We have all walked through this desert before, when we feel “spiritually dry,” as if we have been confined to an endless desert, and our spiritual lives and faith feel dry and lifeless. Oftentimes, these spiritually parched seasons do not come out of nowhere. Perhaps you have just walked through a hard situation, found yourself living in sin or worshiping half-heartedly, or felt the sting of complacency setting in during your time in God’s Word.
Rather than our thirst and satisfaction being fully quenched, we read the Bible and stare blankly. We ignore it as it gathers on the shelf. We feel emotionless, lacking the excitement and desire to bear fruit for the kingdom (John 15) or live a life worthy of the calling we’ve received (Ephesians 4:1). The fire inside our hearts for the Lord, the Bible, and fellowship with other believers has depreciated into a small, puny flame.
Before we know it, we have sojourned in the desert of spiritual dryness for far too long. We lift our eyes and feel hopeless, seeing nothing but unending sand and suffocating heat. The pressure bears down on us and the weight seems too heavy to bear. Our hearts have been dry for so long that we do not believe we have the strength to crawl out of the desert.
And yet, my dear friend, as real as the spiritually dry seasons of our lives may be, this truth conquers all: Jesus Christ is our Living Water (John 4:14). When he spoke to the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus boldly asserted something that no one had ever done before: that he was the living water that not only satisfied here on earth, but bubbled up into a well that would satisfy for eternity. This was no mere tap water or well water. This wasn’t even the fancy Smartwater® you see in those pretty bottles. This was a soul-quenching, all-satisfying source.
Think about it this way: When someone’s throat is feeling parched after a long hike or trek in the sun, what is the reason? The most obvious answer would be that they are thirsty. The same goes for you and I. We need water. But not just any water that will leave us empty and unsatisfied. No, we need the Living Water himself; the supply that promises to quench our thirst and satisfy us forever. Because Jesus rose again, securing salvation for our souls, we can trust him to be our rescue from the spiritual deserts we encounter. Let’s lean into God’s Word together and consider three ways we can overcome spiritual dryness and be renewed in our faith.
1. Look at the Cross, Not at Yourself
Hebrews 12:2 says we are to look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” When I look back at the times of dryness in my faith, I notice one key element: my selfish and inward posture. As I shuffled through the spiritual desert, my focus and attention was on pitying myself and dwelling on the difficulty of my situations. Admittedly, the selfish focus may have felt good for a moment, but in the end, it only left me feeling more thirsty.
The author of Hebrews shows the Christian a better solution to not only these dry and difficult seasons of life, but every season: looking to Jesus. What he did for us on the cross, where he is seated now, and the hope that he is coming back for us with his Father. You see, the gospel (John 3:16) is our reality. It is where our lives as believers begin. It is what our actions and motivations hinge upon. When we look to the cross, we cannot help but be reminded of the depths of God’s love for us as his ransomed children.
As we come to dry and complacent seasons in our faith, we must push ourselves to remember the facts over our feelings. We must remember to look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We must set our eyes on things above (Colossians 3:2), not earthly things. When we remember that our hope does not lie in this world but in our conquering King, we will look to eternity over the momentary struggles that have caused us to grow dry. When we shift our eyes off ourselves and onto Jesus, we find refreshment. Why? How? Because we are not the living water. We are not the solution in and of ourselves. We were created to have heavenly eyes. And with those heavenly eyes, our Savior will draw us out of the desert and into streams of joy.
Find opportunities to serve others. Put on a humble, “others-focused” heart like Jesus’ example in Philippians 2. Praise and worship God for who he is and dwell on his promises in the Bible. Let the gospel transform your affections and your schedule. As you do, watch it become saturated with service to others and God because your eyes are set on the cross.
2. Pray and Ask God for His Intercession
Oh, dear friend! How often do we forget the power and necessity of prayer? How often do we run to other means before we run to the feet of our Father in prayer? Because of what Jesus did on the cross, he made a way for you and I to have unhindered fellowship with God himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is no need for animal sacrifices or other priests to go to the Lord for us. We have constant, intimate fellowship with the Lord, and one of the most divine avenues to be with him is in prayer.
When our fire for the Lord has begun to fizzle, when our faith is running dry, and when we feel complacent and unmotivated to pursue the Lord, may we never neglect the gift of prayer. The reality in Christ is that we do not have to live life on our own, nor do we have to do it all within our own power or strength. Relying on our own strength to pull ourselves out of the most barren deserts will only leave us spinning our wheels with no progress. The good news is that we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer to be two of our greatest weapons.
You and I serve a God who wants to intercede for us, help us, empower us, convict us, and strengthen us. There are few things he desires more than for his children to be wholly dependent on him. And there is no one greater to be dependent upon and lean on in times of great need. So when you find yourself parched in the desert, cry out to God. Be honest with him about where you are. Tell him your frustrations, your fears, your worries, and your doubts. Let him pull you out of the pit and answer every question with his refreshing streams. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:8) and cast your cares upon him (1 Peter 5:7).
3. Consider Switching Up Your “Bible Study Routine”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that God’s Word is more than useful for so many things, like teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness. Hebrews 4:12 also says that God’s Word is powerful and persuasive, just like a double-edged sword. On and on, the Bible reinforces the necessity, power, and beauty of the Bible. And yet, when we sit back and think about it, when we suffer through dry seasons, we can also see that our time in the Bible has been suffering as well.
Without God’s Word, you and I would be completely lost. We would have no roadmap or guidance for life. When we find the flame of our faith has dwindled, it’s a pretty sure bet that we have also been neglecting to prioritize time in God’s Word. So, it’s time to take action. Like makeup after a good cry session, sometimes our time in God’s Word needs a “refresh,” if you will.
Practically, this may look like adding a new Bible study, commentary, podcast, or some accountability to your Bible time. Now, these beautiful resources are additions and supplements—not replacements for God’s Word. But it has proven so helpful, life-giving, and rejuvenating to change up your routine. Are you feeling as if your Bible time has grown stale? Are you feeling as if all you ever do is stare blankly at the pages without any revelation or excitement? Consider what ways you could change your atmosphere or the structure of your time all in hopes of falling more in love with God’s Word alone.
Resources to Study and Help Quench Your Spiritual Thirst
- Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast
- Daily Grace Co. Podcast
- Passion City DC Church Podcast
- Made for This by Jennie Allen
- Truth Talks with Tara
Commentaries (for deeper Bible Study)
Image Credit: Michael Marcagi
Tara Sun is the founder of Tara Sun Ministries, an online women's ministry that seeks to help others know, love, and live God's word in their own lives. Based in Oregon, Tara has found her God-given purpose in writing, creating podcast episodes, designing and mentoring women. She is a newlywed, married to her high school sweetheart, Michael. They love to hike, spend intentional time with friends, and drink a good cup of coffee.