When You Feel Spiritually Dry

Are there times when these two words describe you?DryCreekbed.jpg

Spiritually dry.

I suspect that most of us experience this at various times.

There is a creek that runs along the edge of our property line. Much of the time, there is water in this creek. However, during the hot Texas summer, the creek will often dry up. In fact, it will be so dry that the creek bed cracks due to the lack of rain and intense heat of the blazing sun.

There may be times when your soul feels parched and depleted.

There are often a number of factors that may be at work to create this sense of dryness. In addressing this, however, it is important to begin with your own heart.

Remember the story of Samson (Judges 16)? Part of his vow to God was not to cut his hair. However, the Philistine woman, Delilah, wore him down and he finally told her the secret of his strength. In the middle of the night when he was asleep, she cut his hair. As a result, he lost his strength. He ignored his covenant with God (symbolized by the vow he made regarding his hair) and lost his strength.

Whenever I experience a period of dryness, I need to ask at some point, “Have I ignored my covenant with God?” Of course, this is not always true. However, maybe one place to begin is with my own repentance. Unfortunately, this is the last possibility some people consider.

Darryl Tippens, in his fine book Pilgrim Heart, writes:

Our inability to confess our obvious and hidden failures greatly damages our spiritual lives and our credibility. Our witness rings hollow. Our carefully packaged faith that hides faults haunts us and angers others. When things go awry, as they will, it becomes second nature to blame others rather than take responsibility. Thus, Christians can reside in communities where the truth is rarely spoken and where disappointment, bitterness, cynicism, and anger simmer for years. Finally the day comes when the frustration explodes. Nearly everyone is surprised at the intensity of the blow-up. What happened and why?

Often the explosion is the inevitable consequence of Christians not telling the truth of their lives – hurts over their troubled marriages, the disappointment with parents and children, their sadness and anger over harsh and unfair words spoken at church, the chronic pain of a dysfunctional relationship at work. Mark it down. A Christian who is not confessional is in peril – a danger to himself and to the community (p. 100).

Perhaps during a season of dryness, when my heart feels parched and cracked, I ought to consider the possibility of my need for confession and repentance. Maybe, like Samson, I have not been attentive to the covenant relationship I have with God. Perhaps I have allowed myself to become worn down by the nagging temptations of the evil one.

Sometimes, confessing my sin and neglect may be the first step toward freshness and life again.


What have you found helpful during periods of dryness?

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  • Connie Lard

    What a great post for Ash Wednesday! When I find myself feeling parched and dry it is often due to my own neglect of the habits I need to keep in place to keep my spiritual life healthy. One might think that, by this stage of my life, these habits would be so ingrained that this would not be a problem. I should be better than I am by now. Mercifully, the avenues of confession and repentance are ever open even to someone like me, and I always find a God who is just glad to have me back where I belong.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks Connie. I really like your point regarding neglecting the kind of habits that can keep a person nourished and strengthened. What you are saying is very important.

  • Linda Malia

    I would recommend a little book by Thomas H. Green, S.J., When the Well Runs Dry – Prayer Beyond Beginnings(Ave Maria Press, Inc.; Revised edition, 1979). It deals, from the perspective of Ignatian spirituality, with the question of what we do when we find that our prayer life isn’t as gratifying as it previously was, and we’re tempted to abandon it out of frustration. The message is this: it may be that at such times our faith is beginning to going through a necessary stage of development, when we are not going to enjoy instant gratification in our spiritual life, and if we can just persevere and remain faithful through these parched times, we are likely to emerge from the experience with a faith that is stronger and more mature.

    • Jim Martin

      Linda, thanks so much for this resource. I am making a note of this book. Sounds like it could be very helpful. Good point that he is making in this book. In fact, there are a variety of reasons as to why a person might experience spiritual dryness. Thanks so much for this.

  • Adam

    sometimes we feel dry because maybe the good LORD is trying to teach us that we do not walk by sight, by might, by sound, by the dry ground, neither by feelings. It is at that time when we keep walking, we learn that even though we may not feel him, we know he is there and will never leave or forsake us. It is easy to say “I trust in GOD”. It is harder to do. If I have never felt his presence, then did I really know him or more importantly, does he know me?