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Gospel Q&A: What Do I Do If I’m Not Feeling the Spirit Like I Used To?

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Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “I have been a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day for many years. I have served in callings. I have ministered to others. I attend church weekly. I’m still trying to pray and read scriptures, but in spite of all of this, I haven’t felt the Spirit in a long time. I feel alone and I’m wondering if God is even real. What do I do if I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, but I cannot feel so now?”

Do you have a question you’d like to see answered? Send us an email at calledtoshare@ldsdaily.com or leave it in the comments below.

My heart goes out to each person who feels this pain. You hear people at church express their joy and happiness in the gospel, or about receiving answers to their prayers, and you begin to wonder what is wrong with you that in spite of all your best efforts, it feels like your own prayers are bouncing off the ceiling instead of going on to heaven.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf recognized there may be times we aren’t enjoying the full blessings of gospel living. He said, “I also recognize that there are some who have a less-than-fulfilling experience—who feel that their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for.”

Elder Uchtdorf went on to describe some reasons why we may not be enjoying the full benefits of our membership in the Lord’s church. I’m sure there are numerous reasons why this might happen. This article will discuss three, and then discuss some ways to help you overcome them and more fully walk in the light of the gospel.

Illness

Both physical and mental illness can make it difficult to feel the Spirit. Our senses are dulled when we are ill—often even our spiritual senses. If you or someone you love hasn’t felt the Spirit in a long while, considering if illness, either mental or physical may be contributing. Mental illness can be extremely complicated to treat, but recognizing it for what it is can provide relief to know God isn’t walking away from us. There may just be a wall of mortality between us and the Lord moment manifesting itself as illness. Treating the illness may be a major step in breaking through that wall and returning to the presence of the Lord.

What can you do to improve your physical and mental health to remove barriers to feeling the Spirit?

Sin

We would rather not talk about it, but sometimes our separation from God can be explained by the little ways we have pulled away from Him through sin. Sometimes sin is a layer on top of another factor and we have to peel away all the layers to find Him again.

When I was experiencing a period of depression, I felt numb and empty anyway, so I justified watching movies I hadn’t seen before because of their rating. I knew the movies would drive away the Spirit, but I felt like a) I could handle it, and b) what real difference would it make anyway? As my eyes became opened to my circumstances, I knew I had to repent of letting small things keep me away from the Spirit.

Don’t layer sin on top of other factors that may be separating you from feeling the light and love of the Lord. The Savior rushes to our aid when we sincerely repent.

What might the Lord be asking you to repent of so His Spirit can return to you?

Being in a Spiritual Rut

Sometimes the Spirit withdraws as a catalyst for change. We may have gotten along just fine reading the scriptures once a week before. Maybe a rote bedtime prayer was enough. But now, the Lord wants and expects more. If the Spirit remained, perhaps we would be too complacent to make the changes the Lord knows we need and are ready to make. Evaluate your study and your attempts at a relationship with the Lord. Perhaps the Lord wants to move you from being acquaintances to friends, or from friends to close confidants.

How might the Lord be directing you to up your spiritual game?

The Lord Trusts You

When you’re not feeling fully and regularly inspired to do what’s right, the Lord may be demonstrating His trust in you that you will use your agency to choose Him–even without Him boosting you up to do so. If you use your agency to choose Him–even when it seems that He is silent–you are proving to both Him and yourself that you are committed to Him and committed to your covenants. Then, when further waves hit, when further troubles storm, you already know what side you’re firmly on. What greater gift can we give the Lord than yielding our own will and faithfully choosing Him?

There is Hope

While there are numerous ways to be missing out on the light of the gospel, there are also numerous ways to invite the Spirit to return to our lives. Here are two.

Gratitude

Often in these periods that feel like separation from God, we plead with Him in prayer. There’s nothing wrong with this, but our mindset will shift if our focus does. Rather than be trapped with thoughts of what we lack, we can invite the Spirit by remembering and acknowledging our vast blessings.

No matter what is happening in our lives, we are more blessed than we are tried. Always.

It is so easy to take for granted our blessings, but when we contemplate what the Lord is sparing us from and the daily breath He provides us, we will begin to feel closer to Him. It may not come all at once, but choose to practice gratitude. Choose to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in as many ways as possible.

Hold On

At church, we often speak of faith, but we may not speak of faithfulness often enough. Faithfulness speaks of loyalty and allegiance. We may not get to choose if we feel the Holy Ghost, but we absolutely can choose to remain loyal to the Lord no matter what.

Do we think the Lord isn’t there just because we can’t hear Him? Just because we can’t see Him or feel Him? What we are temporarily experiencing has no bearing whatsoever on the reality of our God. We must faithfully endure. We must loyally endure. We can choose to believe Him even if for a time our belief has to be based on memories. Using our agency to choose Him even when we may not feel like it is the ultimate expression of yielding our will. If we endure in faithfulness we will be blessed—eventually—with the warmth of the Spirit we remember.

There may be factors in the way of our feeling the Spirit that we can work to eliminate, and there may be times we just need to remember Him and endure well. If we commit to staying by His side no matter what, we can be certain He is there and we will feel His Spirit return.

Hold on and don’t let go, friend. It will be worth it.

Disclaimer: While all of my answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t believe any of my answers are comprehensive. I’m just one person using the gospel I have been blessed with to bring hope, peace, and answers to other seekers of truth.

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Rebecca Wright
Rebecca Wright
Becca loves audiobooks, dark chocolate, singing, hiking, walking,  going out with her husband, and raising their chickens and children. She still wants to meet her hero Sheri Dew, see flowing lava and a blue whale in person, and uplift others with her words.

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