”

The recollection always has a moral or application that ties in with the selected Scripture.

 

2.  An Outside Observer Reports

Here you’re telling what happened to someone else. Real names may be used with permission, or changed, as long as the story is true.

Often these devotionals begin with a phrase such as:

“When my great-grandmother first came to America …”

“My best friend had just gotten his driver’s license …”

“Most people are unaware that George Washington … .”

 

3.  You Interact with Other People

Report on something you learned from a friend, coworker, or family member. Begin with a phrase such as:

“My son taught me a lesson one day when I was walking him to school …”

“My friend could always make me laugh …”

“One day my college history professor was explaining … .”

 

4.  The Object Lesson

Use a tangible object to parallel an event or circumstance. Jesus often used this format, employing such things as a mustard seed, a Roman coin, a lamp and a bushel, or a tower as metaphors.

Object lesson devotionals quickly make readers see the parallel between the object and the lesson. “Trees killed by saltwater brought in by a tsunami will still stand upright and take up space, but they will bear no fruit. People who come to church each Sunday and occupy a pew but do nothing all week to share their faith are like these trees.”

 

5.  The Double Meaning Phrase

Take a well-known line from advertising, history, a song, or a poem and convert it to a Christian message, as in “A day without Sonshine is a gloomy day.”

One devotional writer compared the rigid discipline of being a United States Marine to the discipline Christians should adhere to, calling the devotional, “Corps Values vs. Core Values.”

Developing a Devotional Journal

Because much of what we observe and say has potential to become material for a devotional, keep a journal for ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Begin today by answering:

  • Did God use a specific verse of Scripture to change your life? Hows did it affect your outlook?
  • Has God brought a person into your life to alter your direction? Like Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, how did someone suddenly enter your life as a teacher, friend, mentor, or accountability partner?
  • When did God make Himself known to you in a dramatic way? Did you receive an answer to prayer regarding a health issue, financial need, or spiritual awakening that proved He was working in your life? Record the details.
  • Had God ever reprimanded and brought you back in line when you were spiritually wayward? Explain how you felt God’s chastening and corrective hand.
  • Did God use a deep hurt in your life to make you sensitive to others or to show you new ways to be effective to those you serve?

In answering these questions, you’ll discover your life is a source of great lessons you can pass along.

Brainstorming More Devotional Topics

As you make entries in your devotional journal each day, try to recall:

  • A sad or funny experience you’ve had in the past year
  • Things you’ve learned while traveling
  • Challenging relationships with people at work, home, or school
  • Something you are an expert on
  • An item in a newspaper or magazine that fascinated you
  • An editorial or column you strongly disagreed with
  • An unusual experience or new challenge you’ve recently faced
  • An opinion based on years of experience
  • Something startling or insightful you recently learned from TV or a book
  • A new perspective you gained from a sermon
  • Societal trends that concern you
  • An event that restored your faith in mankind
  • Something related to science, nature, weather, or time that stunned you
  • A trip to a museum that awakened a new appreciation for nature
  • A new job assignment that has stretched you
  • A family picnic or class reunion that gave you a special perspective
  • Letters or diaries you recently discovered
  • A poem or song that keeps coming to mind
  • Volunteer work that helped you see the suffering of others
  • A friend’s sickness or accident that alarmed you

Avoiding Blind Spots

Although certain publications use devotionals targeted to teens, working women, or seniors, most devotionals you will write will be read by a broad spectrum. So keep in mind:

  • People live in many different financial and social conditions.
  • The distinctive beliefs of many denominations and theological traditions are precious to people and must be respected.
  • Some readers have limited education. So keep things simple but not condescending.
  • People in other countries may not understand your slang and pop culture references.
  • It is usually better not to write devotionals that stir controversy. So avoid topics such as infant baptism, female ordination, or speaking in tongues.

The Basic Format

Before submitting a devotional, obtain a publication’s writers guidelines and copies of the publication itself. Follow the guidelines exactly.

Your name, address, and phone number should appear on each page. But some publications also ask for your email address.

The basic format calls for a suggested passage of Scripture (usually 5 to 12 verses), a title, one printed-out specific verse from the suggested reading, and an anecdote or story that shows how that biblical lesson applies today.

The writer’s byline usually appears at the end.

Some publications ask that you begin or end with a prayer or thought for the day.

Length varies, from as short as 75 words to as long as 225.

The guidelines will state the preferred method of submission.

Some editors like printouts mailed to the publication’s office. Some like email submissions. Some accept either.

Most publications buy first rights, important because you can then re-use your devotionals in books.

Summary

Writing devotionals is a good way to enter nonfiction writing, earn money, and make a positive impact on thousands of readers. Your experiences and those of others are rich sources for ideas.

How to Get Started

1) List 20 emotional hurts people are dealing with (loneliness, depression, guilt, shame, abandonment, grief, prejudice, etc.). Then list what aspects of spiritual growth could come out of each such experience (learning to pray more effectively, learning to bring the Good News to others, cultivating humility, etc.).

