How to Respond to a Spiritually Dry Season
Has your spiritual life suffered during the pandemic? Recent studies (1, 2) show there has been a significant drop in the number of believers who read the Bible daily during the COVID-19 Outbreak. On the other hand, non-believers are searching for God more than ever (3). I believe this shows both the promise and the problems of walking through a wilderness season in your faith.
Have you ever been in a spiritually dry season? You know, those times when your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling instead of making their way to heaven. You do not need a pandemic to experience this. It is something many of us go through at one time or another. Maybe you are in a similar situation now. If so, you are not alone.
Does God Lead Us To The Desert?
God lead the nation of Israel into the wilderness immediately after delivering them from Egypt. The desert was used to transform them from captives to conquerors.
The Spirit also led Jesus into the wilderness immediately after his baptism before his public ministry began.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”Matthew 4:1 ESV
Then there is this verse in Hosea.
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.”– Hosea 2:14 NLT
Here we see God not only leads into the wilderness, but there is also the reward of Intimacy with Him there.
We should be careful not to ask God to take us out of somewhere He has led us into for His purposes. The wilderness seasons of life can cause us to feel alone and overlooked. These are not times when God had forgotten us but are when He has isolated from other things so we can focus on him.
The wilderness can be painful. We just want the desert to end. Here are three things I have learned to pray while in a spiritually dry season.
3 Prayers for the Desert
Ask God to show you what He would like you to learn
…instead of praying for Him to get you out of your circumstances.
I used to pray, “God, get me out!” When things got tough. Now, I know when I want to do this, it is always an alert God is up to something. Sometimes, the lesson is finding peace in waiting or redefining what success looks like. Other times God puts new tools in my hands I didn’t know I needed. It takes time to learn them before I can begin to see the benefits they can bring.
Ask God to draw you closer to Him and make you more like Him
…instead of praying for things to God back to the way they were.
It can appear there is not much good we can take from some seasons of life. Thank God those are so few. But even in the darkest times, we can take away some good. That is because, in everything, God is always bringing us closer to Him and making us more like Him. We need to be open to the process.
Ask God to prepare you for what he wants to give
…instead of asking why He has taken so much away.
Before God can provide us with what He wants us to have, we must be willing to make room by letting go of what we already have. The wilderness is the perfect place for this to happen.
The discomfort of the wilderness is mostly from detoxing even though we may feel like it is from a lack of something want. The desert causes us to lean on God in areas we have we have substituted with other things. The side effects of not having those things meet our needs on a surface level will soon be replaced by the satisfaction of allowing God to do a deeper work in us.
An Oasis in Every Desert
When life gets rough, we can still have some of the most tender moments with God. The intimacy that results from the wilderness is one of the main reasons we can always leave those seasons with gratitude.
There are other results from God leading us into the wilderness that can be found in Hosea as well.
“I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.”Hosea 2:15 NLT
The wilderness is not about God sending harm our way to purify us or make us better. He is not the author of bad news but He can turn our bad news into good news when we put our trust in Him. The wilderness is a season where God intentionally allows our lives to be stripped down in a way that may make us uncomfortable at the moment, but if we press through with our eyes on Him, He will bring us through a transformation we can be thankful for as a result.
What are some lessons you have learned from the wilderness? What tips would you give a friend is you knew they were about to enter a desert season?
This content is an excerpt from my mini-book, The Case for Following Your Heart, and originally appeared on my blog June 2019.