Have you felt stuck in your prayer life? Does it seem your prayers don’t get anywhere? Things are really bad, and you need something big from God. Or you feel overwhelmingly frustrated, confused, or listless. Especially in tough times it’s more important than ever that you learn to pray for a breakthrough.

Praise, thanksgiving, intercession, listening to God – those are all super important parts of prayer. Prayer is opening of the heart to God as to a friend. It’s always appropriate to pray – about everything. Prayer also comes with the need to take action.

But when you’re facing something difficult or overwhelming, praying reaches a new level of intensity. Here are some Biblical characteristics of praying for a breakthrough.

  1. Persistent

God hears you when you pray. Every “Please help me!” or “Thank You!” He even knows your heart’s desires before you ask Him.

But there is something about persistent prayer that makes a difference. Remember Elijah. (1 Kings 18:42-45) Or the widow in Jesus’ parable. (Luke 18:2-8) Prayer that changes things is persistent.

That does not mean that if you twist God’s arm hard enough and long enough He will always give you what you want. God is too big for that. Much of why this is important is the process persistent prayer creates in our own hearts.

Jesus often asked those who came to Him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Persistent prayer clarifies in your own heart what you are after. It may bring you to the end of yourself. That’s a good thing.

It also opens places in your soul that the Holy Spirit desires to change. That’s a good thing too, perhaps even a better thing.

  1. Open-Handed

Jesus encouraged us to go to our Heavenly Father with our needs and desires. Like your child honors you when they come to you with their requests, we honor God when we do so.

But also like an earthly parent, God is not obligated to give us what we ask for when we think we want it. There is much about God’s economy that we only partially understand, but we know He is too good to give us what will harm us, and too good to withhold from us what we need. (Matthew 7:9-11)

That does not mean all our earthly needs will be met as we think they should be. Poverty, disease, violence, and more come to both the good and the evil. God’s protection and intervention does not guarantee ease and comfort – yet.

So our prayers must be open-handed, from a position of humility. It’s not you demanding something of God; He doesn’t respond to that. He is much more concerned about a relationship with you. And that is always available.

  1. Spirit-Inspired

Did you know the Bible says you don’t know how to pray?

We can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Always! But we as humans do not know how to pray as we ought. Our human tendency is to often pray for things we want because we want them. (See James 4:2-3)

That’s why the Holy Spirit prays for us, and with us. (Romans 8:26) Without that, it’s easy to see God as a heavenly vending machine – put in a prayer, get out a blessing. Spirit-inspired prayers are aligned with God’s purposes in and for us. Whether or not circumstances change, that kind of praying always changes you.

When something is heavy or emotion-filled, I’ve learned to pray something like this: “Lord, I know what I want. My emotions are hooked. And I’m asking you for . . . . But as much as I humanly can, I put my emotions aside. I need to hear Your voice about this. Only then will the outcome be a good one.”

  1. Kingdom-Minded

We live in the crossfire between God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness, and sometimes we get wounded in that crossfire. The presence of the kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary message. (Mark 1:14-15) We are told to pray for God’s kingdom to come. (Matthew 6:10)

If ever there was ever a time in earth’s history when it was necessary to remain under the protection of the blood of Jesus, that time is now. In the drama of earth’s history we are near the end. How near the end only God knows. But as things wind down, we will need that protection ever more acutely.

Remember that spiritual warfare is not primarily a matter of power or territory. If it were, the enemy would have been eliminated a long time ago. The core issue is, who has your heart?

But the implications of spiritual warfare in your life and in our world are real. The enemy is bent on taking you out. That is not a reason to fear! But it is a reason to remain daily under the protection of the blood of Jesus.

And remember, spoiler alert: Jesus wins!

  1. Beyond Yourself

God has not only saved you from something; He has saved you for something. And that is something much bigger than yourself.

Pray for that package of toilet paper, for that parking spot, for the rain to come (or to stop). God cares about those things!

But remember that God is not most concerned with your comfort and happiness. He desires your transformation from the inside out, now and eternally. He desires you to experience the satisfaction of becoming useful, and that only comes through struggle. And He desires you to know the joy of being a part of something much bigger than yourself.

He also desires you to partner with Him in making Him known to others. You yourself, as a transformed overcoming follower of Jesus, are the very best advertisement that God is who He says He is, that the enemy has lost, and that Jesus wins.

Pray bigger prayers.

These are some of the characteristics of breakthrough prayers.

I invite you to come on a 30-day journey to learning more about Powerful Breakthrough Prayers. This email devotional series will do just that.

These daily Scriptures, examples, and prayers will strengthen your Biblical understanding of prayer, and demonstrate strategies and tactics that will empower your prayer life to continue to experience breakthrough both now and long after the 30 days is over.

Your Turn: Where have you experienced breakthrough prayers in your life with God? Which of these characteristics of breakthrough prayers challenge you to stretch your own prayer life? Leave a comment below.

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