Spiritual Formation Thursday: Spiritual Dryness

desertSpiritual dryness is probably one of the biggest secrets kept in churches.  Many people go to church and go through the motions, pretending everything is alright, without feeling that God is close to them or listening to their prayers.  This dryness can affect the laity, leadership, and clergy of a church; even those who seem to have the best spiritual life, experience dry spells.  The worst case scenario might be Christians who have been and always feel they are stuck in a desert.  I know, for several years after becoming a Christian I was in a desert, with a few oases every once in a while.  But then I was able to address the problem and was led out of the desert by the Holy Spirit, spiritual mentors, and friends.

I believe the best way to overcome spiritual dryness, is to admit there is a problem.  Tell God that you are experiencing spiritual dryness and tell people around you; a spiritual mentor, spouse or friends, someone who can help keep you accountable to keep praying.

Another way to combat dryness is to pray, even if you feel like God is far way and not listening, PRAY!  Now there are some things that can cause spiritual dryness.  One thing is sin; some people who have not confessed their sins to God or a priest can experience spiritual dryness.  It is probably best to pray and ask God if there is any sin that you need to correct in your life, and then in prayer, wait for God to respond.  He might bring to mind some sins that you might have forgotten about, or nothing may come to mind, in which case you can move on, to a different approach.  Spiritual dryness can come from nothing at all; it might just be the path that God has set you upon.  St. Teresa of Ávila experienced a 20 year period of spiritual dryness.  But she kept praying and kept reaching out to God.

Anyone experiencing a dry spell should also be honest about it, when praying to God.  Let him know that you are not experiencing what you once felt or that you would like to experience his Holy Spirit more in prayer.  He is a loving Father and will give us good gifts and things that we need.  I am not advocating fake it until you make it.  Be honest with God about your feelings, speak to him as you might a friend, yell if you need to, scream, or weep, God knows you have these emotions, he created them and he wants you to use them.  Simple prayers might be best at this point, you do not have to pray for hours on end, you can say several small prayers or have a real conversation with God.

You should continue to seek out the case of a dry spell if you are experiencing it.  But it might be a long time before you find the answer.  You might be over the dry spell for some time before God reveals to you the reason for the dry spell.

It can be hard to continue on when you are in the midst of a dry spell, but one way to keep going is to remember the blessings God has given you before.  Remember the times when God was close to you and when you experienced his presence.  Let those memories encourage you and lead you to continue to search for God.

Lastly remember that dry spells do not last forever!  It might seem like it and you might want to give up on God and just go through the motions, but do not give up.  God loves you and wants you to experience the fullness of life in him.

Question: Have you had to deal with a dry spell in your spiritual life?  How long did it last?  How did it feel when you came out of it?

About Jesse

I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Theology focusing on Church History. I am a Third Order Benedictine monk, in the Company of Jesus. I am married to a wonderful woman, we just had a baby Michaela Rose. You can follow me and be alerted of new blog post by following me on Twitter @jtalexanderiv. Or following this blog.
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2 Responses to Spiritual Formation Thursday: Spiritual Dryness

  1. Josh says:

    What I like about the Anglican liturgy is that it helps when you feel this sort of spiritual dryness. I have too often attended the common Non-Denom/Baptist/Community/Pentecostal type church and found myself just to into it. The singing leads to a emotional high (rightly so!). By if you don’t share in the common emotional high, then it can very lonely, and you start wondering where God is at. The Anlican liturgy involves more senses and more allows a wider variety of participation. It has helped me realize that worshipping God is not just a passive thing I participate in; rather it calls me to actively listen to God during my worship. It brings meaning and activity to the phrase, “Fake it ’til you make it.”

  2. Jesse says:

    Josh, I totally agree, the Anglican Liturgy can appeal to many different spiritual temperaments.

    However, I would also suggest not just using something like the Book of Common Prayer’s Morning or Evening Offices, when you are in a spiritually dry place. It can be and is a great jumping off place and a great place to prime the pump, as it were. But once one gets past the Lord’s prayer and into the collects, one should pause and either have a real conversation with God or start one’s own prayers, then end that time of prayer with the General Thanksgiving and closing prayers.

    I have turned to the Book of Common Prayer when I was spiritually dry and found that it can be easy to go through the motions in the Offices. I know that this is not what the Offices were meant to be used for. Some people however, think that this is what it was meant to be used for. Which can lead to some people criticizing the more liturgical branches of the Church.

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