And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
A wise Christian writing mentor once counselled her students to write a devotional every day – even if devotional writing wasn’t their forte. She encouraged her class to use a traditional format with a scripture vers at the beginning, relevant thoughts or a story to illustrate the verse, with a challenge and a prayer to close it.
Her reasoning ?
■1. It got her class to write something every day. Writing is like playing a piano – when you practice every day and apply the writing rules you are learning, your writing will improve over time. Practice DOES make perfect – or at least better.
■2. It got them reading and thinking about the Scriptures each day to find something to write about. She believed that a writer who is a Christian should spend some daily time in Bible reading and prayer for direction for their writing.
I found some interesting statistics about Bible reading from a survey done in 2012 by the American Bible Society:
■36% of Americans read the Bible less than once a year or never while 33% read the Bible once a week or more (American Bible Society, The State of the Bible 2012)
■The proportion who never read the Bible increased (from 21% in 1999 to 25% in 2011), while the proportion of adults who read the Bible only once or twice a year decreased over the past decade, from 16% in 1999 to 11% in 2011 (American Bible Society, The State of the Bible 2011)
Those are pretty sobering stats!
And truthfully, as I examined my Bible reading habits, I found that even though I was involved in ministry, my Bible reading habits left a lot to be desired. I knew my Bible pretty well since I’ve been a Christian for over 50 years. I read it as I studied to prepare weekly Bible lessons, or as I prepared to do some special speaking. And the two Bible-based novels I wrote demanded a lot of research. But I didn’t sit down and just READ my Bible consistently.
Last year, I decided to take my writing mentor’s advice. Each day, Monday through Friday, I tried to write a devotional based on Bible Gateway’s verse of the day and to post it to my blog.
I found out she was right – it did help me to get back into the habit of writing each day and helped me to focus better on my other writing – I’ve almost finished my third bible novel!
But the biggest plus I’ve found is that it improved my relationship with the Lord. I had something fresh from him each day to focus on. So many times, the verse was exactly what I needed and it came back to me through the day like a song you can’t get out of your head.
Writing about it for the blog forced me to stop and interact with the verse, discovering what it meant to me personally before I could write about it to encourage others. The daily devotional blog was as much for me as it was a ministry to others,
I encourage you to try it in a daily diary. You don’t need to be a writer – just copy a scripture verse each day, then write a sentence or two about what it means to you and how it challenges you. Write a short prayer to conclude it. It will help you keep your heart and mind on the Lord more each day and will make a difference in your life – God’s word always does!