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How to Fight Back Against Feelings of Spiritual Apathy

spiritual apathy

There are times in your life when you feel so close to God: at summer camp on the fourth night of the trip; during a season where you’ve experienced difficulty but have seen God pull you through; a time when the words of the bible seem to be leaping off the page and into your heart.

In times like these, God feels so real and you feel so alive.

And then there are times when you just don’t. You feel spiritually apathetic—as though God were a million miles away. This is what theologians have come to call the “dark night of the soul.

And what’s crazy is that you might feel totally fine emotionally and relationally. In fact, you might be in a position where you are completely happy and healthy in every aspect of your life apart from one—you just don’t feel God anymore.

You don’t want to read your bible. You don’t want to pray. You still maybe want to be a good person (or at least to be seen as one). But you really don’t want to engage in the mission that Jesus has entrusted to you. You feel spiritually apathetic.

You can certainly go through the motions—attend church every Sunday, bow your head whenever someone calls for prayer, quote bible verses that you memorized years ago. But you just don’t really care. At least not the way you used to.

If that sounds like you, I want you to know that you’re not the first person who has experienced this kind of spiritual apathy. There’s no shame in being in this kind of season. It’s a natural part of the progression of our faith.

But it’s during times like these when we need to make a concerted effort to continue moving toward God, even when we don’t sense him moving toward us.

The road back to spiritual vibrancy isn’t an easy one. But you’re never so far gone that you can’t come back stronger than ever.

Here are four things you can do to fight back against spiritual apathy.

1. Continue to Do the Things You Don’t Want to Do.

While it would be nice if you could, you just can’t control the way you feel.

But that’s isn’t to say that your actions have no effect on your feelings. Jesus once said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). That means that wherever you choose to funnel your precious resources—your time, effort, and money—your heart will eventually follow. It might not be instantaneous, but it will eventually happen.

So if you are feeling spiritual apathy begin to weigh you down, choose to keep doing the things that you don’t want to do anymore.

Continue to read your bible, even though you don’t want to—and even though you may spend fifteen minutes rereading the same chapter that your mind continues to drift away from halfway through. Keep praying, even though you feel like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. Remain planted in a Christian community, even though you’d rather do something else. Keep on serving at church, even though it’s not really exciting anymore.

If you do that, it might not happen all at once, but eventually your heart will be in it again. And this isn’t an invitation to be dishonest or inauthentic. But if you still believe and know that these things are important, continue to lean into them, even though it’s really hard.