When your faith feels stale…

By: James Dwyer, Relevant Magazine

We’ve all been there.

It’s been a while since you’ve had a “spiritual high,” but you aren’t running from God either. You attend church every week, you go to small group, maybe you even read your Bible regularly, but it’s started to feel more like a routine than like worship. God feels more like a distant concept than someone you’re in relationship with.

One of the most beautiful—and equally frustrating—aspects of the Christian life is the ebb and flow of the seasons we go through. While we love to (and should) soak in the goodness of God while we are in a healthy place, we cry out in anger and frustration when God seems far away. Our communities are full of people in different seasons—and that is one of the most attractive aspects of the church.

The most difficult season, and the one which so many Christians seem to battle through, is the dry season—the winter months. When our faith not only feels distant but dead. When no matter what we do, we find it impossible to connect with God in a meaningful, tangible way.
It can feel as if we’re all alone, as if we are going through something no one has gone through before. The advice—to pray more, to press into God, to spend more time in His presence—is well-intentioned and good, but it risks creating more harm than benefits.
When we feel like God is distant, the advice to simply pray more does not help. We think: How do I pray, how do I cry out, to a God who isn’t near, who cannot hear me, who doesn’t want anything to do with me?

Yet often it seems that in those times, in those seasons of doubt and pain, we can find God and respond to Him in a more powerful way than ever before.
By returning to the basics of our faith, the fundamentals of what we believe, we open ourselves up to a fresh revelation from God—a new glimpse of His glory and majesty. Here are five ways we can open our hearts and minds to God in the times our faith feels stale:

Pray God’s Word back to Him.

When we feel like everything we know about God has disappeared and left us, it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to prayer. The simple act of praying God’s Word back to Him can put us back in that place of prayer, surround us with the truth and promises of who He is and His love for us.

The Bible is full of truth and comfort for the darkest of seasons, so turning what we read back to God can lead us back to Him. The Psalms, in particular, are a powerful place to start. Choose a Psalm to pray back to God, pray the words as your own and wait for His voice.

Don’t stop worshiping.

When God feels far away and things feel difficult, it can be easy to let the passion of our worship slip.

This isn’t about how many times we raise our hands during a set, but about where our worship stems from. When we stop worshiping from the heart, we cease to give God the glory and honor He deserves and our darkest nights only get darker.

One of the most powerful ways of combating our despair is to continue to worship and proclaim God’s name and his power despite what season we may be in.

Stay plugged into your community.

It’s easy to feel unworthy when God feels distant. We can feel judged and ashamed about our lack of relationship with God, which makes us not want to share how we feel.

But the truth is we are not alone, and it is more than likely someone else in your close community is going through something similar, or has been recently. No matter how hard it seems, keep connected with that community. And more importantly, be honest with them and share your situation with them. The support of your community is invaluable through all seasons—no more so than when God feels a million miles away.

Remember your worth.

Remembering your worth in God’s eyes, your value to Him, can be life-changing. No matter how far away God feels, clinging to the truth and promise of His love for us, as His children, is vital. Whether that’s through God’s Word, through prayer or through the encouragements of others around you, staking your claim as a child of God not only pushes the enemy back, but takes you closer to God.

Look out for God working in ways you aren’t expecting.

God doesn’t always work in the ways we want Him to, but He does always work. When we find ourselves feeling desperate for Him in a dry season, we can miss His hand working in our lives. We become so focused on expecting Him to move in a specific way that we miss the small, daily ways He comes through for us.

Keeping our eyes—both spiritual and physical—open allows us to see Him move in a tapestry of ways.

As with all things in the Christian journey, there is no one formula to solve all our problems. But by staying faithful and focused on God, by seeking His presence and by continuing to seek Him in our pain, we recognize our worth in His eyes and our place in His Kingdom.

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Catherine is a 20-something BS Nutrition student of the University of the Philippines, but her heart screams for the art. She is a freelance creative and model, an artist and a writer, and an advocate of human rights and the environment.

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