“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
How does it happen? How do I consistently dedicate daily time with God – for months – YEARS – and then just . . . stop?
I don’t understand it.
But I do. The Bible is full of stories about people forgetting God. Elijah experienced discouragement. So did David. Story after story. My faith is no stronger than theirs.
It seems like it was a “single moment” kinda stop. I think. I’m not sure. Maybe it was gradual. I need clues. My prayer journal is my historical record. When did it happen? Working backwards, I see near daily journal entries for April, and for March 31st. The last entry before that? March 23. I didn’t write in my prayer journal for 7 days. That represents a week without dedicated time with God.
The March 31st entry begins with:
“Lord, I miss my time with you. It’s so easy to get distracted and allow my time and thoughts to be pre-occupied by what I believe to be the “demands” of the day.”
Please draw me back to you. Remind me till I see.“
Then I read the words that reveal I was smack in the middle of a spiritual desert on March 31st:
“Please bless me with an overwhelming awareness of your presence in my life, not in an abstract, general way, but in an intimate, detailed way. Help me to be aware – to STAY aware of you. Please don’t let me find myself going through the motions, doing what comes “next” without considering whether it should be done at all.
Please reach into my heart, past all the barriers and bring me back into intimate fellowship with you . . . Lord I miss the joy and peace I experience when I’m in close fellowship with you. I miss the recognition of you working in my life . . . Please encourage me today, please jolt me into a place of desperate desire for time with you, for the saturation of your Spirit in my every moment.“
The next day, April 1st, I took my first step back. I’m still finding my way, so I’m not ready to explore that part of my journey quite yet. I’m looking for a trigger. Wondering what I need to address before I can get completely clear of this desert. How did I get here?
Realistic or not, I’m also trying to avoid the next desert trip. I’m compelled to try and figure out what to do differently next time. Because I’m not so arrogant as to claim there won’t be a next time. I’ve still got one foot buried in the sand as it is.
What was I praying about in the days before I took a nose dive into a spiritual abyss? Or, as evidenced by the gaps in my prayer journal, what was I NOT praying about?
I have no idea if I’m going to be able to track back to a trigger. I’ve got some journal reading to do. I’m starting with March 23rd and working my way backwards.
Prayer in distress dredges the soul. It is a good thing to keep a note
of the things you prayed about when you were in distress. We remain ignorant
of ourselves because we do not keep a spiritual autobiography.
Oswald Chambers: The Best from All His Books