ANSWER: If I can speak for others, I would say that all believers have experienced this at one time or another. When this happens, we lose the zeal we once had and we find it difficult to pray, thinking that God surely can’t hear our prayers when they are said without real conviction. We lose our desire for reading the Word, knowing that we have no real interest in applying it to our daily lives. We also find ourselves avoiding fellowship with other believers, and the joy we once had in sharing the gospel with those who need Christ is completely gone. In short, we feel as if we are simply “going through the motions” of living the Christian life without the power of the Spirit and the love of Christ energizing our faith.
There may be several reasons for this sad state, but two especially come to mind. First of all, we may have “fallen asleep spiritually.” Solomon wrote the following words in Proverbs 24:30-34, “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” The literal interpretation of this passage is plain; when one is lazy and fails to maintain their property it will fall into a state of disrepair. Likewise, if we become “spiritually lazy,” by failing to maintain our fellowship with God through prayer and reading His Word, we will fall into a state of spiritual poverty and our faith will seem to be stagnant.
Another potential cause for this deplorable state is SIN. It may be sin that we are unaware of in our lives that has robbed us of our joy and spiritual vitality. In this case we need to cry out to God as David in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Or it may be a sin that we are aware of and this will surely sever our fellowship with God, as we read in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
In both cases we need to go to the Lord in prayer. If we have indeed “fallen asleep,” tell the Lord how you have neglected His Word and prayer and ask Him to rekindle the desire you once had. Many have echoed David’s words found in Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” If you have sinned, go to Him in true repentance and confession and He will restore you, as He has promised in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Regarding the thought of one’s “faith becoming stagnant,” there is a portion in Scripture which teaches us how to keep faith alive. I’m thinking of 2 Peter 1:5-8, which reads “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yahushua Mashiah/ Christ” (NASB). God has given to every believer in Christ a new life and this life needs to be developed. These verses speak of the development of our new nature and of how we need to add to our faith all of these Christ-like qualities. If we are growing spiritually, we are given the wonderful promise that we will NOT be “useless or unfruitful”; in other words, OUR FAITH WILL NOT BE STAGNANT! We will maintain a spiritual vitality and will bear precious fruit for God. Verse 9 goes on to describe what will happen if we fail to add these qualities to our faith, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” The truth is, we are never really “stagnant,” for we are either going forward in our spiritual development or we are going backwards. It is solemn to think that through a lack of spiritual growth we can lose spiritual discernment and a vision of heavenly realities, and we can even forget that we have been forgiven of our sins. May the love of Christ and His matchless grace prevent such a state by giving us the diligence to add all of these wonderful qualities to our faith.