How To Write A Devotional: 5 Action Steps To Amplify Your Writing

POSTED ON Mar 9, 2023

Sarah Rexford

Written by Sarah Rexford

Home > Blog > Learning, Non-Fiction > How To Write A Devotional: 5 Action Steps To Amplify Your Writing

Have you ever wondered how to write a devotional? Well, you’re in good company. Many writers choose to write devotionals, and for a variety of reasons. Learning how to write a devotional and the right steps to take can help put you leaps and bounds ahead in your career.

Along with this, devotionals can create impact on many readers in just a short amount of time. Not only is learning how to write a devotional a great way to learn in your skill of writing but doing so can create lasting, positive repercussions. 

In this article we define what a devotional is, give you concrete steps to write on, and then of course, wrap up with some real life examples of the different types you can write. Ready to dive in?

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Devotional, Defined

If a short story is the stripped down version of fiction, devotionals are the same for nonfiction. In fact, devotionals often include the same key aspects of nonfiction, just in a much more condensed form. For instance, if you want to learn how to write a devotional well, it’s crucial to know what to include:

  • A theme
  • An example
  • A takeaway 

Do these three aspects look family to you? If they do, it’s likely because you either wrote nonfiction previously or are family with the steps necessary. 

Just as nonfiction is built around a specific theme of the book, filled with examples, and often provides some form of takeaway at the end, so do devotionals. 

With this in mind, while nonfiction covers a variety of genres and audiences, the subgren of devotionals are commonly associated with the Christian faith and therefore written for audiences who identify as followers of Jesus. 

Just as a condensed self-help book may be written for those trying to reach a certain health lifestyle, emotional intelligence, or productive living, devotionals as a type of spiritual book usually target readers wanting to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. 

So, how to write a devotional? Next up, we cover steps to do so! 

How To Write A Devotional: Steps To Follow

Many devotionals start with a verse or two from the Bible, are followed by a page or so of thoughts by the author, and end with a prayer, a parting tip, or another type of call to action. 

When you are first learning how to write a devotional, pinpointing your audience and the type of devotional you want to write will help. Work through the following list to help get you started: 

  • Do you want to write a daily devotional?
  • What demographic do you want to target?
  • Do you want to write a seasonal devotional?
    • Advent
    • Lent
    • Etc.
  • What type of writing style do you want to use? 
  • What unique aspects do you bring to this form of writing? 

Once you take some time to answer the above questions, it’s time to get into the actual steps.

#1 – Determine Your Theme

What theme you choose when deciding to write a devotional is as important as it is when deciding the theme for your fiction or nonfiction project. Theme is what carries the story and theme is what carries devotions as well. Some common themes may be:

  • Perseverance in difficult times 
  • Names of God
  • Character traits of God
  • Daily encouragement from the Bible 

Once you choose your theme, it’s time to decide how to write on it.

#2 – Write To Your Target Audience

Writing to children or young adults versus adults the elderly largely determines what details you include in your devotional. While you could choose to write on the names of God no matter you target audience, the details you include will vary based on your chosen audience. Make sure you write to your chosen demographic! 

#3 – Include Some Type Of Takeaway

Devotionals often include a verse to memorize at the end, a parting thought, or a few questions to consider. This adds an interactive element to your format and will likely help readers remember what they read.

#4 – Build On Previous Days 

While this is not essential, when learning how to write a devotional, it is helpful to write in a way that builds day by day. This is especially helpful for devotionals that celebrate seasons such as Advent or Lent. 

#5 – Edit, Edit, Edit

Like all writing, devotional demand a close attention to detail. Not only does learning how to write a devotional teach you the brevity of words and how to pack the most meaning into the most brief amount of space, but they teach you the power in the phrase “less is more.” 

Make sure you edit your devotionals as much, or even more, than you edit your longer works!

Examples Of Different Types

Looking at devotionals that have done well and continue to can help as you decide what type of devotional to write. Check out the list below for inspiration as you get started. 

#1 – Yearly 

Author D. A. Carson wrote a two-book, companion devotional that takes readers through the Bible. This devotional is one page per day, includes chapters to read from the Bible, and spends its single page explaining one of the chapters. 

#2 – Seasonal 

Paul David Tripp is an author and speaker who published a seasonal devotional for Advent. This book can be read as a family, group of friends, or individually. 

#3 – For Teens

Author, speaker, and actress Priscilla Shirer published a seven-session devotional for teenagers. The shortest of the devotionals mentioned, if you wonder how to write a devotional for your target audience, Priscilla understands the attention spans of teenagers.  

#4 – For Adults 

Amanda Jenkins and Dallas Jenkins (director) published a forty-day devotional based on the hit TV show, The Chosen. Based on the New Testament in the  Bible, this devotional is the first of several in the series. 

#5 – For The Ages

Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, never seems to age. A Scottish evangelist born in 1874, he is well-known for authoring this one-year, daily devotional book. 

How To Write A Devotional: The Practicalities 

Now that you know what a devotional is and several different types, it’s time to get to work. Learning how to write a devotional starts with writing a devotional. If you exceed your word count goal, miss an important aspect, or hope no one ever sees your first attempt, don’t let it discourage you. 

Short stories are well-known for being extremely difficult to write, perhaps even more so than an 80,000k word fiction. Devotionals are similar in their difficulty. As you begin the process, keep in mind a few tips:

  • Focus on one theme per day, not many
  • Write as much as you need to, edit later
  • Remember that less is more 

To help you start on a positive note, you may want to write three devotionals, each on the same theme, but target a different audience every time. This will help you determine who you feel most natural writing to.

Once you pinpoint your audience, just keep writing. As they say, the art of writing is in the rewriting. Edits are a normal part of all writers’ lives, so you’re not alone. Do your best, don’t forget to edit, and have fun! 

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