There are numerous reasons why breakthrough into our prayer answers often takes time. Daniel prayed and fasted for twenty-one days before he heard from heaven. At the end of that time, an angel appeared to him and explained, “… From the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days. But Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 10:12, 13).
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia” refers to an evil spirit that rules over Persia (modern Iran). There are many things we will not perfectly understand about the invisible world until we get to heaven. If we only knew how much of what happens in our personal lives and even over regions and countries is due to activity in the spirit realm! When we strive hard in prayer for a desired breakthrough and its coming is delayed and delayed again, often it is because of demonic resistance. One thing we must clearly understand: the more important the thing we are interceding for is to the Kingdom of God, the greater opposition we will face in the spirit realm.
Some of us are far more powerful intercessors than we think. We have been praying for awakening and transformation at the city, regional, or national levels for a long time, yet we seem to see more failure than victory, although we’ve been applying our utmost earnestness without letting up. Take heart! The prayers are reaching heaven and the results will come. It’s got nothing to do with you being inept or ineffective in your intercession. It’s got everything to do with how stiff the demonic opposition is. The adversary does not give up his territory casually. He’s planning on staying entrenched, taking his own potshots, hoping to wear you down until you give up and blame yourself for defeat. Don’t give him the satisfaction! 2 Corinthians 2:14 asserts, “Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ ….” There is certain victory for the one who doesn’t quit.
Maybe you’re not praying for a region. Your focus has been to pound heaven for the salvation of just one person. Perhaps you stand alone in the gap for your pastor. There can be just as much resistance from hell over these seemingly smaller arenas of influence, and you may wonder why it’s so tough. You don’t know how pivotal that one unsaved person or that one pastor may be in the whole plan of God. I doubt if Hudson Taylor’s mother had any idea that the fervency with which she prayed for her son’s salvation, simply because she loved her boy, would impact the entire nation of China one day through his ministry.
Another reason breakthrough sometimes takes a while is because we have to come up to a certain level of faith. We must overcome doubt and worry, and pray from our throne room position. Ephesians 1:17 through 2:7 talks at length about this position, particularly Ephesians 2:6: “and has raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Please see my posts on The Worry Factor and Building Our Faith for a more detailed discussion of these matters.
In addition, waiting for the answer builds desire, which in its turn increases desperation. There is something about determined desperation which God finds irresistible. He loves to answer the hungry heart.
He wishes to take us up to His level of compassion for the ones we are interceding for. The more we pray for them, the more we love them. We are built into the likeness of Jesus as we intercede in partnership with Him. The development of true compassion within us is a process.
Yet another reason intercessory breakthrough takes time is because God is in the business of raising up a Church of warriors. He wants to make us strong. Psalm 18:32-40 speaks of this:
It is God who clothes me with strength, and makes my way perfect. … He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms. You have also given me the shield of your salvation …. You have enlarged my steps under me, so that my feet did not slip. I have pursued my enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again until they were consumed. I have wounded them so that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For you have clothed me with strength for the battle: you have subdued under me those that rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I might destroy those who hate me.
Adversity strengthens us. Each test that we pass makes us capable of taking on a bigger prayer task the next time around. We pass from victory into greater victory.
If the struggle has been long, take heart. God will see to it that you receive your desired answer if you will persevere. And you will become a mighty warrior. It’s worth the battle.
Next time: Tips for making it through
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual