Signs and Symptoms of Spiritual Dryness and What to do About it

Do you feel spiritually dry? Has your passion to read the Bible, pray, and practice spiritual disciplines flatlined? Is it difficult to find joy and motivation in your walk with God? Does life really stink right now?  These are a few signs of spiritual dryness.


Spiritual dryness is a condition every Christian can face, including those leading on the frontlines of ministry. The good news is that you can take steps to reengage, recharge, and find refreshment. Below are five things that can lead to dry times followed by five things that can help you recharge.


Five Causes of Spiritual Dryness.


1. A Career over Soul Imbalance.


Your ministry, work, or leadership must not become more important than the care of your soul. Many pastors fall into this type of imbalance. After all, pastors and leaders are working to serve God and others. Sounds righteous. What could go wrong?


When the advancement of our ministry platform becomes our first priority we are engaging in idolatry.


God has called you to follow Him; this is the first and most important thing in life. Jesus’ call to his disciples started with this simple request “follow me” not “work for me.”


When we replace “following Jesus” with “working for Jesus” we will eventually get weary and dry.


2. The Availability Trap.


A wise person once said, “If you are available for everyone, you will be no good to anyone.”


Many people wrongly think they must available all of the time. They will respond instantaneously to every call, meeting, request, and crisis. They are quick to adjust their schedules to accommodate whatever is asked of them.


The modern age of text messages and email has conditioned people to expect rapid responses. However, constantly adjusting your life to every request or demand is not an option or a healthy response.


3. Seven Day Workweek.


Work in ministry never stops. Sometimes we convince ourselves that if we work a little more, or work a little harder, we will eventually be able to slow down. Sadly, that day of rest never comes.


Ministry fills the place you give it. Reasons to work every day are abundant. After all, there is so much to do. There is always a sermon to prepare, a call to make, and a meeting to schedule.


If you work at a non-stop pace you will find yourself at a dead-end. Why? From the beginning God intended that his people would have a day off. A day with no work. No business. No pressing demands.


Working all of the time leads to spiritual dryness. A lack of rest is physically, mentally, emotionally exhausting. God never intended you to work all of your waking hours. You must have a day off.


4. Prolonged Conflict (without Boundaries).


Pastors who find themselves in significant conflicts are vulnerable to spiritual dryness. The reason is simple. Working through a prolonged conflict demands time, attention, and energy. Without proper rest and boundaries to navigate conflict, we can be drained of our vitality and energy.


Conflict is especially difficult when we bear the burden alone. Even Moses needed help when God’s people were fighting a battle. You cannot take on the weight of conflict alone.


Sometimes conflicts are necessary (and even healthy). However, we cannot allow a conflict to consume us or load us down with unnecessary weight. The weight of prolonged conflict will dry your soul out like a piece of old beef jerky.


5. Too Many Side Hustles.

We live in a culture that tries to define who we are by what we do. The more successful we look the better many of us feel. This type of thinking is dangerous. We never say ‘no’ for fear of missing out. We become overextended, hurried, burdened, and yes, dry.


Many pastors fall into the trap of saying yes to everything. They say ‘yes’ to every meeting, request, and invitation. They soon find themselves busy all of the time. Family time starts to suffer and their walk with God becomes another ‘important thing’ on a long list of important things.    


When we say “yes” to everything we get overloaded, drained, and depleted. A wise man once told me “You have to say ‘no’ to good things so that you can say ‘yes’ to the best things.”


6 Steps to Start Recovery from Spiritual Dryness.


1. Turn Everything Off.


If you are spiritually dry, start by taking a break from technology. It is easy to feel run down when you are always connected to a screen. These same tools that promise to make life easier and more productive can also drain us.


Schedule a day, afternoon, or evening when you are not using devices or connected to a screen. Setting your phone in another room when you pray, read scripture, or spend time with family is a great way to get started.


Phones. Laptops. Emails. Text messages. News. Social Media feeds. All of these things have their place. However, it is dangerous to use these tools without some type of boundaries.


2. Start Counting what Matters.


Thankfulness and gratitude can have powerful effects on our lives. Giving thanks reorients our hearts and minds toward God in a unique way. Many Scriptures emphasize the importance of this task.


There are many benefits to thanking God. First, intentional thanksgiving helps us recognize God’s grace in ways we might overlook. Second, it directs our attention to God and his grace, instead of worries and problems. A grateful heart is a happy heart.


Spending time daily giving thanks to God is sure to enrich your walk with God. Set a goal for your day or week. Be bold. Go beyond the number you think is appropriate. There are more things to thank God for than we can imagine.


3. Enjoy a Common Grace.


What do you really enjoy? Can you do that thing for the Glory of God?


God created a good world filled with all types of things for us to enjoy. Yes, our world is really messed up by sin. However, there are still plenty of things we can enjoy now.


Why not celebrate a common grace and thank God for every moment of it? For me, this involves buying, cooking, and eating something awesome. A ribeye steak is a good option. What in the world does BBQ have to do with my spiritual health? More than many realize. My time spent enjoying a common grace and serving my family with a meal is time well spent.


Common graces are a great way to be thankful, joyful, and remember the love and care of our heavenly father.  Grilling meat is a favorite common grace. A beautiful sunset, a peaceful walk, or a really good cup of coffee aren’t bad either.


4. Find Fresh Food for your Soul. 


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. A time of spiritual dryness is a great time to change things up and seek out fresh spiritual food. Ask for God’s direction on your spiritual journey as you look for new ways to feed your soul with truth. Consider starting a new Bible study, reading plan, or book.


Practicing new or neglected spiritual disciplines are a great way to reorient your life toward God. Spending time in silence and solitude is a neglected yet important discipline for every spiritual leader. An extended time of fasting or prayer can provide new food to nourish the weary soul.


Energy and health are maintained by taking in the right foods; this is true Spiritually as well.  Don’t neglect your spiritual diet; this is critical. Find the nourishment that will feed your soul and fire up your faith.


5. Meeting on the Mountain.


The Bible is filled with people who had significant encounters with God when they were in remote or secluded places. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, and the Disciples all spent chunks of time in the wilderness or in the mountains. During these times, they often encountered God in ways that changed the course of their lives.


There are many benefits to planning a spiritual retreat and spending time outside of your normal pattern. We often more clearly hear from God when distractions are removed, obligations are released, and other voices are silent.


Are you willing to interrupt your schedule and life to meet with God? I hope so. A person can have an encounter with God anywhere. However, you can meet with God in new ways when you are willing to interrupt your life.


6. Remember God’s Love for You.

Thinking about the love God has for us can always revive a dry heart. Dwell on it. Dive into it. Plumb the depths of it! When we think about the awesome love with which he loves us, we can’t help but be revived. Knowing that God knows us best (more intimately than we know ourselves) and yet he chooses to love us regardless of our performance, is an amazing thing!


Spiritual dryness is a condition we can all experience. The key is to recognize God does not desire for his children to remain dried out and depleted. He provides living water that can satisfy the driest heart. The question is whether we will stop, turn to meet him, and drink freely.