Going through a spiritual dry spell


#1

Hi everyone. I have been going through a spiritual dry spell lately. I absolutely hate it. I want to be passionate about my faith in Christ and His Church again but I don’t know how to get that passion back. If you have any tips or advice, feel free to post them on this thread but primarily I am just asking for prayers that I would come out of this spiritual dry spell.


#2

You’re not alone. It’s hard to keep the fire going. You will be in my prayers.

Lately, I find myself renewed in faith most when I feel challenged and threatened. This may not be for everybody, but faith cannot be nurtured in a vacuum. Sometimes, things has to happen to fire you up again. There are also many non-touristy pilgrimage destination in this country that you can visit. Just a thought. :slight_smile:


#3

Lord, I pray that Holly perseveres through her spiritual dry spell. Consolations will be sure to come to Holly eventually, but perseverence is necessary at this time of desolation. Help her to still make time for prayer, even if it means her just sitting alone with you and uniting her love and belief to you without the use of words. This is the best prayer she can do, according to the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, an excellent book on contemplation. May Holly try and get to daily Mass, if that is possible, and do some good spiritual reading. Maybe good films on the life of Jesus or on the lives of the saints can help inspire her to pray more and to persevere. May she pray for perseverence and try and do more works of charity. May she keep on praying, as this absolutely necessary. Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer. Amen.


#4

You are not alone!

All of the Saints (Mother Theresa, St. John of the Cross, just to name a few ) went through challenges and tough times.

What made them Saints was the fact that they persevered and trusted in Jesus, no matter how difficult their trials were!

Stop trying to do everything yourself, just be in God’s Grace and let Him guide you!

As our Blessed Mother Mary said; "His mother said to the servants, **“Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5).
**
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark


#5

We all go through those sometimes. If faith were easy, then what would be the point of it?

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen


#6

There are lots of reasons for a dry spell. Once one gets past the obvious ones (sin, lack of effort, depression, etc.), there remains the somewhat mysterious process by which God weans us away from spiritual consolation as we mature spiritually. A great contemporary book on this is “When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings” by Thomas Green, SJ:

amazon.com/When-Well-Runs-Dry-Beginnings/dp/1594711372/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250883169&sr=1-1

A real classic, very readable. What makes spiritual desolation so very difficult for many devout Christians is that despite their best efforts to maintain a close relationship with God, God at times seems distant. Thomas Merton, OCSO, for example, said in his wonderful book “New Seeds of Contemplation,” “Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.”

If the desolation continues or becomes unbearable, spiritual direction can be very helpful.


#7

Thank you for your prayers and your advice.

Thank you for your prayers ready.

Thank you for your prayers and your advice Mark.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thank you for your prayers and your book recommendation.


#8

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen


#9

Lord as stress can cause a flatness in our emotions, please help Holly to rest and sleep well.


#10

Praying fervently for you.

9 Tips for Spiritual Dry Spells
It seems like a lot of people I know are going through spiritual dry spells lately, feeling apathetic about their relationship with God and/or feeling like God’s voice is silent during a difficult time. In case it’s helpful to anyone, I thought I’d post a list of some practical tips I’ve heard on the subject that I learned during my own times of spiritual dryness:

  1. Make sure you’re not doing anything to block out God’s voice

As I’ve talked about before, my conversion started in a spiritual dry spell; I didn’t feel God’s presence in my life at all. It all changed for me after I read the C.S. Lewis quote that I discussed in this post, in which he pointed out that asking God to dwell in a heart filled with darkness would be like asking the sun to reflect off of a dusty mirror.

Though it’s not as simple as cutting out sin = feeling great spiritual consolation (since, as we’ll talk about in #9, God sometimes has a purpose behind letting us experience spiritual dry spells), there are some cases, like me at the beginning of my conversion, where it’s mostly just an issue of the filth of sin blocking out God’s light. I’ve found that it’s easy for me to slide into “little” daily sins like gossip, envy, uncharity and especially pride, and when I do, I’m often left feeling distant from God until I make a serious effort to amend my ways.

  1. Keep praying (no, seriously, keep praying)

I know that when I’m feeling distant from God, the first thing to go is my prayer life. “Why bother?” I’ll even catch myself thinking sometimes. It’s during these times that it’s most important to remember that prayer is not all about what we get out of it, that God is worthy of our praise and worship even if we don’t get nice experiences or emotions in return. Also, the only hope for getting out of a spiritual dry spell is increased communication with God, not decreased. A prayer through gritted teeth saying, “I feel abandoned, I feel like I’m talking to myself when I pray,” is better than no prayer at all.

Along these lines, my spiritual director once pointed out that a spiritual dry spell is not the time to start subtracting spiritual practices that you once felt called to do. For example, if a few months ago during a period of closeness to God you felt strongly led to pray a Psalm every morning, don’t stop doing it just because you’re experiencing a spiritual dry spell. Wait until you’ve regained the peace of the Holy Spirit to abandon things you once felt called to do.

