At times, our walk with Jesus can feel like a desert wasteland. Bible reading becomes stale, prayer seems empty, and God feels distant. Spiritual dryness is when we feel empty and struggle in our relationship with Christ. Often, spiritually dry seasons can come during periods of hardship or struggle.
We do not understand what God is doing and we do not necessarily like it. Even though we may feel stuck in a “spiritual” desert, God provides ways for us to receive spiritual refreshment and renewal.
In His wisdom and love, God does sometimes allow us to endure the desert because only then can we experience the oasis of His abiding presence and help.
When we feel spiritually dry, there are several steps we can take. Reflecting on God’s faithfulness, focusing on the gospel, and persevering in Bible reading and prayer are all ways to recharge and experience spiritual revitalization.
Although we may continue to struggle in our walk with God, taking these steps can keep us rooted until the dry season is over.
1. Remember What God Did in the Past
Throughout Scripture, people often reflected on God’s deeds in the past to encourage them in the present. Asaph described this in Psalm 77 when he questioned if God was still helping His people Israel (Psalm 77:7-9).
Greatly distressed by this thought, Asaph was unable to sleep and cried out to the Lord for help (Psalm 77:1, 4-6). He was so grieved that his “spirit grew faint” (Psalm 77:3). Surely, people going through a season of spiritual dryness can relate to Asaph’s frustration and questioning.
However, instead of giving over to complete despair and hopelessness, Asaph chose to remember what God did in the past.
As he wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:11-14, NIV).
Asaph chose to remember God’s saving act when He brought Israel out of Egypt by the parting of the Red Sea (Psalm 77:15-20). Like other books in the Bible demonstrate, the Exodus event served as a continual reminder of God’s faithfulness in Old Testament times (Nehemiah 9:11; Isaiah 51:10).
Believers today can also find refreshment from spiritual dryness by remembering God’s faithfulness. Studying the Bible can enliven a person’s faith since Scripture includes numerous examples of God’s wondrous deeds toward His people (Psalm 86:10).
Also, keeping a personal record of answered prayers or specific examples of God’s work can provide fresh hope. Even if our faith feels stale, we can receive the assurance that “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9, ESV).
2. Meditate on the Gospel
Another way a person can reinvigorate their faith is by focusing on the gospel. God’s great love in providing salvation from sin is an amazing truth and one which Christians would benefit from regularly meditating on.
A person could even call this preaching the gospel to themselves. As is noted by Bible teachers and pastors, such as John Piper and Paul Tripp, “Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a spiritual discipline.”
Doing so is more than merely knowing the information of Jesus’ death and resurrection but involves thinking deeply about His saving act and letting it sink into our hearts.
Even while we were enemies of God, undeserving of His love, He died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus endured the intense suffering of the cross and separation from His Father as He bore the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:4-7; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
He took our sin upon Himself so we could have forgiveness and the hope of eternal life (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ’s resurrection, He defeated the power of sin and death so that all who believe in His death and resurrection will be saved (Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 56-57).
Only by His grace is anyone saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). Despite our unworthiness, believers in Christ are called children of God and are completely loved by Him (John 1:12-13). Truly, there is no greater message than the gospel.
Because Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection is the foundation of the believer’s faith (1 Corinthians 3:11), Christians can experience spiritual renewal by meditating on the gospel. In the biblical sense, meditation is not emptying the mind as Eastern religions teach.
Rather, biblical meditation is thinking deeply about a verse or spiritual truth. Intentionally dwelling on Jesus’ saving act by preaching the gospel to ourselves is a vital practice to do when we experience spiritual dryness.
3. Stay Connected to God
In addition to remembering God’s work and saving act, believers who are experiencing a season of spiritual dryness need to invest in their relationship with God through Bible reading and prayer.
Reading Scripture or talking to God may seem like the last thing we want to do when we feel spiritually dry, but these disciplines are vital to receiving spiritual refreshment. Cutting ourselves off from the Lord will not help relieve the dryness in our walk with God.
The Bible is much more than an interesting book. It is the living Word of God and has the power to change lives (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12). Reading Scripture allows believers to hear from the Lord since the Holy Spirit is the ultimate author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21).
As the promised Living Water to those who believe (John 4:10; 7:38), the Holy Spirit can bring refreshment to Christians in their walk with God when they commit to reading Scripture. New insights are waiting in God’s Word if only we will seek to find them.
Prayer is also an essential discipline for the spiritually dry Christian. Personal sin or hardship may be the reason for a season of spiritual dryness, but believers need to continue to pray. Scripture promises that a person who confesses their sin will receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Also, challenging times can serve as a catalyst for authenticity in a Christian’s relationship with God. Often, David wrote his most personal and heartfelt prayers during times of hardship (Psalm 22, 27, 32). Even the Lord Jesus spent regular time in prayer. He did not stop praying even when faced with the suffering of the cross (Matthew 26:36-46).
Staying connected to God is vital for Christians who want to experience a fresh spiritual life. Angrily turning away from Him or shutting Him out will only make the spiritual wasteland worse. Believers should instead cry out to the Lord and listen for His voice in the Word.
4. Be Open to the Opportunity of Spiritual Growth
Regardless of the reason for spiritual dryness, we can find refreshment when we remember God’s faithfulness in the past, reflect on the significance of the gospel message, and stay connected to God through prayer and Bible reading.
Sometimes in the most difficult circumstances and struggles, God can help us grow in our relationship with Him. In His faithfulness, He uses events and circumstances, even hard ones, for His glory. As Hebrews 10:23 reminds us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
For further reading:
How to Have Hope in Anxious Times
How Is ‘Every Hour I Need Thee’ True?
How Does God Restore Your Soul When You Feel Broken?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/sandsun
Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.