The pastor’s question seemed rhetorical, but I almost screamed, “Yes!” after he asked it.
“Are there certain areas of your life where you can’t seem to find breakthrough?”
I looked around the sanctuary. From the looks on people’s faces, it seemed as though everyone’s answer was the same as mine. This message prefaced an invitation to a fast the church would do together in the coming weeks. The pastor believed it would help bring the breakthrough so many of us needed.
While fasting is a powerful, biblical practice that can help us move forward in areas where we remain stuck, other elements of our lives play a crucial part. Several years ago, I heard this word “breakthrough” over and over at the start of the new year, and I asked myself why so many of us remain in a state of inertia, even when we attempt to break free from the things holding us back.
After searching the Word, I saw a facet we tend to overlook: Breakthrough starts in the mind.
If our thinking is not rooted in truth, we will never gain momentum by changing our physical habits. And while eliminating distractions can serve as a starting point for uncovering the lies we believe, our steps cannot stop there.
So what is one powerful way we can transform our mind? If we dig into scripture, we see God’s followers turning to one way over and over. Praise. As a matter of fact, in Psalm 30, we see David worship God for something he didn’t even see in his lifetime. David wrote this psalm to be sung at the temple dedication, but the temple wasn’t completed until after David died.
Even though the temple wasn’t built yet, David’s faith allowed him to pen the words anyway. He believed his son, Solomon, would finish the task. And because of his belief, the words flowed out of him.
What if we followed David’s example? What if our faith compelled us to praise God for the breakthrough we haven’t seen yet? For the answer to prayer, the promise fulfilled, and the healing we need? It would change us.
Sometimes God needs to do a work in us before he can move the mountain for us. Here are three ways to praise God for the breakthrough you haven’t seen yet.
1. Remember God’s character.
When we don’t see change or the progress we want, we need to remember God’s unchanging attributes. We can pray aloud, and remind him of his faithfulness, mercy and compassion. We don’t do this because God forgets, but because we do. As we proclaim the truths of who he is, our mental state often shifts because of instead of focusing on whatever obstacle or difficulty we’re facing, our focus is on the One who can help us through it.
We see a beautiful example of this perspective shift in the story of Hannah, who was barren. During her time, a woman’s worth was tied to her ability to have children, and Hannah could have let her affliction turn her into a bitter person. But instead, she poured out her heart to the Lord. Not only did she lay desires of her heart before him, but she praised him for who he was.
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.”
Hannah’s praise and remembrance of God’s character preceded her breakthrough. After this prayer in the temple, she conceived. But Hannah also realized that God was faithful whether her prayer was answered or not.
2. Remember God’s deliverance in the past.
It is always good to keep a record of prayers God has answered, whether it’s in the form of a journal, a jar of blessings, or some other method. Doing so helps our forgetful minds keep track of all of the ways God heard us. When we go through a hard season and we don’t think God hears us, we can look back and see his deliverance.
Scripture is filled with examples of people doing this, and in the Old Testament the common method of remembering was building an altar. Often, God’s people also gave him a new name to help them remember an aspect of his character they saw through his divine intervention. When Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Amalekites were a constant, formidable threat. They battled against the Israelites, but the Lord delivered Israel. As Joshua fought with his army, Moses lifted his hands up toward heaven with the help of Aaron and Hurr. Whenever Moses’ hands were raised, Israel’s army was successful in their fighting. After they won the battle, Moses didn’t gather his people and move forward to the next destination. He stopped and worshipped. He made sure he and his people would have a way to remember this victory.
“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
Exodus 17:15-16 NIV
3. Declare God’s promised victory over the future.
No matter what happens in the situation we’re facing, we can know one thing for certain: The ultimate battle has already been won. Jesus defeated our enemy, Satan, on the cross, and even though he has influence over the earth right now, his time is limited. One day he will be put in his place once and for all. When we worry about the future, we can take comfort in the fact that God is already there. He goes before us and behind us, and nothing comes as a surprise to him. We may be going through a tough season right now, but God will use it to do something beautiful in us and through us. It may take time and space to see it, but the transformation will happen if we maintain our faith.
Why is our faith so important? Because it is the ultimate way we will achieve breakthrough. Not by changing circumstances, but by unwavering faith.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
1 John 5:4 ESV
Praise and worship are a place the Spirit loves to inhabit, and a place the enemy hates. And as we lift our voices and songs declaring the breakthrough we haven’t seen yet, we create fertile ground for change to take place.
But then, we must take a step. Because you see, faith means not only believing and declaring the truth, but acting on it. It means giving feet to the proclamations we made with our mouths. This is when we see real growth. We have the divine opportunity to see God do the impossible, because we made a move in the sphere of the possible.
Is there a place in your life where you’re stuck? Do you long to see God move, but are at juncture where you’re tempted to give up hope? Even if it’s difficult at first, praise him anyway. Do what you can in the earthly realm so that he can do what only he can in the heavenly one.
Your worship will create a stream in the wilderness. It will put fresh fire in your bones for the road ahead. And at the right time, breakthrough will come.
If you need to shift your focus from disappointment and worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about those seasons when it doesn’t seem as though God hears us, and how to see that he is working, even when we life doesn’t look the way we anticipated. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This book came at just the right time in my life when I needed to change my perspective. Abby McDonald’s beautiful and easy-to-read writing felt comforting and gently guided and helped me shift my attitude. There are so many great quotes throughout. There are few books I treasure enough to keep forever—this is one of them.” -Valerie
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.