Prayer From a Poverty Spirit

I felt Father saying recently that one reason that some of our prayers aren't answered is because they're asked too early in the process, and thus, they’re not an expression of faith, but an expression of lack of faith.

Sometimes we are facing a journey, an obstacle, and we ask for help overcoming the obstacle BEFORE we start the process of overcoming it. We ask for help overcoming an enemy, a habit, a temptation, a struggle, but we ask before we've started to fight, before we’ve started the struggle (Heb 12:4), which means we don’t need that answer yet.

Sometimes, we feel the need to understand the process BEFORE starting the process; we want help in the warfare BEFORE we’ve engaged in the warfare. In other words, before we need the help.

Sometimes we feel the need to ask in advance because we don’t trust that Father will provide for us IN the process. We ask BEFORE we need because we don’t trust Father to provide IN our need.

Functionally, this is the expression of a poverty spirit: a lack of confidence that Father will be a good father to us; a lack of confidence in our place as favored son or daughter.

If we understand before we start, then the process, the journey, is not a journey of faith, it's a journey of knowledge. And suddenly, verses like Rom 14:23, 1Cor 8:1, and Gen 2:9 come into play:

[Romans 14:23b] "for whatever is not from faith is sin."

[1 Corinthians 8:1b] "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies."

[Genesis 2:9b] "The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

When we’re asking for God to give us NOW what we don’t yet need, we are not walking in faith, in trust. Or rather, we’re not trusting in him; we’re trusting in what we have, what we know, our own strength. That is a prayer that Father, because of his great love for us, cannot answer.

Having said that, it’s very appropriate to ask NOW for provision once we engage in the battle. I refer to these as time-warp prayers. “I expect to be engaged in this battle soon, Father, and I’m asking, now, that you’ll put into my hand the weapons that I need, when I need them.”

I believe that a good part of the solution to this is to change our trust from trusting the provision, to trusting our Provider. In application, this means more time in prayer knowing Him, and less time asking him for stuff; more time on the couch next to Him, and less time across the desk from him; more time in relational prayer, less time in business prayer.

Asking for What’s Already Been Promised

Dealing with a promise from God – whether a promise from the Scriptures or a prophetic promise – is in some ways a little counter-intuitive.

We tend to think, “He’s promised. He’s God! He’s probably not going to forget!”

No, God’s not going to forget, but that doesn’t mean that we can forget, and just expect the Bluebird of Happiness to drop promised blessings on our heads whenever he gets around to it.

King David was awesome. He’s the most “New Covenant” character in the Old Testament. I love learning from David! In 2 Samuel 7, God makes this epic promise to him.

So how did David respond to the epic promise from God? He walked out on the prophet.

He walked out without even a polite word, got on his face in God’s presence, worshipped, and then did something really strange.

He asked God to do the very thing that God had just promised he’d do.

"Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. "So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel.' And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. [2 Samuel 7:25-26 NKJV]

So David receives the promise from God, and then immediately asks God for the exact thing that God had just promised.

First of all, that sounds like a good way to get your prayers answered: ask God for what he’s already promised.

But more to our point today, it seems like a wise response to a promise: When God promises something that you like, respond by asking him for the very thing that he’s promised.

Jacob does the same thing in Genesis 32, and he, also, knows that he’s doing it: he’s asking God for what God has promised.

It’s easy to complain, “But he promised! It’s up to him to fulfill it! I shouldn’t have to do anything!” I understand that complaint, as I used to whine it at God with some regularity.

Have you ever been to a sushi bar that has thousands of plates of sushi on conveyor belts? They’re kind of fun. All kinds of yumminess rolling on by, and you can reach out and pick the one you like.

I suspect that God’s promises are a little bit like that. Or think of them like a menu: he’s making the offers, but it’s up to us to order what we want off the menu, or to take the sushi we want off the conveyor belt.

Why would God expect that of us? I’m so glad you asked. I believe there are two reasons.

First, he is honoring his promise to us. In Psalm 115:16, God declares, “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the earth He has given to the sons of men.” This is the same commission he gave us in Genesis 1:26: he has delegated authority for what happens on this planet to us: he is asking for someone with that delegated authority to partner with him, to give him permission to do what he has indicated is his will to do. But he won’t go around our authority.

And second, he’s training us, as any good father will, for the job that we’re inheriting. We are heirs of the kingdom of Heaven, and if we don’t learn how to administrate the kingdom with little things (like believing him for the things that he has already promised), then we’ll never be ready for the work he’s planning for us.

This has the additional advantage of changing how our soul deals with things: if I’ve spent time in prayer on the topic, then it’s much easier for me to trust God in that area than if I’ve just seen it on the menu, and assumed that he’ll deliver it to my table.

So when you encounter a promise – whether in the Book or in a prophetic message – my recommendation is that you treat it like God has just described the “Specials of the Day” and order the ones that you want. 

A little bit of self disclosure. Or maybe an explanation.

You’ve probably already figured out that my first name isn’t actually “Northwest” and that I’m not really Gandalf the Grey. This is a “pen name”  (“A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author.” ~Wikipedia).

