Chances are, if you’ve been a Christian for some time, you’ve probably felt spiritually dry or distant from God. You try to pray and it seems like nothing is happening. You come to church but your heart’s not into it. You don’t even want to open your Bible. Following Jesus just seems so mundane.
What should we do when we’re feeling dry? How do we respond to spiritual dryness?
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK
I have 10 suggestions for the spiritually dry Christian. Keep in mind, however, that these are not given for you to simply grit your teeth and try harder—You’ll just stay stuck.
These are given as ways for you to open your heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. He is ultimately the agent of transformation. Depend on Him as you consider these suggestions:
1. UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE OF YOUR SPIRITUAL DRYNESS
Spiritual dryness can be caused by so many different things. Take time to be honest with yourself about where your dryness might be coming from. Identifying the root cause(s) may not be the fix, but it can help provide clarity on how to address the issue.
2. EMBRACE YOUR WEAKNESS
No one likes to admit that they’re weak. We like to give off the impression that we’re strong and self-sufficient. But the Christian life is all about embracing your weakness and constantly depending on God’s grace (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
3. BE OPEN AND HONEST WITH GOD
Most Christians going through spiritual dryness tend to shut out God from their lives. But we need to be more open to Him than ever in these seasons. If you don’t know what to say, take the words of passages such as Psalm 88 and pray them as your own. Be open and honest before Him.
4. PREACH THE GOSPEL TO YOURSELF
During our spiritual dryness, our hearts tend to blabber on about negative things: “God is not good. God seems so distant. God doesn’t care.” But instead of listening to ourselves, we need to preach to ourselves (Ps. 43:5). We need to ground ourselves in truth: “God is faithful. God is working for our good and for His glory. God is near. God loves us. God is growing us.” We need to preach this good news to ourselves.
5. CONFESS YOUR DRYNESS
I’ve talked about being honest with ourselves and being honest with God, but we also need to be honest with others (James 5:16). Instead of hiding our dryness, we need to confess it. Sure, we don’t want to look weak in front of others, or perhaps we don’t want to burden others. But keeping it to ourselves only makes the problem worse. There is freedom that comes with confession.
6. BE ROOTED IN COMMUNITY
When we are going through spiritual dryness, we often feel like others won’t care or understand. But we must always be rooted in community (1 Cor. 12:26). Have others fight for you when you don’t have the strength to fight for yourself. Have them pray for you when you don’t have the desire to pray for yourself. Have them preach to you when you have a hard time preaching to yourself.
7. ENGAGE IN SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES
Spiritual disciplines are things like reading God’s Word, praying, singing, serving, fellowshipping, etc. These are intentional practices that open you up to God. Spiritual disciplines are not about pushing the right buttons or earning brownie points with God so that He blesses us. Instead, they are about creating space in our lives to let God work in our hearts (Phil. 2:12-13).
8. ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL DISCIPLINES
Physical rest does spiritual good. There is benefit to physical discipline (1 Tim. 4:8). Eating right, sleeping enough, and regularly exercising are good for us. If you’ve been depriving yourself of sleep or food or even just fresh air, you may actually be contributing to your own spiritual dryness.
9. LEARN FROM WISE COUNSELORS
You’re not the only one who has gone through spiritual dryness. Others have gone through it before and they’ve made it out on the other side. Having wise mentors and counselors are helpful in navigating through those dry seasons (Prov. 12:15). They can ask good questions and point out the work that God is doing in you.
10. WAIT UPON THE LORD
There’s no way of going around the desert of spiritual dryness. We can only go through it. So give yourself time. You might be tempted to just rush through and get it over with, or to just hope that it might eventually pass. But don’t miss out on what God is doing during this season. Be patient. Hang in there. Wait upon the Lord (Isa. 40:31).
Josh Lim serves as the Pastor of OMC Family Chapel.