So you’d like to get published, or perhaps you need a breather from writing a novel. Try writing “a word to sustain the weary soul” for The Upper Room’s Daily Devotional Guide.
They accept unsolicited submissions, and their publication allows you to share your God-centered message with an international community of believers.
When I began freelance writing, I wrote a story about being grateful despite catching chicken pox from my toddlers. The Upper Room published that devotion and have published my work in their magazine multiple times since then.
I’d like to share an overview and helpful hints with you, in hopes you’ll submit your devotions so God can use them.
Devotions must be 250-300 words.
This can be a challenge because rather than preach, writers need to “show not tell” how God used a Bible passage—or event—to deepen our faith and inspire change within us. And editors ask that we convey our message so it nurtures the reader’s spiritual growth—albeit the Holy Spirit transforms people’s hearts.
Fortunately, there’s a prescribed formula.
Write three paragraphs. The first paragraph shows what the writer experienced. The second explores what the writer learned from the experience. The third encourages the reader to deepen his faith and apply the message to his own life.
Each day’s meditation includes a title, a suggested Bible reading, a quoted scripture verse, a personal witness or reflection on scripture, a prayer, a “thought for the day” (a pithy, summarizing statement), and a “prayer focus” (suggested subject for further prayer).
Where do we find material for devotions?
1) Read and meditate on Bible passages—particularly less familiar verses. The Holy Spirit convicts, teaches, and inspires us when we’re reading scripture. Look for connections between scripture and life. Those lightbulb moments—when God’s Spirit transforms our attitude or compels us to action—are opportunities to share what we’ve learned.
2) Wear eternal-colored glasses. Pray God reveals Himself and helps you see life from a Biblical perspective. Then look for God’s lessons throughout your day. My devotional ideas happen during ordinary moments: walking, gardening, cleaning my house. When we look at life through an eternal lens, scripture comes alive.
3) Wake up and observe life. There’s a wealth of inspiration when we focus on the moment instead of living on autopilot. Watch people while you’re running errands. Listen to people when you’re standing in a grocery line. How does God’s Word connect with what you’re observing?
I wrote a devotion because I heard a child holler, “Mommy, watch me!” I thought of God watching His children like Eric Liddel, who said, “God made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure.”
4) Keep a journal. Preserve those God moments, lessons, and visual metaphors so you can refer back to them when you’re ready to write a devotion. Remember to pray before you write, and when you submit your work.
You can visit The Upper Room website for writer’s guidelines.
Karen Foster’s devotion will appear in The Upper Room (Nov/Dec 2017). She also has a story in the upcoming book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families.