Pen names, of course, are not uncommon. Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) all wrote under pen names, though for different reasons than I do, I’m sure.

Here’s a little insight into my reasoning:

         For the vast majority of people who read my writing, there is no functional difference between knowing me as “Todd” or as “Nor’west.” Whether you know my name or not, you don’t actually know me. Knowing me only comes through relationship, not through names. Get to know me, and then you'll know me, regardless of the name you know me under.

         Some people want to say, “But that doesn’t tell me anything about you!” Those people aren’t paying attention: knowing my name doesn't tell you anything about me either. On the other hand, a fair bit of my calling is to build up the prophetic gifts in the Pacific Northwest region of the US, the area that geologists and sociologists call Cascadia; that’s where the name comes from. Facebook wouldn’t take “Northwest” as a first name, so we go with “Nor’west,” a nautical term that means the same thing. That certainly says more about who I am than “Bill Smith” ever would.

(By the way: Note that my name is NOT “Nor’west Prophet.” I’m not naming myself a prophet. Too many people give themselves titles and offices; don’t count me among them, please.)

         I’ve run into a fair number of people who want to know my name simply to exercise some sort of power over me, whether imagined or real. I’ve walked this walk long enough to know that the enemy of our soul is real, and has real followers.

         I’m not, as some have feared, trying to accomplish some nefarious purpose with this pseudonym. If that were my goal, I’d need to do something nefarious, and no thank you. I can’t think of anything nefarious that sounds interesting. Besides, I don’t like doing things I’d need to repent of later.

         More important to me, I’ve watched many believers work for the Lord, but build up their own name. I’ve met so many “ministers,” who are quick with their business card, announcing that they’re the founder and apostolic leader of “Fredrick J. Fuffenfuffer Intergalactic Glory Network” or some such foolishness. It is my opinion that there’s only one Name that needs to be magnified, and let's agree, it isn’t mine.

         Perhaps you’ve heard the stories about the children of Christian leaders? They’re called “PK’s” (Preacher’s Kids) or MK’s (Missionary’s Kids). One of my best friends growing up was a PK, and I watched as he lived up to (down to?) the nasty reputation surrounding the title. There is a stupid amount of social pressure placed on the children of known church leaders. I determined not to do that to my treasured children. Frankly, I think it’s sad how many amazing kids are sacrificed on the altar of a parent’s ministry or career or public image. My children are in full agreement with my anonymity and the reasons for it.

         The only folks who are treated worse than PK’s are Pastor’s Wives. I’ve been a pastor much of my life. If you knew the Treasure who is The Lady that has, at great personal cost, gloriously lived out her vows about “for better or for worse,” then you’d understand why I don’t care to force her, against her will, into a fleshly limelight that glorifies people instead of God. It’s repugnant to both of us. I will not knowingly ask more of this from her.

         A few people have been concerned that I’m not accountable. That’s silly. I’m just not accountable to them. I have a number of godly men (and one beautiful bride) whom I trust completely, and to whom I make my life as open a book as I am able. I reserve that kind of relationship for folks who have walked many miles through stinky places with me, and I’m not actually looking for new accountability partners at this time.

         I’ll tell you how the Gandalf image came about: over the years. (I use his image as an avatar on Facebook and other social media sites.) Over the years, I’ve used a number of photos as avatars ( ); one time when I changed my image from Gandalf to something else, a lot of people fussed and wanted Gandalf back. OK, sure. Since Gandalf has, as I do, has long hair and a big ol’ beard, and since he doesn’t come with all the social baggage of the other bearded guy (Hint: Ho, Ho, Ho!), I stuck with it.  I admit, I've been inconsistent, if only to save me from having to come up with new faces every few weeks. Besides, I love who Gandalf is in the books wherein he appears.

If you want to know more about me, then read what I write (I do write under this name for several blogs; they’ll generally get posted to Facebook, so that is where you’ll find the biggest selection.)

Feel free to dig through my archives in this blog and on Facebook, and read what I write about. Listen to see if God speaks to you there (that is, after all, the goal). Or you may ask other people about me (but please honor them [and me] enough to NOT ask them private details, like my personal identity or my family life).

I’ll say this much about me: I’ve been walking with Jesus for half a century, and that, in fact, is the high point of my life. I’ve been a pastor (usually associate), a missionary, parachurch ministry leader, church planter, wayward son and religious hypocrite. I’ve learned of His ways in all of that. Oh, and I’m in love with his fiancĂ©, but he tells me he’s not jealous.

If you want to really know me, join in the conversation, though understand that I’ll be far more receptive to it in the public arena, particularly on ongoing threads on my wall. As a matter of policy (and honor for that treasured lady I mentioned earlier), I generally don’t engage in private conversation with women.

If all of this offends you, that’s actually OK. God has given both of us a free will, and you’re completely free to choose not to be in relationship with a strange old guy with hidden face and a funny name. God bless you as you follow Him along the path He’s leading you on.

This is the path He’s leading me on. I really like walking with him, so I’m going to stay on this path, because that’s where I find him. If any of the insights from my path help you on yours, then we’re both richer for it, aren’t we?