Have you ever gone through a dry spell in your Bible study or prayer life? It is something, I think, we all face at some time or another and to be honest it is quite a sad feeling. We long to reconnect to God and get the old spiritual motor humming again but instead we sputter along on quick bedtime prayers and a few lines out of the Bible hoping that will be enough to revive us. It never is.
I’m not sure if I’m going through a full-scale dry spell but it feels like it and that is bad enough. Here are some of the ways I know I am having a spiritual struggle. I don’t wake up filled with a desire to open the Bible and study. When our spiritual life is firing on all cylinders we can hardly wait to begin our morning devotion. Now, we may go through the motions of morning worship where we open the Bible, do a little study, and meditate a bit upon the text, but our heart is not in it.
Another way I realize I’m in a spiritual slump is that I find myself spending more and more time looking for entertainment on the Internet than in writing and study. I’ll read news blogs, listen to talk shows and spend a great amount of time on sports articles. Are any of these things bad? Of course not, but when they become the major activity of your online searches it might well be time to cut back a bit.
I find that when I’m in a spiritual slump I become distracted from study fairly easily. I find excuses to leave the study and go do things, even things that I don’t like doing. And I start finding things to do around the house and yard that I would normally shrug off or put on my to do list for the following week.
I also find that my prayer life suffers, my desire for outreach suffers and my commitment to spiritual exercises like meditation and reflection simply dry up. Don’t get me wrong, my desire to pray and grow spiritually are still there it’s just I have a hard time placing my hearts desire and my motivation into the same package.
The good thing is that we only know we are in a time of less than stellar spiritual awakening because the Spirit is working on our hearts. For the vast majority of the world this blog makes absolutely no sense because they have never had an encounter with Jesus to such an extent that their entire being is consumed with a desire to know Him better. But those of you who read this blog know what I’m talking about and understand very well the agony of being conflicted between your desire and motivation to draw close to God.
The other good news about spiritual dry spells is they don’t last. We bounce back and, for some reason, our study and meditation and prayer seem deeper than ever. Some of you might be feeling like you’ve been in that slump for longer than you can remember, but don’t lose hope. You will come out of it. I had a time of almost sixteen years that I had no interest in picking up the Bible, praying consistently or growing spiritually, but I came out of it in a single day of reflection.
This all leads me to the final points I want to make about this topic. God never gives up on us, stops loving us, or turns His back on us. Some of the many countless things I love about God are His patience, understanding, kindness, and encouragement when we struggle spiritually. It is because we are not exercising our spiritual mussels that we begin to feel distant from Jesus and the nagging feeling in the back of our mind begins to accuse and make us believe God is unpleased.
Now, here is the real good news. God’s love for us does not depend upon how much time we spend in study and prayer. God’s love for us is unconditional. In fact none of us spends nearly enough time with God even when we are at the top of our game spiritually. So don’t feel guilty about the amount of time you spend in spiritual pursuits because that is not the point.
What is important is that we stay open to the leading of the Spirit and continue to listen for His voice. Down times, dry spells, spiritual dullness or whatever we call our struggles with maintaining an exciting, growing relationship with God can be times of growth in of themselves.
It is because we are not spending the time that we would like in study and prayer that we realize how much we love it and miss it when we drift away. It is also a simple thing to fix, we simply allow the Spirit to guide us back to where our heart is.
I guess what I’m really saying in this post is don’t be discouraged or feel like you have distanced yourself from God simply because you’re going through a spiritual down time. It might actually be good for you and allows you to renew your batteries for a new spiritual adventure that lies ahead.
To be a follower of Christ is not about performance, including how much time we spend in study and prayer, it is about trusting God to love us through the storms and doldrums of life. God loves you when you are in front of the TV and He loves you when you are pouring over the Gospel. What our devotions, prayers, and study do is help us to appreciate that love more fully. Remember, you are always a child of God and there will be a time when you will find yourself phoning your Father to check in.
From this song it would seem that Rich Mullins felt that distance from God at times as well. He very passionately expressed his feelings in this song. He never had the chance to record the song himself. This is a nice rendition from a Tribute Concert for Rich.