12 Ways to Respond in a Spiritual Rut

I wrote yesterday about signs to see if you’re in currently in a spiritual rut. Today, here are some options for getting out of the rut:

  1. Make a list of God’s blessings in your life. Even 15 minutes of “blessing listing” can begin to turn your heart back toward God.
  2. Get a prayer partner who will pray with you each day for two weeks. The accountability will help you, and the ongoing practice will remind you of the power of prayer.
  3. Speak the truth of your heart to God. Don’t be afraid to be honest with God. He knows you’re in the rut, and He will respond to your cries.
  4. Confess your sin to someone. I don’t believe confession to another person is necessary for forgiveness, but there’s strength in being honest with someone who’s looking you in the eye. 
  5. Stay involved in—or get involved in—small groups and worship. I doubt you’ll get out of a rut on your own. Small groups give you fellowship, and worship gives you focus.  
  6. Slow your Bible reading enough to record insights you gain each day. That might mean you read less, but you consider the text more deeply. Quantity of reading will come when the quality of your reading increases.
  7. Fast for at least one meal each of the next two weeks. Instead of eating, use that time to read the Word and pray. Meditate on God’s majesty and goodness rather than on food. 
  8. Make yourself minister to someone less fortunate than you. Doing something like serving the poor, ministering to the sick, visiting the lonely, and evangelizing the lost because that’s what Jesus expects us to do can get your eyes off the rut.
  9. Use an app to memorize at least one scripture each week. You’ll find joy in this accomplishment, and the Word will grab your heart. My students at Southeastern Seminary often use Fighter Verses or Scripture Typer.
  10. Ask your pastor and friends to recommend a book to help you focus on God again. If you’re not a reader, look for an audio book. I often turn to J.I. Packer’s Knowing God.
  11. Exercise regularly and eat well. Sometimes, just taking care of ourselves better can lead to spiritual renewal.
  12. Sing more. Don’t worry about who hears you – just sing God’s praises. I’m sure my neighbors have looked at me when I’m working outside and singing aloud with the praise choruses in my AirPods.

What steps have you used to get out of a spiritual rut?  





  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Here are some things that have worked for me. 1. Go for a long walk in a quiet, wooded area and unburden your heart to God. Talk with God as you would with a trusted friend. I find it much easier to pray when I am walking. It is like taking a walk with a friend and talking with him as I walk. I may pause as friends pause to talk when they are walking together and then continue walking. Just as I might point out a wildflower or a bird to a friend, I point a wildflower or bird to God and thank him for what he created. I picked up the idea of taking walks with God from Jesus’ conversations with his disciples as they walked the dusty roads of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea and The Practice of the Presence of God, a book of the collected teachings of Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Carmelite monk. God also talked with Adam as he walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day. One might describe this kind of prayer as peripatetic prayer. 2. Follow Jesus’ example, seek quiet and solitude, and pray. The setting is important. Settings that I have found conducive to prayer are an empty chapel, a quiet garden, the bank of a river, stream, or lake, or a lonely stretch of seashore. 3. Read the Bible aloud and meditatively–a few verses at a time–, reflect on what you read and heard, and then pray. Reading aloud will slow the pace at which you are reading. You will not only be reading the Word, you will also be hearing it. The early monks always read the Bible aloud even when they were reading the Bible just to themselves. In that way they would hear the Word and in hearing it, strengthen their faith. 4. Meditate on a verse of Scripture. Look at it as one would look at a precious jewel, holding it up to the light and turning it so each facet caught the light. Turn the verse in your mind in the same. Consider its implications for you and for others. Share your thoughts with God along with any feelings that your thoughts stir up. The last two practices are similar to two of the steps in the practice of Lectio Divina which treats the Bible as a meeting place with God. 5. The Puritan divine William Perkins urged those whom he was instructing and mentoring to “pray continually” through “secret and inward ejaculations of the heart.” The kind of prayer that he was encouraging them to use is known as ejaculatory prayer or aspiration. Another term for these “ejaculations of the heart” is “arrow prayers.” They are brief prayers that our hearts direct to God like arrows shot from a bow. God or circumstances may bring a concern or need to mind and we respond immediately with an arrow prayer. They are a part of practicing the presence of God, of being always mindful that we are in his presence. 6. Praising God with songs that we know by heart. Over the years I have acquired a repertoire of what we called “celebration songs” in the 1980s–simple hymns and songs that, when you sing them, stick in your mind, hymns and songs of adoration and praise. I may sing one hymn or song or several in sequence. I may end up singing in my own words to a tune that just comes to me on the spur of the moment and which I usually never remember, praising and adoring God. I may sing with uplifted hands and pour my heart into the song. These are just a few of things that have helped lift me out of the spiritual doldrums.

  • Thanks, Robin, for these great ideas.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    I would add that we all go through periods of spiritual dryness. Being a disciple of Jesus has its low points as well as its high points. One mistake new believers make is to expecting following Jesus to be one continuous spiritual high. During periods of spiritual dryness it is important to remember that God is present with us. While we may feel abandoned, God has not gone away. While the devil may whisper in our ear that God has deserted us, God is still with us. Sometimes we experience spiritual dryness because we have unconfessed sins in our lives, perhaps besetting sins we are hanging onto and in clinging to these sins, we may be quenching the Holy Spirit. Self-examination, confession, and repentance may be the first step that we need to take to get out of the spiritual rut. I am not talking about endless introspection and self-flagellation but a genuine turning away from sin and back to God. I would also add that we ultimately cannot get out of a spiritual rut by our own efforts. We will need God’s grace. Having confessed to God any sins that may be coming between us and God and made a serious commitment to turn away from them, we need to pray for a fresh outpouring of God’s grace upon ourselves and our lives. The ordination service for pastors in the classical Anglican Book of Common Prayer advises candidates for ordination to daily pray for God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit. It is good advice for all of us.

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