In Times of Spiritual Dryness

spiritual_drynessAll of us go through times of spiritual drought and dryness. When I was a college student, I encountered this for the first time and it concerned me greatly. I was helped by reading a little book called The Green Letters by Miles Stanford. The title has been changed now to Principles of Spiritual Growth. It is online at:http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/goodnews/growth.html

One quote from this book that helped me immensely is found in chapter 2 on the subject of Time. Graham Scroggie, a preacher who is now with Jesus, writes:

“Spiritual renewal is a gradual process. All growth is progressive, and the finer the organism, the longer the process. It is from measure to measure: thirtyfold, sixtyfold, an hundredfold. It is from stage to stage: ‘first the blade, then the ear, and after that, the full corn in the ear.’ And it is from day to day. How varied these are!There are great days, days of decisive battles, days of crises in spiritual history, days of triumph in Christian service, days of the right hand of God upon us. But there are also idle days, days apparently useless, when even prayer and holy service seem a burden. Are we, in any sense, renewed in these days? Yes, for any experience which makes us more aware of our need of God must contribute to spiritual progress, unless we deny the Lord who bought us.”

Thus, real spiritual progress and development can and oftentimes takes place even through the dry and hard times.Here is a strategy that I would recommend to you. It is called the garland method of prayer. I can explain later why it is called that.  I would limit my Bible reading to the book of Psalms. The link at the end of this paragraph contains a monthly cycle of readings through the book of Psalms. Here’s the link to a monthly guide through the Psalms: http://www.bibleplan.org/ps/esv/

You can actually have them send you the particular day’s reading to your email address. For example, on the 23rd day of the month, the reading is Psalm 113-118. You can read this selection in its entirety, but you don’t have to read all of it. It obviously depends on your time constraints. You might only have time to read one of the Psalms like Psalm 118. You might just focus on one verse of Psalm 118. Or, you could focus on a few verses like verses 5-9:

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

What do I see in this text for which I can praise the Lord? Just jot down in your journal a couple of things that you learn about God. You don’t have to be exhaustive. Just a couple of things. It can honestly be one thing. I can trust the Lord because He hears and answered prayer. He is a God who is for me. I can trust Him because He is my helper and my refuge especially in times of conflict.

Then, what are the sinful thoughts, actions, and attitudes that result in me when I forget this about the Lord? I become distressed. I become fearful. I become enslaved to the approval of others. I trust in other people rather than the Lord.

Thirdly, how does this text point me to Jesus Christ – his person, work and/or teachings? For example, how is it that Jesus looked in triumph over those who hated him? How is it that we can even call on the name of the Lord? We can approach the Lord in prayer only because we have a perfect high priest who interceded for us with his precious blood. Then, I stop and begin to thank Jesus for his triumphal resurrection… that he died to pay the penalty for all of my sins of people pleasing, fear and doubt.

Lastly, I ask myself: How would I live differently if the truths of this text were more real in my life? Just ask the Lord to show you one or two points of application here. For example, when I am in personal distress and difficulty, I will resolve to seek the Lord’s counsel first before reaching out for the counsel of any significant others in my life.

Then, having written down a thought or two for each question. I would quickly turn these thoughts into prayers to the Lord. You can do this in five minutes. You can do this in an hour. Be flexible.

Having the monthly guide above from the bibleplan website will give you some structure. Why not try it for the several months and, if you miss a day, just go to the next day’s reading because that particular reading will be coming around again in a month.

By the way, if you ever have to lead a Bible Study and if you don’t have much time to prepare, just read the passage as a group and walk through the four questions above. You’ll find yourself eventually in the midst of a spiritual downpour instead of a time of spiritual drought.

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