Ok maybe you can receive a breakthrough in 21 days. It does happen, and it's usually because we are at our end, our living end and just ask God to have His way, that we cannot do it anymore on our own. That is where real change begins. Yet in a speedy insta type culture, the humbling of ourselves is last on the list and the do it now is more top of mind.
Remember how we have all heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit? According to my random google search I found this- "The “21 days to form a habit idea” seems to have come from a 1960 self-help book by cosmetic surgeon Dr.Maxwell Maltz, called “Psycho Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life,” says Wendy Wood, a University of Southern California psychologist who studies the way habits guide our behavior." source here.
Basically, the entire American culture now believes that it only takes 21 days to create a whole new positive habit because a cosmetic surgeon wrote a book saying it was so.
The reality is, this is a myth, as many well meaning 21 day-ers have discovered and proven. Think of it, if this were indeed true, why would gyms be back throughout January, which has 31 days, yet totally vacant come March?
Thinking this through, we do this in the church because we see a first mention of a 21 day breakthrough in the book of Daniel, a stunning example, by the way, and decide that if God did this for little ol Danny, well surely He'll do it for me!
In Daniel 10:2-3 , we see Daniel stop drinking anything strong, not eating rich foods or using any anointing oils and perfumes until the end of 3 weeks. When the angel comes to give him the revelation of what he had been asking of the Lord, the angel remarks that first of all, Daniel is highly favored, highly valued and that on the first day Daniel set his heart to understand & humbled himself before God his prayers were answered, but that the angel had been more than pestered by a demonic stronghold over that particular area.
What is interesting about how the 21 day thing plays out in our culture today is that we have now adopted a plastic surgeon's motto he conjured up in a book as gospel truth and back it up by an incredible man of God's experience.
This is absolutely available for us as believers, everything in the Word is, all of it. Promises, prosperity, power and miracles. Yet, what we have failed to do as a culture is look at this principle and apply all the rest around it. We haven't considered anything beyond Daniel getting his breakthrough after 21 days of not eating the yummies and splashing on his perfumes he once enjoyed.
In late November, the Lord prompted me to begin running. I share more about that in this article. The thing is, I figured I would just run forever from now on, we call it streak running. Not for any accolades or even to be able to feel good about myself, just, I knew the Lord called me to it and was pretty sure He wasn't ever going to say, "now stop."
Of course, when I hit the 21 day mark of consistent running the thought crossed my mind about the 21 day thing to make a habit. Knowing full well I'd be running past any number of 21 days, I began to ask the Lord, what am I doing here anyway? Really more of, why is this still a challenge for me after 21 days of consistent running. Even though I knew the idea of habits for in a 3 weeks was not altogether accurate, apparently I did expect some miracle to occur on that day. I did notice that I had enjoyed the running process more than on day 1, that's a plus. But a breakthrough was no where in sight.
Not that day. Or day 22, or 35.
But on day 40, all heaven broke loose. I had some freedom in an area of my life I had been asking about for quite sometime and when I went to run that day, I felt incredible and managed to slice of 1 1/2 minutes a mile off my time. Through 40 days of consistent running, the Lord used that time, those miles of hitting the pavement, day after day, now week after week, to scrape off some trash and mental junk so that He could finally be heard through the crap and clutter.
Breakthrough was mine.
Curiosity spurred a conversation with me and the Lord about the idea of 21 days, vs what I had experienced. On these runs I would ask Him about 21days, why did it "work" for Daniel and why do so many nowadays fall flat on it. Why do some not experience such incredible breakthroughs in just three short weeks of committing to a fitness or eating program, or even 21 days of prayer? Why does it sometimes take longer, or not ever?
Here's the thing- looking back at Daniel and where he apparently was spiritually speaking, we have to ask ourselves the question, "am I at the caliber that Daniel was when he sought the Lord for 21 days?" In other words, what I am seeking to do in a matter of 3 weeks, in a fast of sorts, or giving up of something precious, sustaining from my favorite food, engaging in a prayer initiative, whatever it may be, am I at the level the Lord would want me to be at for this particular request? Am I mature enough to handle what He wants to give me? Is there any garbage keeping me from the treasure He olds in His ands, extended out to me?
Throughout the days of running, the Lord was constantly working on my emotions and my spirit. He would reveal things to me that I needed to confess, things and people I needed to forgive, and other issues that I didn't realize were just under the surface in which He wanted dug up, uprooted and thrown into His fire.
Like Daniel, I set my heart to hear and understand what the Lord might want to do in and through me during these runs and afterwards. Because my heart was willing, God had something to work with.
You see, in most 21 day ventures, we have an agenda, a to do list for the Lord as it were. We are "humbling" ourselves and committing to some idea for 3 weeks, but really with the hopes and intentions of getting from God, to see Him move His hand over a certain area of our lives or concern. Relationships with the Lord simply doesn't work that way. God is not the fulfiller of our honey do lists. He is the King of all, the Lord, the Creator of life itself, and... He loves us so very much, too much to let us blithely give Him a list of demands.
Rather, what we'd be wise to do in anything, fitness, food shifts, work goals and even prayer initiatives, is this- commit your way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5), trust Him, and let Him speak for once. Ask Him what are His thoughts about this idea, what does He want to give in this time? Is there something you are missing that will bring this thing to pass?
Slaves demand immediate gratification are not willing to seek the Lord and wait. Sons, on the other hand, are willing to work with raw materials, to listen for strategy and to wait for answers. Sons are willing to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, knowing full well, that when they do, in due time, HE alone, will life them up.
My friends, it's time to come up higher. It's time to seek our God and ask the question, "what do you have for me in this season, in this time? Bring me up to speed so that I can know Your very heart and mind in what You have called me to." It's time to set goals of 21 days, 63 days, and even decades beyond, but always asking the Lord, "what is it that You want to do in this season? Make me ready for it all and then some."
Daniel had a troubling dream. He knew there was only One who could answer and bring the revelation. Daniel knew that in order to hear and understand properly, he would need to remove the accoutrements in his life, the fluff. He humble himself, he set his heart to hear what God would say, and for that, Daniel was highly valued by God. May we all be found highly valued by our King as we set our hearts to His and humble ourselves before Him. There is merit and wisdom in a 21-day intention, but consider that breakthrough may occur a bit later, after you have been brought up to the caliber you need to be at in order to receive what it is you are asking for.