2) Start a devotional journal.

3) Try writing a one-page devotional and submit it to one of the devotional markets listed in The Christian Writer’s Market Guide.

You’re on your way!

Free Download:

I’ve put together a tool to help you generate ideas for devotionals. It has:

  • Brainstorming techniques
  • Two sample devotionals by Doc Hensley
  • A proven process for quickly churning out powerful devotionals

You can click here or below to download this bonus for free:

Surefire Ideas for How to Write a Devotional

In the comments section, answer this: What will your next devotional be about?

  • Karen Crider

    I have written devotions for church and have read them from the pulpit. Not a lot, but a few. The Scriptures are full of wisdom and instruction. They are a lifetime education from the One Who tells us to wear knowledge like a garland around our neck. Who wouldn’t profit from its inspiration? Who doesn’t need the support of its depths?

  • Angela Parlin

    I’ve only written a few devotions for publications, but most of my blog posts tend to be devotional, so I think this is something I need to pursue. Thank you for this post and your guidance…I’m printing this to use as a guide to improve my technique!

  • Olga

    Very good article on devotions, I have never come across one, thank you! Yes this article helps me to get going on what kind and style I like to do in a devotional. I have a few ideas, and love the format and lessons on how to get started.

  • Lamar Ennis

    Many years ago my pastor learned of my passion for writing. He was gracious enough to allow me the opportunity to write a piece for each Sunday’s church bulletin. Looking back, I think those articles were obscure and pedantic to most of my fellow believers. Thanks for your clear direction and vision. If I should ever again feel worthy enough to write devotional or inspirational submissions, your advice will be solid gold.

  • Such sound and helpful advice! Thank you, Jerry and Dr. Hensley. I write and post weekly devotionals on forgiveness, as a follow-up to my book, A Devotional Walk with Forgiveness. Many times I have posted something that seemed just okay to me, but then I’d receive a word from someone saying it was exactly the message they needed to hear on that day in that circumstance. God takes our humble offerings and uses them miraculously to minister in His Name to people we’ll never meet.

  • Jeaninne

    Jerry, thank you for this very helpful post on devotional writing. I’ve been writing devotions for some time now, and am wondering, if my goal is to be a professional Christian writer and to generate income as a professional writer, if the best way to utilize my devotions is by publishing a book of devotions, rather than submitting them to different markets and getting paid a nominal fee for each one. What is your advice about how I should best use my devotions that I have acquired?

    • The best way to generate a platform and an audience that might land you a book contact would be to grow a reputation for placing effective devotionalsin a variety of markets, Jeaninne.

      • Jeaninne

        Jerry, thanks so much for responding to my question. I really appreciate your advice. What if I’ve already been building a platform by sending my devotions out each month via a weekly email list I created, similar to what you do each week when you send your weekly posts out to us? Would you recommend I continue building my audience this way, as I seek to add subscribers to this list on a weekly basis?

  • Pam Richards Watts

    Thank you for putting together such specific and useful information. As a fledgling writer and speaker, I got my start with devotionals, and they are close to my heart still. I appreciate such a fresh look at them, finding new inspiration to return to my “first love.” Thank you as always for serving up such wonderful advice!

  • Interesting to find this on the Internet the day after finishing the only devotional book I’ve ever actually liked. Maybe I’ll write a devotional blog post some day.

  • Charles McCracken

    Thank you for the information on writing devotionals. Recently, I have been thinking seriously about writing a devotional blog. My purpose would be to communicate the word of God in a way that helps others understand its principles in a practical, relevant way that the Spirit can use to jog the heart and mind.

  • Thank you for more information on writing devotionals. I wrote the women’s devotion column for our church newsletter for several years. I’ve been thinking about putting them into a book. I’ve also been asked to consider writing a devotional for our local library for people to use when they are asked to lead a devotional either at a meeting or at a nursing home. Apparently they don’t have very many and people are asking for it. My blog is more of a devotional type blog as I look at scriptures. So, I am excited to use this information to go further with my writing.

  • I am looking forward to using this information to write more and better devotions. Thank you both for pouring into the ministries of others. Blessings!

  • Sally Larkin Green

    I have been told before that I should write a devotional but I dismissed the idea. I think II should look into it a bit deeper. Thank you Jerry for sharing this information.

  • Ruth Tredway

    Thanks for sharing this information. It’s good to be reminded that writing projects come in many sizes and forms, and all of them can be used by Him.

  • Ann Broughton

    Thank you so much. I have written devotions for my blog site, Face Book, and for our local newspaper.Many people have told me that they have been blessed by them. I have published some for Kindle on Amazon but only sold it to my friends so I took it off. I will look into publishing now that I read this.

