We often meet with those who complain of dryness and deadness in their
worship. They are very unlike the Psalmist's picture of the "blessed man."
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth
forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither." This is a
true picture of the Christian life. The soul should be as a watered
garden--fresh and green and sparkling. It should be a springtime. You have
seen a garden in the spring or one that is well-watered. All is beauty,
freshness, and vigor. Such a garden is used by the prophet to symbolize
the Spirit-filled soul. He says, "And the Lord shall guide thee
continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and
thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose
waters fail not." Isa. 58:11.
In order to have such a happy experience, however, the children of God
must meet certain conditions. The context says, "If thou draw out thy soul
to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul." If our souls are not drawn
out in pity for the hungry and we fail to do what we can to relieve them,
we need not expect anything other than a spiritual drought in our own
Spiritual dryness is sometimes the result of attachment to the world. "Set
your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth." Unless
we live by the Bible, we can not be spiritual. A little affection for the
things of earth robs the soul of spiritual life. In this matter Satan is
an excellent reasoner. He will suggest that your desires are only for the
glory of God; that you have no affection for the worldly object, but
desire it only for God's glory. A young lady to whom I gave warning said
that her desires were pure and that she had no affection for the object,
but sought only to please the Lord. Very soon, however, she came to the
realization that her soul was a desert place, and all because she had
believed the falsehood of Satan. Beware how you desire earthly things for
God's glory. Underneath may be a desire for self-gratification, ease, or
luxury. If you are troubled by a lack of sensible devotion in worship,
examine your affections. Possibly you may find some tiny roots twining
around something of this world.
Spiritual dryness may be the result of sloth. "Slothfulness casteth into a
deep sleep." Prov. 19:15. Spiritual idleness soon results in spiritual
dryness. That sophism of Satan's, "No time for prayer," is very dangerous.
Any neglect of spiritual devotion must result in lukewarmness. Oh, how
unreasonable is man and how easily the desires of the flesh deceive! If
you neglected to water your garden, you would not wonder for a moment why
it was drying up. Then, when you are neglecting to water the soul in
vigorous, spiritual exercises, why do you wonder at your being so
spiritually dull? "Awake, thou that sleepest!" Up and away to the hill of
the Lord. Be the frequent witness of a sunrise scene from the mount of
The San Jose scale works imperceptibly at first. Oftentimes its presence
will be detected only by the experienced. Its presence will perhaps be
known first by the fruit. If your spiritual fruit is not as beautiful,
well-flavored, and fully developed as it should be, look for the presence
of sloth in the soul. The poison of sloth will get into the soul little by
little. First there will be a momentary delay of spiritual duties. Satan
is too wise to suggest an entire abandonment of them, but he will suggest
a little postponement. One delay will soon be followed by another and then
by another. These delays are an opiate that dulls the spiritual senses,
and thus they will yield more readily to postponements and finally find
pleasure in them.
Let me make this still more simple, for some may need it made very easy to
understand. When the soul is like a watered garden, it will be drawn to
God in prayer in the early morning. Any delay will cause uneasiness and
restlessness. The soul longs to hasten away to the presence of God. But
one little delay after another brings on a morbid condition. The soul
loses its keen relish; its senses become deadened, so that there is no
uneasiness; while the senses of the self-life will find pleasure in sloth.
When the soul once gets into the habit of idleness, it experiences no
little difficulty in getting out. On becoming aware of his state, the
individual may acknowledge his inactivity and make half-formed resolves to
be more earnest and diligent, only very soon to relapse into the same
former sluggishness. This virus of sloth inoculates the entire spiritual
being, poisoning the will and making spiritual activity most disagreeable.
Not only does it destroy the will of the soul, but it blindfolds the eyes
so that the individual can see no necessity for great fervency in spirit
or for diligence in spiritual exercise. In a half-dazed manner he
acknowledges that the "watchings often" and "fastings often" and "praying
always" of the apostle Paul were very consistent in him, but does not
realize that such would be as desirable in his own Christian profession.
He wonders why he is not healed as people were in the days of Paul. Why
wonder? He does not wonder why the flowers wither when it does not rain.
It is the fervent, earnest prayer that God hears.
Nothing but the greatest diligence and determination and strong laying
hold upon God will ever put spiritual sloth to death. In this respect it
is like the South American animal called the sloth. Though one species of
the sloth is only the size of a cat, and is extremely slow on the ground,
its highest rate of speed there being not more than ten feet an hour, yet
it is difficult to exterminate.
One reason why so many are slothful is that they do not realize the true
worth of prayer. Oh, I would to God that men rightly valued communion with
God or a few thoughts of him! The lifting of the heart to God in praise or
adoration is of greater value than the wealth of worlds. It is not enough
to know much about the doctrine of the Bible, to be acquainted with this
present reform, and to live a fair outward life; we must be filled with
the Spirit. We must be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose
leaf does not wither. Take plenty of time to gain heaven. Take time to be
spiritual. A home in heaven is worth laboring for. Work out your salvation
with fear and trembling. Spiritual dryness is the result of spiritual
indolence. Be active, and you will not be unfruitful.