Read as a Writer: A Lesson for Devotional Writers

This lesson is taken from my online course, “Let’s Write a Devotional.”

In this lesson, we are going to read several devotionals. Hopefully, this reading will be enjoyable for you. The more you enjoy devotional reading, the more that joy will come through in your devotional writing. And the more devotionals you read, the easier it will be when it comes to writing your own.

As you read the devotionals in this lesson, I want you to read specifically as a writer. This lesson will take some time, but it is well worth the effort. You are setting a foundation that will help you greatly when you begin to write your own devotionals. Enjoy this time, move slowly through this process, and make the most of it. This is all time spent with God. Be blessed.

Finding Devotionals to Read

You might have a favorite source of devotionals. If so, you can go ahead and turn to that now. If you don’t have devotionals on hand, here are several places where you can find them:

The Upper Room publishes devotional booklets, and they also publish some of their devotionals online. If you visit their website at you can immediately read some of their devotionals.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association publishes daily devotionals online in calendar format, which is very user-friendly. If you visit this website you can read today’s devotional or any devotional titles that grab your attention.

My own website Adventures with God is a place where you can read some of the devotionals I have written. Here is a link to the “devotional” category on my blog – this will bring up a list of devotionals you can scroll through:

These are just a few sources of free online devotionals to get you started. You will discover many more as you grow as a devotional writer.

Reading Devotionals as a Writer

First, pick three devotionals to read. Here’s what you will do with each devotional, one at a time:

1. Read it first, straight through, prayerfully, as a reader. Do this just to get the context and understanding.

2. Now, re-read it, and this time, read it as a writer.

What does that mean?

Try to see what choices and decisions the writer made in creating this devotional. Put yourself in the writer’s place and think about why certain words are used, and why certain stories are shared.

As you go through each devotional, reading as a writer, I recommend capturing your reflections and making notes in your journal. This will help you later on, when you get ready to write your own devotional.

The steps that follow will help you in learning to read devotionals as a writer. Be sure, most of all, to pray and let the Holy Spirit lead you in this process.

3. As a writer, look at the devotional’s message.

Think about what the person who wrote this devotional is trying to get across. What is the main message? How does the writer share this message? Does the writer share a story, a teaching, or a personal reflection?

Can you tell if the message is important to the writer? What are some clues to this? Does the writer use certain words that show how much the writer cares about the message?

Do you feel like the writer cares about you, the reader? What makes you feel that way? Be as specific as possible – is it certain words, a feeling you get, the way the message is written?

4. As a writer, consider how the devotional affects you, and why.

What impact does this devotional have on you? Does it make you want to read the Bible more? Pray? Serve? What specific response do you have after reading this devotional?

Now get even more specific: What did the writer do to encourage these responses? What part of this devotional makes you want to pray, read the Bible, or help someone else?

5. Read the entire Bible passage.

Let’s go a little deeper. In your Bible, look up the Bible verse that begins this devotional.

Note: You can use a printed or electronic Bible. As a devotional writer, you may discover that using your own physical Bible will help you connect more deeply with the Holy Spirit in your writing. However, I understand that sometimes writers do well when they are out in nature or in different settings. You might not be able to bring a physical Bible with you. A Bible app on your phone is still God’s Word. Do what works best for you. What is most important is that you connect with God in His Word as you read and write devotionals.

Now that you’ve looked up the Bible verse that leads off the devotional, read the entire passage that surrounds this verse. The whole passage might include what comes before the verse, after it, or both. You decide how much to read, but be sure to read everything that is relevant to that verse.

How does the devotional message connect with that entire passage? Are there other lessons in the passage? Would they also make for good devotionals?

Why do you think the writer shared this particular verse, and this particular lesson? What lesson might you have shared about this passage?

Take your time with this process. Spend your time prayerfully with God. Enjoy it. Make the most out of it, and don’t rush through it. By taking your time with this exercise, you are building a strong foundation for yourself as a devotional writer.

When you have finished going through the first devotional with the eyes of a writer, move on to the next one. I recommend you go through this process with three devotionals before completing this lesson. It takes time, and effort, but it will be well worth it when you begin planning and writing your own devotionals.

For Reflection: Do you have any insights you want to include in your journal for your future reference? Anything you’ve experienced through this process that might help you when you start writing your devotionals? Write those notes while they are fresh in your heart, and they will serve you well later on.

God, thank You for the privilege of helping us read devotionals with the eyes and heart of a writer. We are grateful to enjoy this time with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen


If you would like to learn more about devotional writing and take a guided, self-paced, online course where you will write a devotional and receive feedback from your instructor, you might enjoy my online course, “Let’s Write a Devotional.” Come visit the course page, and you can get started with devotional writing today.