None of these suggestions will guard us from all spiritual drought. Because we are sinful and because we live in a fallen world with fallen bodies, we must face up to the reality that spiritual dryness will come again. That is why the psalmist says that the Word of God restores his soul (Ps. 19:7). That it was in need of restoring implies that his soul was no longer in a happy, satisfied state—it was in need of refreshment. Knowing this and recognizing potential causes of spiritual drought can help us to weather seasons of little or no rain.
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that spiritual passion, sight, and affections ebb and flow. At times our sense of spiritual realities can be strong and vibrant. Other times our hearts feel like lead weights, and we find ourselves longing for God to visit us once again and bring refreshment (Ps. 85:4-7). These seasons are usually referred to as times of “spiritual drought” or “spiritual dryness” and find intimate expression in many of the Psalms.
David often cried out to God in times where his soul seemed like dust, and he yearned to be refreshed by the presence of the Lord (Ps. 13; Ps. 63). Other psalmists expressed their longing to have their parched souls be replenished by the Lord (Psalm 42). Those who have tasted of the goodness of Christ know what it means to be without that taste; it leaves us pleading, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3).
Spiritual drought, though a persistent and unwelcome visitor, is not something with which we must constantly live. There are Biblical means by which we can, by grace, put ourselves in the way of refreshment; we can be restored to once again feel the joy of our salvation. But this can only happen if we are able to discern why we might be experiencing spiritual dryness, so we can take the appropriate action. With this in mind, I would like to suggest a few reasons we may be experiencing a season of spiritual drought and provide the correlating remedies.
1. Unchecked Lust
Peter’s warning could not be more explicit: “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11). Impure thoughts and freshly cultivated fantasies will only dull our sense of spiritual things; this is what Peter means when he tells us that lust “wages war against the soul.” Harboring lust defiles our conscience, feeds our sinful flesh, and withers our spiritual vitality.
If we are experiencing the ravages of spiritual drought, it may be because we are entertaining our minds with lust and feeding our sinful desires with suggestive movies, magazines, internet sites, or by simply visiting the local mall. The only remedy called for here is sincere confession and repentance (Prov. 28:13; I John 1:9). In order to find our souls once again enthralled with the joy of our salvation, we must confess these sins and turn from them (Ps. 51:1-12), resolving to no longer make any provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).
Jesus, in confronting the Pharisees’ desire for self-exaltation, provides a valuable insight as to how pride relates to faith. The Pharisees were unable to see the truth and beauty of Christ, because they were infatuated with their own glory and loved receiving praise from men. Jesus asks them, “‘How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?’” (John 5:44). Saving faith was hindered by their pride.
And although this passage speaks specifically of pride obstructing saving faith, I think we can safely apply this principle to our lives as Christians: pride kills faith in Jesus. If we are nurturing self-love—seeking praise and appreciation from our friends, our congregation, our professors, our supervisor, or those who read our blogs—we will find out very quickly that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). Our souls will shrivel as we fill them with the glory that comes from man. On the other hand, turning from ourselves and our reputations to exalt Christ at all costs will bring about spiritual renewal since “[God] gives grace to the humble.”