Spiritual ruts, dry spells, periods of stagnancy – they are something most, if not all, Christians experience. Whether it is a dark night of the soul or a season of busyness, it’s easy to wake up and realize that we are not as close to God as we want to be. Spiritual ruts are real. And often, the dryness of our life feels more real than the Living Water that is there and offered to us through Jesus.
As we battle through life’s challenges, it is hard to look past what we can see with our eyes to the equally real, perhaps the more real, truth of the battle raging in the spiritual realm. Opening our eyes wider so that we can see past the temporal and into the spiritual realm is often overwhelming to even start to do.
But is we want to move past the place we’re in, we need to look past what is seen to what is unseen using the tools God has given us in His Word.
Get into the Word
The first thing I need to do when I’m in a spiritual rut is to pick up my Bible and read it. The Word of God is living and active. It is there to help grow and strengthen us.
Too often, we over-complicate it and act like Bible reading is only helpful if we have the right study method or reading plan or are in the right frame of mind when we begin. But the beautiful thing about God’s Word is, it doesn’t depend on us – it depends on Him. He is faithful to work with our groggy early morning or late night time in the Word. Even a few stolen minutes throughout the day are beneficial for us.
If you are in a spiritual rut, you need to make daily time in the Word of God a priority.
Join a Bible Study and Fellowship
Your spiritual walk, my spiritual walk, these are all journeys we need others to join in. We need to build relationships with believers to both encourage us when we are downtrodden and to hold us accountable when we need to live out the commands of the Lord and do what is best for our soul.
Joining a Bible study is a wonderful way to get accountability for getting into the Word of God (and a plan in place if that’s helpful for you) as well as building friendships that are founded on the atoning work of Jesus. Often, these are the friendships that allow you to share your struggles, encourage you in your gifts, and help build you up to be the person God intended you to be.
Confess your sin
If you are feeling distant from God, you need to examine your life and repent of any deep-rooted sin you’ve been ignoring. Often times, seasons of stagnancy in my life cause me to become complacent with the “little white lie” level sins in my life that I’ve convinced myself hurt no one.
Sin never hurts no one, least of all, the person who sins and dismisses their need to change. Every little white lie, every moment of sloth, every unkind word, each uncharitable though is an action that Jesus bled and died for.
But the beautiful thing is, when we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive and to cleanse us (1 John 1:9). Confession is not a place for shame, but a place to experience the life-changing love and forgiveness offered to us through Jesus.
This is a hard discipline to develop mostly because we struggle to understand it. But God doesn’t always ask us to understand, sometimes, He simply asks for our obedience.
In my life, fasting is one of those areas I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand but I fully believe helps my spiritual walk. Jesus speaks about fasting nearly in the same manner as prayer. It is supposed to be a regular part of our Christian life.
Often, we treat it as an optional supplement. Many of us, if we fast, fast only from material items, rarely from food itself as we see demonstrated in the Bible. But disciplining our bodies to seek after God above all else is good for our souls. Fasting re-centers our minds and bodies around this spiritual truth. It is a way of living out practically that we long for God above all else and is a tool we need in our Christian walks.
Pray. Pray written prayers, journal your prayers, whatever it takes to reopen communication. I have recently re-started praying out loud (in actual audible, non-whisper tones) because I think it helps shake me out of my routine and remind me that I am speaking to the Living God who hears my words and cares for me.
Consider praying simply the Lord’s Prayer or the Psalms aloud. Re-train yourself on how to pray using Scripture as your guide.
Your words, they don’t need to be perfect. You did not need eloquence and you certainly don’t need an audience. Because when it is quiet, your audience of One, the One who knows each hair on your head and moment, unrecognized by anyone else, when your heartbeat it first beat and filled your veins with life-sustaining blood, knows you are there.
Prayer isn’t to acquaint God with what’s happening in our lives, it’s to remind yourself that God is desperately involved in each moment of our existence. Remind yourself of that and take time, perhaps every morning before you get out of bed and at the end of each day, to begin a habit of prayer.
Don’t neglect Sunday services.
It is very trendy now to say that the local church doesn’t matter because “all we need is Jesus” but God’s Word tells us that an important part of life in Christ is corporate worship. We need to worship with other believers, not on an island. We need to listen to what God is saying to those charged with our spiritual well-being (our pastors and elders).
Especially when you are struggling spiritually, don’t give up on Sunday mornings but press in all the more (Hebrews 10:25).
Our journey through life as believers is not an easy one. In fact, St. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that he and his fellow believers were pressed to the point that they despaired of life itself but it caused them to rely on God in a new way.
When you are in periods of spiritual stagnancy when you feel stuck in a rut, press into God. Ask Him to reveal Himself anew to you and to strengthen you with His mercy. We are promised that His mercy is new every morning and that He will come to those who call on Him.
In moments of waiting, moments of wondering, let us not grow weary but hold tight to the truths we know and trust in the tools He has given us to build up our faith.