  • Joris Heise

    Is this what you mean by a “devotional.” It is just not a term I am familiar with:

    September 16, 2015

    The good news for today

    Jesus spoke to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this
    generation? What are they like? They’re like kids sitting in the playground and calling to one another, ‘We played music for you, but you didn’t dance to our music. We sang a playground rhyme, but you didn’t play our game.’” (Luke 7)

    “This generation,” for Jesus, refers to people coasting through life, drifting, merely born, merely breathing. “This generation” contrasts those people not grown up and not responsive to God’s world—with people who have been “born AGAIN”—the “next” generation.

    How are people of “this generation” like these children? The answer: Popular pressure. People want you to behave like them—comfortably amassing money for security, getting away with cheating, lazily ignoring injustice, stepping on people to get ahead, exaggerating their own importance, and acting indifferent to neighbors. They want you to look down on others, to revenge wrongs and to sustain popular prejudices that hurt poor, sick and imprisoned people, the prejudices you grew up with.

    They do not want you to reflect, and to “play your own game” of following Jesus.

    The Good News is that you have become your own person. You have chosen your own way, independent of culture. You have a conscience. You respond to people in need, not to people who pressure you. You recognize hypocrisy, seductions, and temptations of ‘the world’ for what they are, so that you can go your own way, whatever the consequences. You have become a wise adult—not just an overgrown child who never grew up enough to become a “child again.” You are a child of God—not of “their games.”

    • Those are good points, Joris, but I think you’ll find publishers asking you to sound a bit more come-along side than preachy.

      In our free download we include a couple of samples of Doc Hensley’s approach.

      • Joris Heise

        Thank you much!

  • Eunice Boss Dailey

    Many years ago I wrote devotionals for a newsletter I did for folks who prayed for missionaries at a given hour each day. The missionaries in that organization also received the newsletter, and I was blessed to learn that some looked forward to receiving that newsletter and the devotional specifically. Whenever I’ve had opportunities to share devotionals publicly, God has always provided the insights in advance. Writing devotionals is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I’ve not yet checked out the current market in the new Christian Writer’s Market that Jerry recently published. Is that guide the best way to find markets for devotionals?

    • That and the free download we provided with this post, Eunice.

  • Lee

    Ivwill be sharing this blog post with my author friends at Writers Guild this Saturday,

  • Lee

    I will be sharing this blog post at Writers Guild this Saturday

  • Linda

    I recently opened myself more completely to God’s leading and wonder if this is something He has in mind for me. Only He knows and I will wait on Him. I am saving this for future reference.

  • Cathy Gross

    Format and avoiding blind spots was helpful. This particular blog is a Godsend to me. I have approximately fifty entries ready but need to find appropriate scriptures for each. Thank you for the blog and for bringing Doc Hensley to us at seminars. His dynamic approach and love for words make him an excellent teacher and story teller. How i wish I was a student sitting in his classroom. You both bless us more than you know!

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Cathy. Doc’s the best.

  • Julie Nunn

    Thank you Jerry! As a new writer I found this article to be very helpful, encouraging and to the point. Loved it!

  • Linda VanderWier

    I am very interested in this market and found this article quite helpful and encouraging. My biggest obstacle is obtaining sample issues of publications on a limited budget. Any suggestions?

    • Probably the most economical way, Linda, would be to refer to The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2015-16 (see my Home page). That would be a one-time purchase that would give you the most information in one spot.

  • FrancesCopelandLucas

    Thank you very much for the insight. I do take my devotional writing seriously. This is good information and tells me I am on track and also reminds me I can continue fine-tuning my devotionals. Do you have anything on marketing your devotionals?
    Thank you!
    Frances Copeland Lucas

    • There’s a lot on marketing them in the free download and in The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2015-16 (see my Home page), Frances.

  • Robyn Menzies Porter

    Thank you so much for this inspiring and helpful article. I have wanted to write devotional material for a long time and this post has really spurred me on to do so. You are always so helpful to the writers in God’s kingdom. Thank you for your generous spirit in sharing your God-given gifts and talents.

  • James Hendrix

    Thank you for sharing these great ideas for writing devotionals. Several years ago, I took writing classes from Dr. Dennis Hensley (one of the best writing teachers). Dr. Hensley taught his students not only how to craft good devotionals, but also how to get them published. Thanks for including Dr. Hensley’s suggestions in your blog.

  • Charlotte Wheat

    God constantly amazes me. In recent months my thoughts have continued to go to devotional writing. Thank you, Jerry, for this insightful, helpful and timely blog that answers my questions about how, where, what and why. With His guidance and your help I’m sure to make it … someday.

  • I so struggle. In the depth of my soul I can’t find anything more exciting than sharing those moments when God turns my mundane and tedious into holy moments. I would love nothing more than people to see the Lord and His deep love for us. But then I realize how it all has been said a million times and so much better than I could ever say it. I read your post and that flicker of hope that God could use me and what I have to say gets snuffed out. Yep, I struggle.
    THANKS for your encouragement, Jerry!

