Tag Archives: breakthrough

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 21

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 1:1 KJV).  What things are you hoping for?  I come from several generations of school teachers.  If your mother was anything like mine, she reminded you never to end a sentence with a dangling preposition, such as “hoping for.”  So let’s ask the question another way: “For what things are you hoping?”  The King James Version completes the verse: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  There’s a mysterious element, an “unseen” aspect to this thing called hope.

According to my “big fat Greek Bible,” the word elpis, translated as “hope,” describes an “inner, psychological sense of hope” and defines it as “confidence, eager anticipation, expectation, longing, or aspiration of the heart.”*

That’s a big hope—a risky, audacious brand of hope.  I don’t see a lot of “high hope” these days. People seem guarded. Cautious. Afraid to “get their hopes up.”  I don’t know about you, but I am more afraid of low-level living–without this kind of daring hope–than I am of falling from the cliff of high hopes.

Let’s ponder the question one more time: What are you hoping for? Let the thought roll around in your mind. Take it to the Lord and ask: “Lord, is this hope from you?” Then, over the next few days, seek Him with your whole heart.  Watch.  Listen.  Spend time in His Word.  Share your hope or dream with a wise friend.

Remember. Hope is hard. It calls for courage.   It’s costly and requires constant filling by the Holy Spirit.   Over the years, I have learned that to hold onto a high hope, you have to stay close to Jesus.

But with a God-given hope, the sticking power of the Holy Spirit, the affirmation of God’s Word, and a few good friends, nothing is too good to be true.  And nothing is too hard for God.


* The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NIV version, Spiros Zhodiates, ThD. Editor, (AMG publishers), is my personal favorite Bible ever!

Fasting Works

I can’t tell you why fasting is so powerful.  I just know it works.  Last week marked the end of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Naghmeh  is convinced that doors were opened for her unexpected meeting with President Obama through the fasting and prayer of thousands around the world.

The Bible describes different kinds of fasts.  Fasting can be abstaining from food, as when Jesus’s fasted in the wilderness.  It can also include prayer and action on behalf of the oppressed, the hungry, and the poor as we find described in Isaiah 58.

Fasting helps us break through long standing bondages. But there are also practical benefits.   I shared may own top ten takeways.  Some of you are telling me about yours.  I love hearing stories of what God has revealed to you during these days of fasting.

My friend Jan describes the encouragement she received from her “fast journey.”  A Bible teacher, prayer warrior, and one of the godliest women I know, Jan joined in the 21 Day Fast.  She fasted and prayed faithfully for Pastor Saeed and others.   But she also experienced some unexpected personal benefits. “I was fasting to make better life choices with my eating habits, ” she writes. “I fasted from sweets, junk snacks, sodas and wine.”  She adds,  “The Lord has really taken my desire for sweets away.  I’ve missed my diet cokes (but not enough to go back to the one per day I was drinking).  This morning I had lost six pounds!  I saw a weight on the scale that I haven’t seen in a year or more!! Could not believe it!  It meant so much to know others were in this with me!”  Jan plans to continue her good habits.  I feel sure she’ll see other unexpected breakthroughs and become even more effective in her ministry to those around her.

Maybe that’s how fasting works. It clears our vision.  Lightens our load.  Increases our focus.  Helps us break through the “stuck” places in our lives.  And although I still can’t tell you exactly how or why, I am certain:  Fasting works.  So I plan to keep practicing.  I’ll be on the alert.   I’m eager to watch for signs of God at work, both here and around the world. I hope you’ll join me.

Remember:  Be self controlled and alert for the purpose of prayer  (1 Peter 4:7).


Day Seven: Only by Prayer and Fasting

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta laugh a little.  Even when life seems serious.  Jesus was a “man of sorrows acquainted with suffering,”  but he must have had a playful side.  His parables were often laced with irony and wit.  He hung out with coarse fishermen.  Sinners felt comfortable in his presence.  Even little children were drawn to Jesus.  And children usually steer clear of someone who is no fun.

We’re on day seven of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed. Some of you may be wondering if fasting works.  I hope to encourage you with a story about one of the first times I ever fasted.  In the end, there was an answer to my prayers, with a humorous twist that still makes me laugh.  For me,  the episode was unforgettable and opened my eyes to the power of prayer and fasting.  It happened when my almost twenty year old son was nearly two.


“This Kind only Comes Out by Prayer and Fasting”

After the birth of a beautiful daughter and a fine strong son, I still felt like our family wasn’t finished.  We had agonized through years of infertility before having our two children. People wondered why would we put ourselves through more anguish and expense when we already had a daughter and a son.  I could only describe my feelings by explaining that it was as if someone was “trying to come to us.” And sure enough, just a couple of months shy of my fortieth birthday, our little Michael made his entrance into this world.

