Question: "What is a spiritual breakthrough?"
Answer: The idea of a “spiritual breakthrough” is subjective, and the term itself is not found in the Bible. Generally speaking, a spiritual breakthrough is an experience of having reached a new level of spirituality, whatever that means to the person who is “breaking through.” The experience will be different depending on the person (and the religion) in question.
In Christian circles, a spiritual breakthrough can be defined as a time when a person is saved, gains a deeper understanding of biblical truth, receives an answer to prayer, or wins the victory over a besetting sin. Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road could be considered a spiritual breakthrough, as he saw for the first time who Jesus really is (Acts 9). Peter’s experience on the rooftop in Joppa could be considered a spiritual breakthrough, as he learned that the gospel was for all people, Gentiles included (Acts 10). The conversion of Lydia on the outskirts of Philippi could be seen as a spiritual breakthrough, as she was the first person saved on European soil (Acts 16). The idea of a “breakthrough” suggests a preceding struggle that finally peaks and finds resolution.
Believers might seek a spiritual breakthrough when they are feeling far away from God. Many believers feel that they need a regular emotional experience during worship or prayer and that, if they don’t feel that emotion, there is something wrong with them or God has walked away for some reason. However, this is wrong thinking. The Bible says that God is always with those who trust in Him, guiding them (Proverbs 3:5–6), that we are never separated from His love (Romans 8:37–39), and that we can rest contentedly in His promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Should we seek a spiritual breakthrough? We can and should pray for wisdom (James 1:5), victory over sin (Ephesians 6:18), and the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). But intimacy with God does not require a series of “spiritual breakthroughs.” Working under the assumption that a connection with God already exists (that is, a person has faith in Jesus Christ for salvation), spiritual growth occurs in that person as naturally as a tree growing in the soil and sun. The tree grows because of its placement—its nearness to God (Psalm 1). How do we achieve nearness to God? It happens exactly as it would in a human-to-human relationship: spending time together, knowing one another’s thoughts, making choices that please the other person. We read the Bible (which is the sum of His revealed thoughts to man); pray to Him, trusting that He is faithful to do what He promises (2 Corinthians 1:19–20; Deuteronomy 7:9; Hebrews 11:6); and choose to think and act according to what is good (Philippians 4:8; Galatians 5:16–24).
The healthiest human relationships are not based on breakthroughs or emotional highs but on steady, patient growth through faithfulness and love. It is no different in our relationship with God. Emotional and spiritual highs do occur—we sometimes receive amazing answers to prayer or times of extraordinary insight or periods of intense joy. But these are frosting—delicious, but not to be sought as the substance of our relationship. If we focus only on the highs, we might miss the beautiful, quiet moments in the valley when God works unseen and we experience no thrilling epiphany. Rather than focus on our own experience, we should pray in patience and perseverance that God will complete the good work He began in us, however He sees fit (Philippians 1:6).