"Look kids, Big Ben!"-Praying for Breakthrough
In the movie, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, there’s a funny scene where the main character Clark Griswold and his family become stuck in a rotary, driving in circles. By the end of the scene, they’ve passed Big Ben and Parliament for the 100th time, the family is asleep in the car, and Clark laughs deliriously at the fact he just can’t breakthrough the flow of traffic to exit the rotary.
We’ve all had times where we feel stuck and need a breakthrough. While this clip is funny, it’s not as funny when it’s your career, marriage, ministry, or stability that is threatened or stagnant. Rick Warren highlights several principles of praying for a breakthrough from Daniel 9.
Listen to the Word of God- It was in Jeremiah’s prophecies that Daniel encountered the heart and promises of God to deliver Israel from captivity. He was moved to pray for a breakthrough for his people. We need to engage Scripture regularly, but a need for breakthrough creates an urgent need for more focused pursuit of God’s thoughts, will, and wisdom revealed in scripture. The more that God’s word saturates your heart, the more your desires and prayers will be in line with His heart and will.
Seek God Diligently in Prayer - Daniel 9:3 says “I sought the Lord earnestly in prayer”. The need for a breakthrough requires an intensified seeking of the Lord. This can’t be a casual pastime, or extra-curricular interest. Athletes don’t win championships in their spare time. Seek God with all your heart, throughout the day. Pray while you shower, eat, drive, wait in line. I’ve found going for walks to be helpful added times of prayer. And when seeking a breakthrough, prioritize increased times of concentrated focus with Him.
Express your desires with Emotion- In Daniel 9:4, The Message paraphrase it says “I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God.” Our prayers must be authentic, not just obligatory toss ups to fulfill your duty. Is your heart burdened and broken for the breakthrough you’re seeking? Are you willing to be vulnerable with God?
Fight for your breakthrough with Fasting- Daniel also fasted. Jesus assumed we will fast, he says “when you fast...”. When you’re seeking a breakthrough, you’re fighting for a spiritual victory to be manifested in the physical world. Fasting weakens the hold of physical dependencies while decluttering and detoxing the soul, heightening spiritual sensitivity and sharpening spiritual focus and clarity so you can continuously pray and move in step with the Spirit. Fasting is an intensified declaration of the importance and priority of the issue and exchanges time and dependance upon physical means for increased time and dependance on God.
Thank God for being God- In Verses 4, 9, 14, 15, Daniel appeals to God not based on his merit but on who God is, what He’s done and what He’s promised. When we praise Him while waiting for a breakthrough, it helps us maintain humble and hopeful hearts that recognize our powerlessness and God’s sovereignty. I suggest keeping a journal of how God has spoken to you, answered prayers, intervened, and been present.
Humbly confess your sin to God- Israel’s sin had led to their captivity. In Verse 5 - 19 Daniel confesses and repents on behalf of Israel. Unconfessed sin hinders prayer, undermines confidence, clouds our discernment, and may have contributed to the bind you’re in. Also, while explicit sin, may not be a direct factor, in seeking God, He may reveal things in you that are hindering your breakthrough; perhaps steps you’ve been afraid to take, a pattern of thinking that’s incorrect or unhelpful, or something you need to stop doing. While you are wanting God to fix the symptoms of the situation, there may be deeper root issues God needs to address within you. Are you willing to let God change you before He changes your situation?
Keep on praying- While Daniel kept on praying in verses 20 and 23, an angel came with an answer. The angel shares that God had answered the minute Daniel started praying, but it was not delivered or manifested immediately. Some breakthroughs come quickly, others take a while. While you are praying, God is at work, preparing you, refining your character and priorities, and maturing you. Praying persistently is not begging as if we are bargaining with a reluctant stranger to have pity on our impersonal need. Rather it is a determined and confident leaning on the ability, faithfulness and goodness of our Loving Father who instructs us to pray persistently and will bring a breakthrough His way in His time for His glory.
Nothing is beyond God’s transformative power, but He does call us to partner with Him in battle to bring about the victories of His Kingdom in the very real situations of our lives.