    • You know that’s just the enemy, Heidi, wanting to keep you on the sidelines. Shut him up and get in the game. You can do it.

  • Lyndie Blevins

    Doc Hensley is one of my favorite teachers, too. Thanks for sharing his wise words.

  • Bonnie

    I needed this…I’ve stopped blogging because others were “reading over my shoulder” and I just became too fearful of saying the the wrong thing? I love, love to write and am eager to learn more.
    Thanks for the encouragement. I am asking the Lord for wisdom on how to proceed.

    • Bonnie, I have to ask: why were you blogging if you didn’t want people reading over your shoulder? Fear not! You have something to say, and people need to hear it. :)

      • Bonnie

        It’s a long story…I began blogging to share my life while I endured breast cancer, two separate mastectomies, chemo and radiation ..I was compelled to tell God is faithful amid trials and pain.
        My only sibling was diagnosed right before I began radiation. He and I fought together, encouraged each other and prayed for.each other. It was wonderfully awful, but we had the Lord and our family and friends.
        The pain of his death brought more pain–and that’s really all I can tell . By others looking over my shoulder I was referencing relational hurts. I lost more than my brother.. I love writing and I do have a story to.tell –I.am.simply fearful of negative responses.
        I’ve lost the discernment concerning what’s on my heart and sharing.that, vs. “will this make someone mad?”

        • Bonnie, you have a unique opportunity to share the grief of your brother’s loss, your own travails and your questions of God’s faithfulness. It has given you a unique platform to pack God’s Word in comfort to others. Surge on!

  • Carol J. Sharp

    Thanks for the devotional information, Jerry. My writing began with devotionals and several were published. Somewhere along the writing path I forgot writing my own journals and devotional thoughts kept me moving forward in other endeavors. I’m returning to my first love in writing!

  • Jennie Atkins

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been writing devotionals for awhile now and your post confirmed some of my approaches and provided additional food for thought. I have been considering publishing a devotional around a recent set of circumstances that occurred in our family. When tragedy struck, so did the idea that others in similar circumstances would be without hope. I’d like to attempt to fill that gap in the future. Blessings to you!

  • Janice G

    Thank you for this thorough information. You always bless people by the generous sharing of your knowledge. I am writing about what it means to look, live, and learn as a person made in God’s image on my new blog. It is devotional in nature.

    Thanks, again!

  • Distillerman

    Wonderful inspiration for a much needed experience. Finding refuge in the word is simply our food for life.

  • Awesome article. I finished my second book September of 2015. But I’ve been kind of stuck considering how could I be more effective with my generation. There are young people desperate for change but are conflicted with a lack of a strategy on how to change. I believe with submission to the Holy Spirit along with biblical truth expressed through the vehicles of devotionals we have tools that can be used to restore the focus back to God with this generation. Your article helped me to funnel down my thoughts to be more specific and precise. Funneling my thoughts to be more specific through devotionals I believe will help me be even more effective with empowering this conflicted culture. Thank you Dr. Jerry.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thank you, Michael. And stay tuned. Exciting announcement coming soon.

  • Very comprehensive look at the bones of devotional writing. I’ve been in some of Doc Hensley’s workshops at writers’ conferences; he’s personable and adds value to the writing journey!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Absolutely. He’s the best. I haven’t hosted a writers conference in 20 years where I haven’t asked him to speak.

  • Elizabeth

    My deadline will be three, I was thinking on the lines of five, but read about 3 and I think I should be conservative bc I used to write only for half an hour a month and not every month either. But this is what will make a difference, I realized that I don’t write or make hte time to write bc I am stuck (never had writer’s block) on a chapter that I dont’ know how to fix (my shortcoming is expository, transitional chapters. I think I do well with scenes, but I need the chapters that connect to those scenes and when I see a flaw that I don’t know how to fix, and when rewriting won’t do teh job, then I posptpone. I need to keep a list of examples. Anyone remembers the lady at the hospital that wanted to know the name of the physician? How many of us wanted to know the rest of hte story? Everybody? I think so. How many questions we had about that? Why does she want his name? Does she have a crash on him? and on and on it went. The example was made into a scene, almost, in about only 3 or 4 sentences. Now I read the example, learn how to do it, go to my book and use the technique–not the same example– only the strategy and I am happy and think I know how to handle exposition. However, times goes by and I need that example again to dissecate the process and realize that I really don’t know, I haven’t retained the strategy, internalized the strategy. So, from now on, I am keeping a list of examples and if anyone out there has kept a list, please share. I don’t think Jerry Jenkins’s people keep the e-mails he sends with instructions. REmember the dialogue one? He was answering to someone’s questions. For me, it is just as important to read the blogs as it is to read many of the answers he gives in the Forum. So, for me, I need to work on ‘conective’ chapters, the chapters that lead to the scenes (when I write scenes I am transported to the scene, there’s not much description–or need for research–there’s not much of anything but action and diaglogue and I can handle that). I am keeping, starting today, 3 pages a day but I am going to do it faifhtfully and see what happens, it can’t be worst than not doing anything (and those 3 pages I will edit by asking questions such as “does it make sense” is this setting convincing, would so and so have an assignemnt like this or that?” I’ve learned one more thing I want to share and this is to change the font of the page that I have become ‘blind’ to, and see if I can really see what I am saying (haven’t tried it yet) but I first need to know what is wrong–that is half of the battle– and then need to know how to fix it– I have many resources that I can use but I need to remove the blind spots. Oops, a bit too long here, just love to write. This is my plan and I am starting today. I could not post on the new course, it wouldn’t allow me so I am posting here. I hope it is okay.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      You’ll really benefit from what I’m offering later this month–some real detailed analysis. Stay tuned.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you Jerry, and this time I will make sure (an suggest others may do the same as well) to cut and paste, save under a title that I can find for later review, and to understand the technique.
    The anticipation of getting hold of those techniques/examples makes my day, and encourages me to move forward. After all I am enjoying the journey and that counts for something whether I succeed or don’t, but I believe that if I stay the course I will :)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I agree, Elizabeth.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you Jerry. I got the link for the Left Behind series.

  • Elizabeth

    About Dean Koontz’s book: interlibrary loan, then xerox it, if you want to keep a copy. This is what I did. You can also check thriftbooks dot com (don’t be intimidated if they advertise two copies for a low price, you can always get rid of one copy as you check out)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      It would probably cost more to xerox the book than to buy an expensive rare copy. :)

  • Elizabeth

    Someone kindly send me a link where every chapter of the Left Behind series is supposed to have being analyzed. I just saved it under Jerry Jenkins, but didn’t peruse the site yet.

    Now looking for the site I opened it (saw a strange name but thought it was my eyes. Just got a new pair of glasses) and clicked in one of the links (don’t know who sent it to me, here in this forum).

    Oh, my. I can’t believe this. Please forget that I even mentioned it. It is an Index with an offensive slant to every reader in the planet!

    What is the matter with people?

    I am so glad that I opened the site before I posted it (being a bit on the side of ADD, I am very distracted and a bit disorganized but I think God’s hand was protecting me, as always. How else could I explain that I would take the time to stop and open the site at this very moment before sending it, particularly bc I was thinking it was coming from your company. Why would I check it? But God prevented this unnecessary situation.

    I would have felt so embarrassed…and no amount of tears would have fixed it. To be honest, I am still in shock.

  • Elizabeth

    I meant “been”, just a bit nervous

  • Karen Crider

    I think writing devotionals is a great way to plant seeds for the kingdom. I would probably fare better there than I would my flower garden. Too many bugs, too many weeds, too much sunburn. Sounds like the world. But it’s always great to touch base with a fellow sufferer, even though you do it on a much higher level. But someday we’ll all be on that higher level. Heaven loves a sinner, especially those of the garden (of Eden) variety. LOL karen

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      :)

  • Elizabeth

    Ha, you made me laugh. The book was going for $200.00 the Stephen King one, and Dean Koontz…. you coudln’t find it to buy , so it will cost you thirty some dollars but you can’t find the book. Yeah, a regular book is much cheaper to buy it. Matter of fact you can find many books that are out of print at that place…thriftbook dot com, but they dint’t have Dean Koontz at that time :) Thanks . That was funny!

  • Parker

    Your article is very informative given in simply and easy to follow steps. Thanks for the help.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks!

  • Pam Glover

    Thorough and encouraging. I’m ready to rewrite my first drafts with your guidielines. Thanks.

  • Jenee

    I have written a book of devotionals, but the feedback I’ve received says to be more clear about my intended audience. I’m not sure how to do that.

    • It’s probably something as simple as being aware of the age and denominational preference of the marketing you’re selling to. Obviously, devotionals to adults will be different than for children, seniors different than for children, etc.

      • Jenee

        That is helpful, thank you.

  • Ken

    Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it is not a promise, it’s a principle. When writing devotionals please make this distinction (and others) as not to mislead your readers. Devotionals are meant to help, disciple, build up, teach, train, and equip… they do this as they faithfully exposit Scripture as God intended His Word to be.

  • Lisa

    As a fairly new writer I found this to be extremely helpful and a great place to start. I can’t believe how many questions it answered for me. Thank you so much for putting this out here. When I googled the exact question of how to get started writing a devotional I didn’t expect to find exactly what I needed explained so thoroughly. What a blessing! Thank you!

  • EllBee Wright

    This article is very good. Great insight and information. This information is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thank you, EllBee.

  • Awesome, awesome tutorial. I might join up with some friends to create some devotionals targeted to some very unique audiences. I’m excited and your tutorials are helping a ton.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, J.T. All the best with those.

  • Elizabeth

    Awesome. I don’t think I have the courage to try a devotional, but the instructions here are awesome. Thanks. So good to be here again.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good to have you, Elizabeth.

  • Sherry

    God has been laying this on my heart lately. So glad I found this blog piece. Lots of great ideas and tips. Thank you!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Great, Sherry. All the best.

  • Aba

    Thank you so much for this information. I have always wanted to write a devotional and now I have the info I needed to start.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Glad to be of help, Aba.

  • Robin Staley

    I. I love your post. I have been wanting to write devotionals but didn’t know how to start. I have aspirations of being a writer and this will be a good experience as I try to be a writer. Thank you Jerry Jenkins, you are the best! Your blogs give us encouragement and hope.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Robin.

  • Kimberly

    This is very helpful information! I resently did a Chapel Devotion at work and loved doing it. I am preparing to do another one and was looking how to expand writing devotionals! Thanks!!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      You’re welcome, Kimberly. Hope no one resented it. :)

      Sorry, I know what you meant. :)

      • Kimberly

        Ha ha! Lol… I’ll be looking for a really great Editor!

  • Tyisha L Hurst

    This article provided just the information that I was looking for! I can now go forward feel more confident since I now have a guideline to help push me in the right direction.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Great, Tyisha! Thanks.

  • Tony Philip Oreso

    Thanks, Jerry. Awesome torch to show ME and other budding devotional writers the way! I have signed up for the newsletter. Please keep feeding me! Thanks!!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thank you, Tony.

  • Laura Hudder Robertson

    I truly appreciate this post. I am interested in writing devotionals as well as bible studies. I have a heart for fueling the younger generation with understanding of keeping God as their focus through life. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and teaching the art of writing.

    Blessings ~~
    Laura

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Laura.

  • Grace Weisenburg

    This was extremely thorough! Very helpful. Just one question – Do you know how to go about looking up what publishers may be looking for?

  • Debbie

    This was very helpful. Thank you :) I heard you speak at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference near Charlotte in 2014…enjoyed your session very much. I was really happy to realize this post was written by you. (Google sent me!)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Debbie. Good to hear from you. Did they tell you to check out http://www.JerrysGuild.com ? We’d love to have you. :)

  • Renata Singh

    Looking to start my writing my devotional and stumbled on these awesome tips. Really Helpful, Thank You!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Renata! Glad you found us.

  • Merry

    Found this to be very helpful information and shared this link with our church Facebook Writer’s Group. Thank you for reaching out to writers!!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Merry.

  • Kevin Nicholas

    Thank you for the insight. I have no plans on publishing but writing a few occasionally for my family. Two of my three children already live in different states and the third will soon be leaving for another state.
    God bless you.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      That’s a valid reason, Kevin, and who knows, maybe your devotionals will prove valuable enough for a broader audience some day.

  • Geraldine Tucker

    Jerry, I recently published my first meditation and inspirational book, Bedside Chat, and it was because of your encouragement and tips that I pushed myself to finish it. Thank your for your support of the writing professional, it has been very helpful. Gerry Tucker

  • I’ve been blogging for a couple of years and I’m hoping to hone my skill at writing devotionals, possibly for a book. For right now, I’m prayerfully seeking ways to expand the reach of what the Lord lays on my heart to communicate.

  • J J Clayton Craig

    Even though I am preparing a devotional to be presented, not writing one to be submitted, I found this article more helpful than many others that I read. It lays out a process that I can follow and adapt to different circumstances.

  • Delmesha Richards

    This was awesome…and I haven’t even read everything, I just skimmed it since I plan to print and save it for future use. I’m thinking it may be a good idea for me to write a devotional as a companion to the book I’m writing. Thanks so much JJ!!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good idea, Delmesha.

  • Gail Kelley

    Thank you JJ for your fabulous advice and knowledge; I was blessed to have come across it. I plan to start writing devotionals and I do hope they will be inspiring to all that read! Thanks again, God Bless????

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thank you, Gail.

  • Lisa Thomas

    Thank you Mr. Jenkins for this helpful information. It is a blessing to know that when in need, God always have someone readily available to provide wisdom to help. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  • John Tucker

    I’ve written for The Secret Place and been published twice, but that was a decade ago. Maybe this is an area I’d be good at if I kept at it. I like the quick message with a Scripture format required for devotionals. I even had a reader thank me for one of them. That was a good feeling.

    • Nothing like it, is there, John?

      • John Tucker

        It’s inspiring!

  • I have had an idea for a 52-week devotional/journal lurking in my mind for the past year, and this post has provided a framework for the content. . . and reignited my passion to keep working on it. Thank you for the information!

  • Lauren

    Thanks for the wonderful article! This certainly answers questions and addresses reservations I had about my devotional project.

  • AnthonyDejolde

    I’m soooo blessed today! I found your blog, Jerry. Thanks for your guest post Jeff Goins, it led me to this awesome blog!

