The Word for Writers
Preparing to Write Biblical Poetry
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In talking with a fellow Christian writer about Biblical or scriptural poetry I realized that I have skills that prepare me to write the scriptural poems that I have accumulated and posted. I hope to share those skills here. Since it has to do with scripture the Bible is the most vital tool. While there are articles on writing poetry here I wish to discuss the preparation for writing scriptural poetry as it pertains to followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading the Word of God is an unnatural thing, much less living, knowing or writing it. This is because its mindset is a divine one. Yet the Lord has designed his highest creatures to absorb what they read. It is a matter of practice.
Read the Word of God: I refer to the following scripture for guidance:
"He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?'” - Luke 10:26
Of course the wise Christian reads his Bible. Many read to be comforted or to draw close to the Lord. What I often find is that many read casually and when they are done the reader cannot recall what the Lord said to them through scripture. Many Christians are unable to explain what they have read. What needs to happen is to read with the intention of understanding, as Jesus asked in Luke's gospel. If we can explain then we understand. If we can understand we can write about it, either as a poem or a study. My scriptural poems are an attempt to show what is written.
I also often read devotionals. Much of what I write was inspired by a devotional like "My Utmost for His Highest" (my personal favorite). Other writings may also help but always test them by the Word of God. This will broaden one's insight.
Read the Word to understand. Understand to communicate the Word.
Meditate the Word: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." - Joshua 1:8
Reading the Bible is just the beginning. It is possible to meditate or mull over what one has just read. As said before it is unnatural to think along the lines of Biblical scripture. It takes practice to think that way. Just like it is unnatural at first to ride a bike, until it is practiced, so is it true with the Word of God. It can become almost second nature.
Please note that the verse I cite says the Lord wants us to meditate on His word for the goal of success. Should that not also include success in writing scriptural poetry?
Meditate on scripture to think scripturally. One can then write about scripture.
Memorize the Word: "Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You." - Psalm 119:11
This will appear as the most challenging practice. I used to believe memorizing scripture was difficult until I realized how my memory works when I remember phone numbers, email addresses as well as names. The difference between those and scripture? I want to remember the first over the second. I was convicted in realizing that if I loved the Lord I will memorize His word. In fact, if I cannot recall verses from scripture then I refuse to memorize my own poems. If one can happen, so can the other.
It is okay if you do not become a walking concordance. Any level of improvement is just that, an improvement.
Memorize the Word to retain. What one has one can give away.
Converse the Word: "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God." - 1 Peter 4:11
This is probably the most enjoyable practice for me. I know many Christians that will spend hours talking about what the Bible says. I gain so much from the experience. Often the poems I have written have come from ideas generated by those conversations. Someone may say something that will provoke an idea that becomes a poem. It may come from them or myself.
Try this: write a letter to someone about what you have read in the Bible, something that provoked you or convicted you. After that, attempt to re-write it in poetic form, using stanzas. It may rhyme or not. What matters is the communication. It is always about the message.
Talk the Word to communicate. Writing about the Word then is not so unobtainable.
Pray the Word: "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." - 1 John 5:14
Many of my prayers turned into poems. Praying the word is often reflected in what I write. My favorite book in the Bible is Psalms, which contain prayers of all sorts. It is probably the major source of all my prayer poems. We also know that almost all the books of the Bible contain prayers.
I first discovered I could write poetry as a result of what I was writing in a prayer journal.
If we can talk about the Word with someone we cannot see, we can write about it for someone we can see.
Saturate with the Word: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom..." - Colossians 3:16a
Here is the intent. What we think about we will talk about and do. Now if I am saturated with the Word of God it will infiltrate all I do, to include what I write. If one is richly bathed in God's word, one will not only write scripturally but also richly.
We like to mark our Bibles. Let the Bible mark us. It will appear in what we write.
Live the Word: “If you love Me, keep My commandments." - John 14:15
I think we can all agree that we learn more about the Lord when we seek to live out His word. This will also affect what we write. This is probably the highest calling of a Christian writer. Living the word is the embodiment of worship itself. Our writing about the word of God is no less true.
If we live the Word the Word will be our primary and supreme subject. This may be the closest we become to being like the living Word.
After reading this, many will see that this is something every Christian should do, and not just Christians who are writers. That would be the point. I believe all we do as Christian writers should come from the overflow of our relationship with the Lord. Since we seek to glorify Him, it should be Him we should glorify. We can only do this by the Scriptures that truly portray the one true Biblical God.
Some may get discouraged reading this, because it is quite a pursuit. What we should remember is that the Lord knew what we needed to live, let alone write about. He will never tell us to do something that we are unable to do. That is where the Bible comes in concerning living and writing the Word. The realistic goal is not to be an expert in God's Word, though it is actually possible (Ezra 7:11) but to have a working knowledge of Scripture.
This does not require a special person. If we remember every person in the Bible is ordinary. That is where the Lord is glorified (1 Corinthians 1:26-29; James 5:17a). The Bible compares people to cups or vessels. What makes them different from each other is their contents.
If this is done not only will one be more prepared to write scriptural poetry but their understanding of the Person of God and His Son will improve.
Very few writers will disagree with the concept of writing about what we know best. Imagine that true in this case.
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