Our lives, which had become fairly predictable with a nine year old and almost six year old, took a sudden detour back to the world of diapers and midnight feedings. Things were made easier by the fact that Michael was a happy child. But he was also active,  curious and always into something.

Michael’s curiosity as a toddler was the reason I had to call poison control three times in one week. He  swallowed a penny, drank a bottle of ear drops, and ate half a tube of toothpaste all in the same week.   This is still a family record.

Michael began developing sinus infections the winter before his second birthday.  The repeated infections were resistant to antibiotics, and grew more serious by the day.  This forty-something mother of a toddler was exhausted. Doctors were baffled.  Our next step would be a series of x-rays to determine the cause of the infections.

Six weeks into this saga, I decided in desperation to fast for our son.  I had little experience with fasting, but I was at the end of my rope. I wasn’t sure how one even did such a thing.  So I resolved not to eat. Throughout the day,  I went to God over and over with the same simple prayer:  “Help, Lord…we’ve tried everything. Surely You know what is causing these infections. Please show me!”

After naptime, I let Michael venture outside to play for a little while.  It was unusually warm for February and he had been cooped up for weeks.  A few minutes later, he ran inside pointing to his nose. For a split second, I simply thought he wanted me to wipe it.  Looking closer I caught my breath.  A partially lodged brass pin-back (the kind used to fasten a sports insignia) was sticking out of Michael’s left nostril!

As I gently removed the badly tarnished (and very gross) pin-back,  it suddenly dawned on me that this was the culprit of our forty-day ordeal!  When I asked Michael how the thing got into his nose,  he explained, in toddler language, what happened.  Weeks earlier, he had climbed out of his crib one night and crawled up on his big brother’s bed.  He unfastened one of the sports pins on his brother’s baseball cap and stuck the pin-back in his nose.  Seriously??

We stood there, incredulous, Michael and I,  half-laughing and half-crying.  I could hardly believe what had just happened. And right at that moment, a calm, yet somewhat amused inner voice seemed to whisper the same words Jesus once spoke to his disciples.  Words I have never forgotten:  “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” 

*You can read the entire story in  Mark 9.


Day One: Fast for a Breakthrough

Starting today, I’ve set aside the next twenty one days as a season of prayer and fasting.  I’m doing this largely to stand with my friend, Naghmeh Abedini.  Naghmeh is asking friends and family to  intercede with her for the release of her husband Saeed from two years of captivity in an Iranian prison.

Like Naghmeh, I’m following the example of Daniel in the Bible (Daniel 10:1-14), who set aside three weeks during which he sought God fervently through prayer.  The book of Daniel has been a source of strength for Naghmeh during the over two years that Saeed has been in prison. You can check out the complete version of her Facebook post about the 21 Day Fast by clicking here.

Naghmeh writes to friends and family:  I would like to ask you to join me in prayer and fasting for three weeks. January 6th through January 27th (the day that Saeed was convicted to 8 years in the Iranian prison because of his Christian faith). I plan to abstain from coffee and chocolate. You are free to abstain from food, social media, TV or skip a meal or two…the point is to spend that time in prayer.

For a Daniel fast, there are lots of books and websites that go into more detail.  But Daniel makes it pretty simple:  No “choice” food.  Naghmeh is giving up coffee and chocolate.  I plan to go gluten-free.  The text says that Daniel “ate no choice food, no meat or wine…and used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over (Daniel 10:3).”

Point being:  Ask the Lord what this time of fasting and prayer should look like for you. Perhaps you will give up a meal each day, or maybe you feel the need to fast from something besides food.  Be creative and keep it simple so it will be sustainable.

This is also a good time to fast for areas in your own life that may feel stuck.  I’m not sure why fasting adds power to prayer…it just does.  And the Bible is full examples of fasting and prayer as a way to get “unstuck.”

Prayer:  Lord, I commit the next 21 days to you for a season of prayer and fasting.  I pray for a breakthrough for Pastor Saeed, Naghmeh and their children. I also lift up _________, someone I love who also needs a breakthrough. I watch expectantly to see what You will do and I praise You in advance.  Amen. 



breakthrough in battle

Do you ever feel like some problems just won’t budge?  You can’t seem to win your spiritual battle, no matter how much you pray and pray and pray?  Perhaps you need a breakthrough.

Breakthrough was first used as a military term to signify an offensive thrust past the defensive lines of warfare. The word entered the realm of common speech during the technological age, often used to describe a sudden discovery or invention.  Breakthroughs usually occur only after repeated failures.

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