  • Georgia Boothe

    I love the idea of keeping a devotional journal! I feel like the lessons I learn the most from always include some sort of personal experience. Keeping a journal of the things you endure everyday could be a great way of recognizing those moments, and translating them into powerful lessons for others to learn from.
    https://mattmcmillenministries.com/

  • DonHz

    The late Dr Larry Richards promoted the “Hook, Book, Look Took” method as early as 1970 in the first edition of his book, “Creative Bible Teaching.”

    Doc Hensley had just finished his BA degree back when Dr. Richards released the book that explained the process. I’m not sure Hensley is deserving of the credit he got in this article.

    I’d say Dr. Larry Richards is the proper person to be acknowledged. Give credit where, and to whom, credit is due.

    • I knew Larry when I worked at Scripture Press in the early 70s. What a communicator he was. I’ll bounce this off Doc and see if he recalls gleaning it from Dr. Richards. I’m guessing it was either an oversight or he just forgot, as Doc teaches journalistic ethics as part of his professional writing emphasis.

      Thanks for the tip.

  • Rachel Scott

    I love this, thank you! I plan to launch a devotion website in 2017. This will be an amazing guide for me????????????

  • Charles DeJesus

    I felt inspired to consider writing a devotional to submit for internal publishing within my denomination. A simple search led me here. I saw that you referenced one of our publications. This article is of great practical help and is equally appreciated. Sincerely.

    • Thanks, Charles. Lots of free writing advice right here frequently.

  • Kristin Kimble

    This was very helpful!! Thank you! Working on my first book of devotionals! Excited to embark on this journey!

  • Stacy C

    Thank you so much!! This was Very very helpful, and detailed. Every question I could think of you answered. Working on my first book of Daily Devotionals!!

  • Carol Sanford

    Thank you. Your suggestions and guidelines for devotional writing are clearly stated and helpful. I hope you open your guild again soon. I’d like to become a member.

    • Thanks, Carol. We’d love to have you. I think we’re looking at a February registration window. But you can get on the waiting list (no obligation) now. Just go to http://www.JerrysGuild.com and sign up for the notification via email of the enrollment period.

  • Jacy

    Thank you for this! My love for writing began about 3 years ago when I started journaling during my time with the Lord. I felt a tug at my heart to share what I was discovering about life through the Word with others. I began praying, asking God to show me how to share the Gospel with the multitudes. He prompted me to create a Facebook group and I began transferring my journal entries to the group feed. Friends and family helped share the group and it has grown to about 530 members! Journaling has grown into a desire to write Devotionals for the people. I consider myself still very new at it so I wanted to research it and this is the very first article I came across! Praise God! Your article on the subject has peeked further interest for me to pursue what I believe is a calling on my life. Thank you!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Glad we could help, Jacy.

  • Melanie Boulis

    Am writing a devotional book. Two of my chapters are inspired by books that I read. How do I go about properly citing the book that I took concepts away from for my chapter? It is not just a sentence quote, but rather ideas another author came up with, put in my own words, but very similar to things that author stated.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Melanie, this is a good question because you DO want to do this with care. Check with the publishers to see how much you can quote directly without having to pay, and then exactly how they would like to be credited.

      The generous and appropriate way to do this is very transparently. I would even start these chapters with something like, “I learned so much from ___________’s book on this subject, titled ______________. He makes the point that… [and spell it out], and many of my points in this chapter have been inspired by that book.

      Then, when you’re quoting the author or–better for the sake of the legalities–synopsizing his points, the uniqueness comes by your recounting how you applied them to your life and what you learned.

      • Melanie Boulis

        Thank you so much for your helpful advice! Your approach to this makes a lot of sense. I appreciate your quick and thorough reply.

  • Bobbie Barretto

    Thanks, Jerry! Truly God leads and directs. I’ve long wanted to write a Devotional but have been thoughtlessly putting it off for a later time. I appreciate the information and affirmation you’ve shared.

  • pamela mhene

    thank you, i have a passion for women, i did a magazine just for women only and this year i have been feeling this urge to a women’s devotion and i am battling in my mind, that we about to close January it’s already too late. i do not know please help.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Help how?

  • Vicki Discenza

    ” ‘Yet from here to the ends of the earth, their voices have gone out; the whole world can hear what they say.’ (The Voice, Psalm 19:4).” I don’t know what motivates your typical writer to spend endless hours struggling over each word, writing, and rewriting, only to revise again. I write because my Father spoke His Word into darkness and brought forth Truth, and I want to be just like him. People matter, His Word says so, I just want them to believe it. Thank you Mr. Jenkins for this blog. You’ve given us much to think about, a terrific plan by which to follow, and a Jedi Master in which to apprentice.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Hey, thanks! I’ve always wanted to be a Jedi. :)

      Sounds like you have a handle on your ‘why,’ Vicki.

  • A Scriptured Life

    Thank you Jerry for sharing such detailed information with us. This will be very helpful for me to refer back to. I am also wondering about how to put together a book proposal for a devotional and if/how that differs from a nonfiction book proposal. Do you have any resources for that? Thanks again!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I would do it as a conventional nonfiction proposal, but the sample chapter(s) would probably take the form of a month’s worth of devotionals.

      • Great, I can do that. Thank you Jerry, for your help and this wonderful website!

  • Tim Wilbanks

    This is encouraging information. I have written short articles and devotions for our church newsletter and used them in lessons when I was teaching high school and college Sunday School classes. I was encouraged to submit an article to a Christian magazine some years ago and received my first rejection letter. I think I will frame it and display it over my desk for even more encouragement.I was a member of Christian Writers Guild in 2005, but I allowed life to get in the way.
    I think it’s time to get serious about writing again.

    • Thanks, Tim. You’re welcome here.

      • Tim Wilbanks

        I love how the Lord always helps you see where you got off the path He laid out for you. In my current field, I proofread and edit medical manufacturing documents, prints, technical data, etc. It has helped me realize how much I miss writing something inspiring that might be helpful for others as well as myself. Thanks again!

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          I used to worry that editing other people’s stuff would have a negative impact on my own writing, but I find it has the opposite effect. Hope it does for you too.

  • Lisa

    I wish I would have read this before I tried to write some…☺ I’m grateful for this helpful framework now, anyways…Superbly practical!

  • tassajoh

    I was thinking about how to write the pastor’s column in my church bulletin, having stumbled on your article, I see the way forward more clearly now. Thank you for the great job you’ve done in this article.

  • Glenda

    My mind keeps revolving a course around the song, Light of the World. So, my next devotional will likely incorporate the science of illumination. From the stars, to a candle on the water or patches of orange glowing at sunrise, brightening a dawn like water lilies on a Monet pond…

  • Mary Jane Mason

    Thank you for this post, it was very helpful. I have journals full of ideas. Things I wrote at different times helping me through a moment or just an encouragement God gave me through his Word. I will have to re-visit some of them!

  • Amidala Sumana

    hiii

    nice artical…

    We are providind temples in formation

    http://www.bharathiyam.org/

  • Jerri Drakes

    I enjoyed these wonderful insights. This blog definitely planted seeds I’m certain will blossom and bear fruit.

  • Dianne Nichols Lami

    For three years I have struggled with my little blog site – wanting to direct the writing particularly to single moms. As a mentor for four single moms through a ministry at our church, I wanted to write words of encouragement and hope. Lately, I’ve decided to focus more generally on women, including single moms, since we all have similar issues. Thank you for your clarity. I’ll begin a journal of devotional writing today!

  • Kareem GodChild Flowers

    I am looking to know the typical size of a morning devotional book, if I wanted to print one.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      With one devotional for each day of the year with one on each page, You can do the math. But are you sure you want to print one? Why pay to be printed when you can be paid to be published?

  • Melissa Brotton

    Thank you, Jerry. I found this guide to be very helpful. It is so important to really search your heart to know whether you are ready to write a devotional or not. Thank you for the spiritual guidance you provided. May God continue to guide your work.

  • Shivavani

    Immensely grateful for your guidance, thank you. God bless

  • Marquita Jacks

    Very helpful information. Honestly, I’ve been writing for years. I have journals and journals all over my house. Within the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve started to share my writings. To God’s glory, I usually get very positive feedback (it helps me to write, my prayer is that it helps someone to read it), but with all of the devotionals in the world, I struggle to see why me writing one would be significant, know what I mean? I’ve been asked to write, by many for some years…praying that this is what God would have me to do.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Marquita, your writing one would be significant because it would be uniquely yours.

      • Marquita Jacks

        Thank you!

  • Beryl Torrence

    Thank you, for the great information. I am embarking on a short term mission in a few weeks. I am writing a devotion on being prepared for the mission, based on Ephesians 6:10-20.

  • Michele Williams

    I’m writing a devotional for the first time for a leadership class at church. This article is perfect in guiding me on the journey. I feel less intimidated now

  • Thanks so much for sharing your passion with others. Am praying over traditional v. self-publishing route; and so appreciate your insight and guidance.

  • Linda Surgenors

    Linda here ! I am totally great full for all of this wonderful information concerning our books that will be a blessing for all who read them. The Word of God is every lasting. His message is for all man kind. And with Jerry’s blue print of his wealth of knowledge….We will spread the message far and wide!!!! Information about his love, compassion, the price was paid in full by the cross & we know the Most High God, the Son & the wonderful Holy Spirit! I am just one of His daughters that was called to let the world know who He is!!
    Respectfully Submitted,
    Linda
    6/9/2017

  • Roy McMillan

    This is great information, Jerry! I write a devotional blog called “A Worshiper’s Journal” (www.aworshipersjournal.com) and hope to one day publish my devotionals in a book. I will definitely use your advice in this article before I take that step. Thanks!