There will come a time in the life of every believer when God is silent. Notice I didn’t say “when it seems God is silent,” though we might be more comfortable with that. It’s easier to blame ourselves than to point fingers at the Creator of the Universe. But the Bible is full of instances when people cried out to God with no answer (Psalm 22:2, 13, 77, and 88, just to name a few).
The truth is, times of spiritual dryness actually mean that God is paying attention to us – specifically working in us to help us grow and become more like Christ. You can read more explanation here about what’s actually happening during these times. But this post is about what you can do if you find yourself alone in the silence.
1. Pay attention to what God said to you before. The Bible is his words and they’re unchanging. Take time to review verses that connected with you before. And remind God of his promises. I call them “You Said” prayers, as in, “You Said you would never leave me or forsake me.” “You Said seek and I’ll find.”
2. Seek wise counsel. Don’t try to get through these difficult times alone. But you do have to be careful about who you choose to confide in. It’s possible for well-meaning friends to comment on your spiritual situation in a way that’s unintentionally hurtful. (Think Job’s famous friends.) Find a spiritually mature friend, advisor, or pastor who can encourage and pray with you through this season.
3. Try to discern what you need to learn. Where are you most uncomfortable or stressed? God may be trying to grow you in very specific areas of your life. Things like bitterness, a bad temper, impatience, guilt, or control might rise to the surface. When I was in this season, there were two long weeks when every time I had a mental complaint my very next thought was “that’s because you’re selfish.” Pray about relinquishing whatever that is to Him.
4. Rather than focus on what to do, focus on who to be. It may involve spending time on the quality from #3 above. And your temptation will be to do things like get busy and read the Bible more, buy and read books on this subject (that one might be just me), physically get on your knees to pray, and put worship music on auto repeat 24/7. None of these things are wrong, but be cautious about making noise just to fill the silence.
5. Check out a spiritual formation lecture. If you want to further study how and why God is working during this time, Biola University offers some lectures on spiritual formation online for free. Their Institute for Spiritual Formation is world class.