  1. Receive the sacraments

If you’re Catholic, increase the frequency with which you receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. As with prayer, it’s tempting to slack off on going to Mass or Confession if it doesn’t lead to an emotional experience, but the sacraments are channels of grace regardless of how we feel when we receive them. If you need some good motivation, here’s an article about the power of the Eucharist, and here’s some great info about Confession. (If anyone’s interested, here are my own thoughts on receiving the Eucharist and confessing my sins to a priest.)

  1. Read inspiring spiritual books

I never cease to be amazed at what a boon it is to my spiritual life to always have a good, inspiring book going (in addition to the Bible, which I think of more as prayer than as light reading). A while back I noticed that I’d drifted into feeling lukewarm about my faith, and then I remembered that I’d been steeping myself in only secular reading material for the past few months. I found a good book that challenged me to live my faith more fully, and found that it alone reignited much of my lost zeal. I still read many secular books, but I try to always have an inspiring book about the faith going as well, and it works wonders for keeping me energized. If you’re looking for some specific recommendations, all of the following books are all excellent:

* Mother Teresa's Secret Fire
* In the Shadow of His Wings
* Come Be My Light
* He Leadeth Me
* Finding God's Will for You
* 10 Prayers God Always Says Yes To

If you have some book recommendations, please let us know in the comments!

  1. Make sure there’s not a physical cause

As I talked about back here, I once went to my spiritual director to get advice about my slack prayer habits, and her surprising response was to tell me to get more sleep. After a lot of prayer and thought, I realized that not taking care of myself physically can have seriously negative repercussions in my spiritual life.

Though we always have free will to turn to God no matter what the circumstances (as I was recently reminded), I’ve found that if I’m staying up too late, constantly eating junk food, not exercising, pushing myself too hard, etc., I’m far more tempted to turn away from God than when I’m feeling good physically – and this alone can lead to spiritual dry spells. Again, there’s not always a direct cause-and-effect relationship to your physical wellbeing and your spiritual life, but if you’re in a spiritual dry spell it’s worth at least taking a look at what’s going on physically to see if there are any contributing factors in that department.


#11

continued:

  1. Make sure you’re recharging your batteries

This is similar to the above, but it’s so important yet so often overlooked that I think it’s worth addressing as a separate point. A few years ago I took a Birkman personality inventory where I learned about the critical importance of understanding how you recharge your batteries, i.e. knowing what activities give you energy vs. what activities drain your energy.

I cannot overstate the impact this had on my life. I learned that I am an introvert, which means not that I don’t like people (in fact one of my great pleasures in getting together with friends and meeting new people), but that the way I recharge my batteries is by having quiet time alone or just with my husband – and when I don’t get that time I end up in a state of psychological distress. Once I understood the high importance of making sure that I got regular introvert time to recharge my batteries, not only did my ability to deal with daily life increase, but my spiritual life improved significantly as well since I found myself spending much more time in a peaceful, calm state of mind.

All that is to say: especially if you’re experiencing a spiritual dry spell, spend some time reflecting on how you recharge your batteries, and then make sure you’re carving out time for those activities. Introverts who aren’t getting any down time or extroverts who are constantly cooped up in the house are going to have a hard time functioning, let alone deepening their relationships with God.

  1. Find a spiritual director

I’ve found it invaluable to meet regularly with a trained spiritual director to help me grow in my faith, especially when I’m experiencing times of spiritual dryness. Spiritual directors can help you work through questions like, “Am I doing something to block out God’s voice?”, “What could be the purpose for God’s silence in my life right now?”, “How can I keep praying when I feel so unmotivated?”, etc. Here’s a post about how to find a spiritual director.

  1. Consider counseling

If you think you might have serious unresolved issues in your life that are impacting your relationship with God, you may want to consider finding a Christian counselor to help you gain peace in those areas of your life. For example, I once heard someone who had an abusive father say that she had a major block relating to God as Father because of her experiences growing up, and it really helped her relationship with God to resolve that issue through counseling. Here’s a site for finding Christian counselors, and here’s one for finding Catholic counselors. Also, I’ve heard rave reviews of the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s telecounseling service, which offers Christian counseling over the phone.

  1. Research the Christian understanding of spiritual dry spells

If you’ve done all of the above and nothing is better, it may simply be that God is withholding spiritual consolation from you for a reason. I once posted a great email I received addressing why God allows us to have spiritual dry spells, which I highly recommend reading. Also, in addition to reading the thoughts of great historical Christian thinkers who experienced spiritual darkness like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, you may also find inspiration in reading up on the life of Mother Theresa. She once wrote in a letter:

* this terrible sense of loss, this untold darkness, this loneliness, this continual longing for God, which gives me that pain deep down in my heart. Darkness is such that I really do not see, neither with my mind nor with my reason. The place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me. When the pain of longing is so great I just long and long for God and then it is that I feel He does not want me, He is not there...Sometimes I just hear my own heart cry out ‘My God' and nothing else comes. The torture and pain I can't explain.

If you’re experiencing something like this, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone; some of the greatest saints in history, including our own Mother Teresa, went through terribly difficult periods in their faith. One of the books I mentioned above, Come Be My Light, specifically address how Mother Teresa overcame her own darkness and might be a source of inspiration for anyone experiencing something similar.*


#12

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