Monday, May 31, 2010

Staying on Track with a Devotion

Last week we talked about how to stay on track when writing an article. This week we’ll talk about how that focus pertains to writing devotions. Unless you’re writing flash fiction or poetry, a devotion will be one of the shortest pieces you’ll ever write.

A devotion is a piece that illustrates a truth through a story. Almost always, the truth being illustrated is a Scripture from the Bible. Occasionally you’ll run into other truths illustrated in a similar fashion, but these are generally referred to as meditations.

Because devotions are so short, they’re somewhat easier to keep focused. But be sure that every sentence refers back to the Scripture lesson you’re trying to illustrate. In something so brief, side trips—no matter how enlightening, are strictly forbidden.

Terminology Note: Most people outside the industry interchange the words devotion and devotional. Contrary to popular belief they are NOT synonyms. A devotional is a collection of devotions.

Most devotions range from 100 to 700 words in length, with the average being around 250 words. There are certain conventions you should be aware of when you pen a devotion, but few hard and fast rules.

Here are some of the guidelines commonly followed
  • There’s always one single lesson per devotion (this is a hard and fast rule)
  • There’s a tie into a single Scripture—usually no more than 1-2 verses
  • They’re short—generally 150 to 400 words
These are the aspects that can change
  • The placement of the Scripture—it’s common to have it before or after the body of the devotion
  • Thought for the day—some devotions include them and others don’t
  • Prayer—again, some have them, some don’t
  • Challenge or question—this is another aspect that is up to the publication or author
There are many places that accept devotion submissions. Some offer payment, others only clips. Personally, I love to write devotions and I love to read them. One of my favorite sites is . If you’ve never written devotions before, they're an excellent resource to learn how and they accept submissions. Their policy now is to offer clips, but no payment. Their site gets a lot of hits so it’s a good place for a beginning writer to start.

What devotion sites do you like to read? Where have you submitted devotions? Share your tips and remember –
Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Thanks Edie, wants to be the devotional site that says yes to writers. We have mentors willing to work with new writers, even seasoned writers to help them learn the art of writing devotions. Thanks for sending folks our way. We'd love to see their work.

  2. Cindy's right - is a great place to submit devotions. I write for them regularly so it's not just for beginners!

  3. Hey! I enjoy reading the devotions in the back of the In Touch Magazine. They have things relating to evangelism and discipleship often in the same devotion. It seems like it would be hard to write it like that. But now I don't think so. Thanks for the post.

  4. Katy,
    Glad you enjoyed the post - and I know you could write a great devotion! If you want to give it a try, I'll be happy to look at it for you.