By Andy McClurg, PhD
College of Theology
June 13, 2019
Does your love for God sometimes seem like it is like a feeble flame, ready to be blown out by the next strong wind? Do the spiritual disciplines seem at times to be drudgery? Does it sometimes seem as if your prayers are getting no higher than the ceiling? There are at least four steps that we can use to deal with such seasons of spiritual dryness.
Step 1: Turn to God and pray
It may sound obvious, but the answer to any problem is to turn to God. God already knows what we are going through, and he wants us to bring all our problems to him. First, I need to turn to God for forgiveness if there is clear sin in my life. But often, God can seem far away even when I am not aware of obvious sins. I can still turn to God, and ask him to help. Psalm 16:11 says: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” I can pray that God will make us know his ways and fill me with joy in his presence.
Step 2: Talk to yourself rather than listening to yourself
We need to learn to speak the truth to ourselves, rather than listening to the doubts and complaints that come pouring out of our minds. David wrote in Psalm 103:1-2: “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul and forget not all his benefits.” David told himself to praise God, and reminded himself of all of God’s blessings. We need to affirm God’s truth to ourselves. For example, as a Christian, God has promised that nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
Step 3: Keep up your spiritual disciplines
During times when we feel like we are passing through a spiritual wilderness it is critical that we keep practicing our spiritual disciplines, in particular Bible reading, prayer and meeting with other Christians for worship. These disciplines are means that God uses to strengthen us and protect us and we need to keep at them even when we do not feel like it. To paraphrase an old lesson from sailing: “When the wind dies, you need to start rowing.”
Step 4: Wait and expect God to answer your prayers
Finally, we need to wait on God’s timing and trust that God will answer our prayers when the perfect time arrives. Psalm 40:1-2 says: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
All of us go through times of spiritual drought. We want to turn to God, speak God’s truth to ourselves, continue our spiritual disciplines, and wait for God to renew his presence in our lives.