Question: "How can I overcome a feeling of spiritual emptiness?"
Answer: Unfortunately, all Christians have feelings of spiritual emptiness from time to time. Fortunately, God knew it would happen and has given us a lot of helpful advice in His Word.
It is often sin that causes our feelings of spiritual emptiness—possibly the sin of apathy toward God or sluggishness in our daily lives. Also, how we feel physically can impact how we feel spiritually. So the best advice to overcome feelings of spiritual emptiness might be to first examine if we have been disobedient to God’s commands for us. Ephesians 5:15–18 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Then, we should make sure we are doing all right physically—are we getting enough sleep, eating properly, etc.?
A Christian may feel spiritually empty sometimes, but he need never be truly so. No born-again Christian is ever without the Holy Spirit. All who are born again have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit the moment they believed in Jesus (Ephesians 2:1–10). The Holy Spirit has sealed each believer “for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
So the key to overcoming spiritual emptiness is to “fill up” with the Holy Spirit. Maybe that sounds obvious enough, but how exactly does one do that? Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in his booklet “Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life?” suggests these steps:
1) Sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:6 and John 7:37–39).
2) Confess your sins and thank God that He has forgiven all of your sins whether past, present, or future (Colossians 2:13–15; 1 John 1:1—2:3).
3) Present every area of your life to God for His gracious control (Romans 12:1–2).
4) By faith claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit according to His commandment in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14–15.
In doing those four steps, you are essentially doing spiritual breathing—exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure. In faith you are praying for what God already knows you need—the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Often in allowing the Spirit to fill oneself, there will be an immediate desire to dine on God’s daily bread—the Bible. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
It is also helpful to know where to turn for encouragement. Overcoming feelings of spiritual emptiness is often not a mental or academic exercise; rather, we need the personal touch of another born-again believer. Here is where the church comes in, with brothers and sisters everywhere, Bible study and support groups meeting locally, and, of course, worship services and the preaching of God’s Word. What a shame to dwell on spiritual emptiness, when brothers and sisters would love to help.