Healing Water for the Soul

L.B. CowmanBy L.B. Cowman7 Minutes

Excerpt taken from HEALING WATER FOR THE SOUL: Selections from Streams in the Desert and Springs in the Valley by L.B. Cowman.

A Letter from the Editor

As L.B. Cowman watched her husband slowly fade away due to declining health, she put pen to paper and wrote about the experience of fellowshipping with God in the midst of hardship, loss, and heartbreak. In 1925, Cowman published the treasure that is Streams in the Desert.  The title of the book came from Isiah 35:6: “Then will the lame leap like dear, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (NIV).

Cowman never anticipated that her devotional would be such a renowned success. She credited God for giving her Streams in the Desert.  Fourteen years later, in 1939, she published Springs in the Valley.

Collectively, the devotionals have sold more than two million copies. Not only have Cowman’s writings provided hope and encouragement during difficult times: the words God gave her have healed the hearts and souls of countless people. Two individuals who served with the missionary association founded by the Cowmans, share how the devotional impacted them:

When I was in high school, I received a copy of Springs in the Valley, which I used throughout high school and college. It helped me in my daily walk to draw closer to Jesus and keep me focused on him. I then used Streams in the Desert throughout my adult life. The Scriptures and devotionals were always what I needed as our family went through many trials and tribulations, including sexual abuse, a son in prison, and another son with special needs.  I am consistently challenged by the compilations of stories and examples, as well as the poetry. I currently send monthly email updates and always use a devotional from Streams to inspire and encourage others. My husband and I served as missionaries with One Mission Society for more than 40 years, and I have used these two devotionals for over 60! – Linda Six, Retired One Mission Society Missionary

One Mission Society introduced me to Streams in the Desert when I was living in the UK more than 40 years ago. This daily devotional has encouraged me in my walk with the Lord, and each time I read it, there is something new and fresh that encourages me. The Scripture is short, but the insights are powerful. I can still remember the first week that I read it, and the devotional was “prove me now.” I had never thought about proving God by bringing my tithes and offerings. My experience is that you can never out give God. May this book challenge and encourage you as it has challenged and encouraged me. – Carl Walton, VP of Human Resources, One Mission Society USA

In honor of L.B.Cowman, we have curated entries from both Streams and Springs to offer another generation the opportunity to experience one of the most inspirational devotionals ever written.

Pray continually.


Is it hypocritical to pray when we don’t feel like it?

Perhaps there is no more subtle hindrance to prayer than that of our moods. Nearly everybody has to meet that difficulty at times. Even God’s prophets were not wholly free from it. Habakkuk felt as if he were facing a blank wall for a long time. What shall we do when moods like this come to us? Wait until we do feel like praying? It is easy to persuade ourselves that it is hypocrisy to pray when we do not feel like it; but we don’t argue that way about other things in life. If you were in a room that had been tightly closed for some time you would, sooner or later, begin to feel very miserable—so miserable, perhaps, that you would not want to make the effort to open the windows, especially if they were difficult to open. But your weakness and listlessness would be proof that you were beginning to need fresh air very desperately—that you would soon be ill without it.

If the soul perseveres in a life of prayer, there will come a time when these seasons of dryness will pass away and the soul will be led out, as David says, “into a spacious place” (Ps. 18:19). Let nothing discourage you. If the soil is dry, keep cultivating it. It is said, that in a dry time this harrowing of the corn is equal to a shower of rain.

When we are listless about prayer it is the very time when we need most to pray. The only way we can overcome listlessness in anything is to put more of ourselves, not less, into the task. To pray when you do not feel like praying is not hypocrisy—it is faithfulness to the greatest duty of life. Just tell the Father that you don’t feel like it—ask Him to show you what is making you listless. He will help us to overcome our moods, and give us courage to persevere in spite of them.

“When you cannot pray as you would, pray as you can.”

If I feel myself disinclined to pray, then is the time when I need to pray more than ever. Possibly when the soul leaps and exults in communion with God it might more safely refrain from prayer than at those seasons when it drags heavily in devotion.  CHARLES H. SPURGEON

Order your copy of HEALING WATER FOR THE SOUL: Selections from Streams in the Desert and Springs in the Valley by L.B. Cowman ©2022 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan.