The first time I ever experienced spiritual dryness was right after my first high school Catholic conference back in 2014 (it was a Steubenville Conference!). It was three days of uninterrupted fun, fellowship, and a lot of prayer, reflection, and reconciliation. It was the perfect Catholic bubble. I didn’t want to leave because what was awaiting me at home was significantly less enjoyable and comforting than this conference at which I praised the Lord.
Did the conference fill me spiritually? It absolutely did. But, at the time, I was not as strong in my Faith as I am today and I didn’t know how to keep my own prayer life up. Nothing truly could have prepared me for the spiritual dryness I felt in the weeks after the conference had come to an end.
What Does Spiritual Dryness Feel Like?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes spiritual dryness as “belonging to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, especially spiritual ones” (CCC 2731).
In my experience, it feels just like that. It’s like walking in the desert looking for nourishment and not being able to find any.
It makes me feel as if I don’t want to pray. It’s almost like I don’t feel God’s presence even though I know—in my heart of hearts—He’s there. It is discouraging, especially when establishing a consistent prayer life just like I was when I first went to the conference.
What to Do When Experiencing Spiritual Dryness
We can all experience spiritual dryness from time to time, even the Saints did! Saint Teresa of Calcutta experienced spiritual dryness for more than 50 years of her life. We all experience it, but what makes the difference is knowing how to overcome it.
Remind yourself why you believe.
During that same conference, I was introduced to my personal remedy for spiritual dryness. There is this song I always listen to whenever I can feel myself slipping back into spiritual dryness, it’s called “Desert Song” by Hillsong Worship. In the song there is a line that says, “I will bring praise, I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain, I will rejoice, I will declare that God is my victory and He is here.”
This song, and specifically this line, helps to bring me back and remind me of who God is, of how good He is, and why I believe in my Faith. God is greater than any spiritual dryness. When I remember that, it starts the process of drawing me out of my spiritual dryness.
Find your personal remedy that can draw you out of a spiritual dryness: maybe this song might also be it for you, or it could be a book, a Bible verse, a selfless act, time in Adoration, or anything that will remind you of what you believe.
Faith vs. feeling.
To put it simply, we cannot solely base our faith on feelings alone, because if we did, a majority of us would not be Catholic today. I’ll be honest, there are many times when I do not “feel” like praying, but I still do it because I value my relationship with God and I want to keep the lines of communication open.
Sometimes we cannot feel Gods’ presence (like Mother Teresa) but that doesn’t mean that He’s not there. If Mother Teresa had based her faith off of when she could and could not feel the presence of Jesus she would not have accomplished all the amazing things she did in this world!
Do not overload your prayer life.
Looking back on my first experience with spiritual dryness I realized that my problem was the fact that I overloaded my prayer life. I tried to incorporate all of praying that I was doing over the three-day weekend (that was a full 3 days of practically uninterrupted prayer time) into my everyday schedule that consisted of a family, a job, and school.
As much as I would have wanted to keep up that life, I would need 48 hours in a day to do so, and that was just not feasible. So the moment that I couldn’t juggle everything in my life plus my newly-found prayer life, I found myself falling into a spiritual dryness.
Make an achievable prayer life, and once you have successfully established that, increase it by including a new way to pray or increase the time you spend in prayer. It’s not about how much prayer you do that matters to God, it’s the quality of the time you spend with Him. Thirty minutes of authentic prayer will be better for your relationship with God than 1 hour of day dreaming with a dash of prayer.
God’s Love Never Runs Dry
The most important thing to remember when it comes to spiritual dryness is the fact that God still loves you! He always has, He always will, and He will never stop. God is always with you when you are praising and praying your heart out at a Catholic conference, and He is with you in the middle of the desert—we can take heart in this fact.
“This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb” (CCC 2731).
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Written by Samantha Cameron. Find out more about her here.