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Spiritual Dryness: The Joy of Spiritual Disciplines

Imagine if a friend comes to you and asks for some advice about their marriage. The friend tells you that their marriage feels lifeless. There is no connection. Their spouse feels distant. Both of them have been very busy. The both of them have been busy with work and taking care of the kids and all sorts of other activities. The two of them just see each other briefly at night and in the morning.

What would you advise them?

To a certain extent it wouldn’t surprise us that the couple feels distant from each other. They’re too busy to talk to each other. Perhaps you would advise them to take some time and talk with each other. Maybe they should go on a date or on a vacation. There’s urgency to this as well. If this is not taken care of, the cost can be the marriage.

Our relationship with Christ is similar. As a pastor, sometimes believers come to me and express that they don’t know what’s going on. Something seems off. God seems far or irrelevant. Sometimes the issue is that they have been neglecting their spiritual health. They have lost their connection with God. They are spiritually dry and they don’t even know it. Somehow their spirituality has lost its energy and joy.It feels as if a person is spiritually sapped of energy. Church feels more like an obligation than a joy. It is more a responsibility than a source of life.

One possible reason for this spiritual dryness is that there is the awe of God has been forgotten. The believer is spiritually disconnected from God. There is no communication. A person could just be living life, but living life without God. They are disconnected with the source of life.

What are spiritual disciplines?

Spiritual disciplines are activities and practices that connect our hearts with God. For over two thousand years, Christians have done various practices to maintain our connection with our Savior. These are worship practices that we should do daily, like eating. Generally speaking, spiritual disciplines can be broken down into four groups, prayer, meditation, community, and mission.

Prayer involves not just telling God what you want or need, but also involves praising Him, praying for others, giving God thanks. It is a time of repentance where we remind ourselves of our need for the gospel.

Christian meditation is different than many Eastern religions. Most Eastern religions focus on emptying the mind of things and removing ourselves from our desires. Christian mediation involves thinking about and trying to understand God’s Word. It involves reading, thinking and applying Scripture in our lives. It is also not eliminating our desires, but refocusing our desires on God’s desires. It reminds us of the gospel through the words of Scripture.

Community is an important part of spiritual disciplines because it keeps us from a self-focused and self-centered faith. God brings us into right relationship with him, and in turn in a right relationship with one another. We are able to practice the gospel in community and remind one another of Christ’s work in our lives.Coming and participating in church life is essential to a healthy spiritual life.

Lastly, considering our mission in the world and how we are to be God’s representatives is a part of learning how to be dependent on Christ. We are called to take the gospel into the world. We are not to be cloistered into our own worlds for our comfort but to bring the message of God’s forgiveness to all peoples. When we express what we learn, we deepen its impression.

Why do we have difficulty in doing spiritual disciplines?

Some believers don’t know that these disciplines are available for them. These are a wealth of untapped resources. But another problem is also how a person sees spiritual disciplines.To be honest many I talk with often think of spiritual disciplines in the same way they see piano lessons. I have to practice because the piano teacher is coming and I’d better get ready. But imagine if a student really enjoys playing the piano and can’t get enough of it.

What if spiritual disciplines were like dates that you go on with a person you love? What if it was a time when you drew near to the one you love? What if our disciplines were seen as a way that we are reminded of God’s love or a reminder of the Good News? Then perhaps it would be something that would remind us of God’s amazing grace. It would renew and refresh us.

Jesus himself reminds us in John 15 that “I am the vine, and you are the branches”. We need to stay connected to him in order to have life. May you be refreshed this week and may God strengthen you with His power to pursue Him more.