3 Questions To Help You Choose A Devotional (without losing your mind)

Cancer, devotion, bible study

As I stood inline, the waft of fresh baked baguette and the snowy dandruff decorating the collar of the guy in front distracting me from my task at hand, the choice was mind boggling.

My flight or fight mode kicked in.

It was tense.

All I was trying and failing to do was choose a sandwich and chips combo. 

In theory, not that hard for a grown-assed woman in her mid 50's with a degree. But you'd be wrong.

The multitude of permutations and combinations of bread (baguette, wheat, white, gluten-free, sourdough), fillings (chicken salad, cheese - American, Swiss, provolone, cheddar, Brie - egg salad, hummus, lettuce, tomato, olives, mayo), and side, not to mention whether I wanted it toasted, to-go, with added avocado for a $1.50 up-charge or sprinkled with their secret blend of vinegars and spices -  I nearly turned on my heels and headed home for a pice of toast and peanut butter.

There was too much choice.

It's not much better when it comes to choosing a devotional or prayer book.

With over 70,000 to choose from (I checked on Amazon but I'm sure there are even more!) it's enough to a grown woman groan (see what I did there with my words?🤣🥰😜). 

Someone recently asked me, How do you choose a devotional?  and it made me think of that sandwich shop.

They wanted to buy one for a friend but wasn't sure how to choose the best one given the number to choose from. Now that  I've checked those numbers I'm not surprised.

Choosing a devotional for yourself or as a gift for a friend can be daunting. Many promise you something; a certain number of days to joy, deeper intimacy with Jesus, peace, a healthier marriage, or greater understanding of the bible. 

And each one has a different style, length, format, and aesthetic, not to mention theological bent, denominational stance or church movement bias.

So where do you start?

Is the best seller list the place to go?

Or maybe those with the greatest number of 5 star reviews?

What about picking one out purely because you like the cover artwork or you heard the author on a podcast last week and you liked her vibe?

All that's great but when my friend texted me to ask how to choose a devotional I responded with 3 questions and I thought they might help you choose your next devotional too.

3 Questions to Help You Choose Your Next Devotional

          1. Do you want a specific theme or topic?

          2. Do you want a dedicated time frame?

          3. Do you want a certain format?


1. Pick Your Devotional Theme/Topic

Your first decision is to decide whether you want to get to a certain place in your faith or tackle a certain issue in your faith or life? Here are just a few topics and themes you might want.

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Intimacy with God
  • Cancer
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Hearing God's Voice
  • Grief
  • Advent
  • There are soooo many more!

2. Choose Your Devotional Length

Do you mind how long the devotion is - both in the number of days it covers and the length of the daily ready?

Most give you a clear number of days they include which gives you an idea of how long it would take you to go through it if you show up and read it daily-ish. Some are dated and go through the year while others are for a certain season and their time length is dictated by the season - think Advent or Lent.

If you don't really mind how long the devotion is that's great, move on to the next question, but keep in the back of your mind whether you looking for longer or shorter devotional.

A devotion through the year may feel too overwhelming or the perfect companion to a new season. A shorter devotion may feel more manageable or not long enough to dive in deeply.

You get to decide.

3. What Format Do You Want?

This is where you can really narrow things down as most devotions follow the same format.

  • Heading
  • Scripture verse
  • A related short story or thought
  • A prayer to pray

Other formats include things like;

  • A guided prayer format
  • Journalling space
  • Additional questions to ponder and pray through
  • Longer readings, more in depth writings and references to dig deeper into the scripture.

I'm always a fan of buying books from real life, in person, brick and mortar book stores and taking time to flick through the pages and feel the weight of a book in my hand, and if you have a local store  you can look inside a devotion before you  buy it so you know what you're getting.

Now Amazon has the "Look Inside" feature you can get a good feel for what's inside so you shouldn't get any surprises!

So what devotion are you going to choose?

Of course if you or someone you know has cancer, you might like my One Minute Prayers for Women with Cancer where I'll walk with you through all the emotions, questions, and struggles cancer throws at us.


Here are a few others I like.

Prayers Of Rest By Asheritah Ciuciu

A Little Goes A Long Way by Rachael Adams

100 Days to Brave by Annie F Downs

The Lives We Actually Have by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie


Leave a comment and let me know what kind of devotional you like and what devotional you wish you could find but can't. I'm all ears!