This article was originally published in Edition (3) of Prayer Magazine, Summer 2005.

Surviving Dry Times – by Kevin Sambrook

As busy pastors, my wife and I know the demands of a hectic lifestyle. My wife and I travel a lot. We take teams out from our nation to other countries. We host conferences. We receive teams from other nations into our own. We have the privilege and responsibility of overseeing a local church. And yet in all of this activity for God, there are times when we feel dry. It may be that we have neglected our relationship with Him in order to pursue our service for Him. At other times it may be because of the accumulation of the hurts and disappointments we experience along the way. At such times it is essential that we stop and press the pause button.

One of my favourite Psalms is Psalm 63. Listen to the first verse :

Ps 63 v 1

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water (NKJV)

These verses were penned by King David when he fled from Absolom his son. Imagine the pain of betrayal and the devastation of being deposed. Here the inner turmoil and emotional pain would have been enormous:

2 Samuel 15v23

The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the desert. (NIV)

There are many times when God’s people seem to experience a spiritual desert, whether they believe that they have been driven there by others or suddenly find themselves there without really knowing how. Either way, the result is the same, a spiritual famine or dehydration. This can affect our prayer life.

How do we survive such times and what can we do?

Firstly, we must not confuse faith with feelings. Too many Christians live their lives from their feelings or emotions. When the good feelings disappear, there is a void and we begin to wonder ’is God really there’? We must not fall in that trap. Paul said, ‘for we walk by faith, not by sight’ (2Cor 5:7). Our relationship with God must become cemented in our knowledge of Him rather than any emotional experience.

The grace and peace that comes from God flows through our knowledge of Him:

2 Peter 1v2

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (NIV)

So, what can we know about God when we enter into dry times? Well, we must remember the words of God Himself:

Heb 13 v 5

For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (NKJV).

Matt 28 v 20

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (NIV)

It is here that we must ‘walk by faith, not by sight.’

God remains closer than our own heartbeat and more life-giving than the air we breathe. It is simply that we have allowed our fickle emotions to obscure the Almighty from our site.

Secondly, we should also know that all dry seasons will pass away. As pilgrims, we are always on the move and passing through:

Ps 84 v 6-7

As they pass through the Valley of Baca, (weeping) they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (NIV)

David walked through the valley of the shadow of death. God’s people passed through the waters and passed through the fire (Isaiah 43 v 2). In both instances God was with them.

The thing about ‘passing through’ is that we always take another step, we never give up! Often, in times of dryness, I have cried to God “Lord, revive me, I’m dry. Give me a hunger for Your Word again. Give me a thirst for Your presence once more!” Without fail, in His grace, He has answered me. Time and time again the words of the following Psalm have proved true:

Ps 85 v 6

Will you not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? (NKJV).

Lastly, we must learn to pause in the midst of life and be still, especially in dry seasons, and let all inner activity subside. Much of our trouble stems from never really taking the time to be still. In our constant ‘doing’ we neglect to simply ‘be in His presence’. We have lost the art of being still and knowing He is God. Recently, at one of our leadership training nights at church, I asked those attending to simply sit in silence for half an hour in God’s presence. Leaving the hubbub and distractions behind, the results were remarkable. Without exception, all had an encounter with God in the silence. Without realising it, they had drunk from the ‘brook by the way’. All felt refreshed and rejuvenated. Some testified that before sitting in silence, they had been weary and dry. All of us need to take time to be still and silent before Him, doing nothing, saying nothing, just sitting in His presence. This too, is prayer. This is life!

Ps 87 v 7

‘All my springs are in you’ (RSV)

 Kevin Sambrook

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