Three Questions to Ask Yourself in Seasons of Spiritual Dryness

If you are trudging through a season of spiritual dryness, you are not alone. How can we overcome the spiritual doldrums?

If you are trudging through a season of spiritual dryness, there is a distinct possibility that you are not alone.

Even the most passionate, on-fire, robust-in-their-faith Christian walks through days, weeks, and even months of feeling empty inside. They can feel distant from God and spiritually listless. We read in Scripture about heroes of the faith who experienced a sense of detachment from God. In our churches, we see people who once filled the pews but now prefer to stay home on Sunday mornings. Most likely, we primarily recognise this spiritual sluggishness in ourselves.

You may be aware of the “symptoms.” Do you feel bored when reading the Bible, disinterest in prayer, weariness with church attendance, a sense of purposelessness, a lack of joy, and a gradual pulling away from the Lord because he seems too distant to understand?

Spiritual dry spells may be common but if we take them too lightly, they can unravel our relationship with God and others. Before long, a “season” of spiritual dullness can morph into a life of soul weariness. A lukewarm heart can turn icy cold and calloused.

What are some ways to face a season of emptiness so it does not dictate how we relate to God? How do we get through the spiritual doldrums?

What is Really Going On?

Before we call it quits on our quiet times because we are not “getting anything” out of them or because God seems distant, we ought to check on what is really going on in the landscape of our lives. Is there something preoccupying our time, our minds, and our space so that it leaves little room for God? Could it be the stress of a job? The distraction of screens? The pressure of raising kids? Just plain exhaustion?

We may be spiritually starving because we are too satiated with mediocre food.

In Scripture, we see the prophet Elijah so emotionally spent that he cries out: “I have had enough, Lord” (1 Kings 19: 4). In that moment of exhaustion, God ministers to Elijah by allowing him rest and providing him with a hot meal so he can carry on with his mission.

Our distance from God, the underlying sense of purposelessness, and listlessness can make us also say, “I have had enough, Lord.” This could be because of physical and emotional tiredness. The thorns of the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Matt. 13: 22). As a result, the fire of our faith grows dim.

While the prescription to spiritual listlessness is not always sleep and a good meal, it could be a start to the work of restoration that God does in our lives. Do we give God the opportunity to bring us to a place of stillness so he can restore us to himself?

Am I Putting God in a Box?

Perhaps God has taken you from one mountain-top experience to another. Maybe you have been riding a spiritual wave where you feel filled to overflowing. As the Sunday School action song goes, it could be that your joy has been, “bubbling, bubbling, bubbling day and night.”

But, inevitably, we all find ourselves in the valley.

As we navigate the low points in our lives or even just the ordinary days, is it possible that God speaks to us differently than on the mountaintop?

Picking up Elijah’s story again, after he has rested and eaten, he travels to Mount Horeb. Then God—the same God who brought down fire on Elijah’s water-soaked sacrifice at Mount Carmel—does not speak through fire, nor an earthquake. He comes to Elijah in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19: 12).

Instead of turning to the Lord, we bow low to the idol of productivity.

Perhaps God is not speaking to you as loudly or spectacularly as he did before. But he still speaks. The question is whether you have quietened yourself to hear the gentle whisper, or if you are insisting he speak to you with a pyrotechnic display.

If we feel spiritually dry, the question is are we still drinking consistently from the Word? There may be times when we receive gushing refreshment from the Scriptures. It quenches our soul’s thirst in an instant. But most often, when we spend time with God, droplets of water fall consistently on dry land and eventually produce a fruitful harvest.

What Am I Gorging On?

We may be spiritually starving because we are too satiated with mediocre food.

Instead of turning to the Lord, we bow low to the idol of productivity. We delude ourselves into thinking that busyness equates to satisfaction. Or we embrace world-views that are seen as ‘inclusive’ to make ourselves seem ‘evolved.’ The soundtrack of our minds is filled with words from the world. Such words seem to empower us but drain us instead. While Jesus promises us abundant life, we opt for a “successful” life.

We are brittle and bone-dry because we abound in worldly wealth, but we have not abided in the Vine (John 15). But God calls us to reorder our priorities by focussing on his love for us in Christ Jesus.

May we not settle for the coldness and disinterest in our walk with God. Instead, let us echo the words of the apostle Paul as we pray to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph. 3: 17-19).