All Christians experience spiritual dry spells. There are no exceptions. We will go through periods where God seems distant, prayer is difficult, Bible-reading feels dead, worship doesn’t excite, and a sense of purposelessness descends on us.
When you run into a spiritual desert, what do you do? I want to suggest ten strategies for dealing with a spiritual dry spell. I am not advocating that you try all ten, but rather that you try several of them in order to help regain your focus and experience the joy of your walk with the Lord again.
Remember the Gospel
Spiritual dryness is almost always accompanied by guilt and shame. We start thinking that real Christians shouldn’t struggle like this. When we hear other Christians talking about their rich spiritual lives and all the things the Lord is teaching them, we want to run for the hills because we don’t have a similar testimony to give.
Christian, remember that you are not accepted by God because you have a thriving spiritual life. God justifies you before him and reconciles you to him through your faith in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. Look to Christ and let him take away your guilt and shame. Remember your salvation comes from him and not from your own efforts.
Change Your Bible Reading Routine
Sometimes our Bible reading plans stand in the way of us engaging with God’s word in a meaningful way. While a plan is a good guide, set it to the side for a while if you need a change of pace. If you’ve been reading three to five chapters a day, slow down and dig deep into one or two paragraphs. If you’re reading shorter sections, take the time to read a whole book or section of a book in one sitting. This kind of change can help to reinvigorate your passion for God’s word.
Drive Deeper into Your Prayer Life
The first thing to dry up spiritually is your prayer life. You don’t pray out of guilt and shame, so now you have guilt and shame for not praying. The only way through this is to pray until you feel like you have prayed. Remember that you only come to the Father in the name of Jesus and that he welcomes you into his presence based on Jesus’ merit and not your own.
Get Some Sleep
We make a serious mistake when we try to act as if what is happening with our bodies does not affect our spiritual lives. When you run day after day on too little sleep, it impacts every area of your life. You are less alert in prayer and Bible reading. You have less stamina to war against sin. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your walk with the Lord is to get eight hours of sleep.
Go One Full Day without Distractions
We do not realize how much the internet affects our attention span and our spiritual lives. The pull of our phone’s apps and social networks beckon us at the worst time. If we are not careful, we can spend hours a day scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and YouTube videos while ignoring the word and prayer. In addition, the presence of our phones decreases the quality of conversations that we have with other people. Find a day that you can abstain from these apps completely and interact with your phone as little as possible. Replace that time with Bible reading, a walk in the woods, time with friends, reading a good book, spending time in prayer, or taking a nap. You’ll find that there’s a real world you often forget to interact with.
Find Someone to ServeSometimes our spiritual lives stagnate because we become overly preoccupied with our own interests. A thriving walk with the Lord shouldn’t just give me joy but should propel me out to love others in the name of Jesus. Work through your local church or a group of friends to find someone else to serve. This can be something as simple as taking someone a meal or helping in their yard. Either way, getting outside of your own interests and focusing on other people can help us refocus the direction of our lives.
As I write this post, I am currently sitting in my windowless office. If I spend most of my day in here and then go home and sit in my living room for the rest of the night, I will find myself slipping into a state of depression. However, when I make the time to get outside, even if it is for a strenuous workout, I find myself with more energy and focus when I am done. This is likely related to our addiction to our distractions, but getting outside gives me more joy and seems to rejuvenate my mind and spirit.
When your spiritual life seems dry, look for something that could bring you joy. Find some good music focused on the goodness and grace of God. Sing along with it, praying the entire time that God would use this to bring joy back into your life. I think we see this in the Psalms. The Psalmists continually point to singing out to God from the pit of despair as a remedy for our pain and feeling that God is distant.
Read a Challenging Book
Find a good Christian book that is different from the Christian books you usually read. If you usually read light devotional literature, find a weighty theological book and take the time to truly wrestle with its message. (Here’s a list to get you started.) If you are usually wading through 500-page theology books, read a shorter book on prayer, a collection of sermons, or a devotional book on the Christian life. What you might find is that getting into something out of your usual stream will stir your mind and heart in a way that they haven’t been in a while.
Talk to a Friend
One other mistake that often leads to spiritual dry spells is us unintentionally isolating ourselves. Because we are “connected” to so many people through the Internet, we often forget to spend time with the flesh and blood people around us. If you’re wallowing in difficulty and spiritual stagnation, set aside some time to get with some Christian friends and spend time together. You’ll find that it’s encouraging to you and gives you a chance to be encouraging to them as well.
Again, I don’t recommend that you go try all of these tomorrow, but choose a couple, commit to them, and pray that the Lord would fan the flames of your love for him again.
“Why You Should Live in the Psalms“
For Further Reading:
Supernatural Power for Everyday People by Jared Wilson
Simplify Your Spiritual Life by Donald Whitney