Draw the Circle

draw tge circleI was pretty excited when I saw that Draw the Circle was an available book in the BookSneeze list. I’ve read all of Mark Batterson’s previous books and appreciate his writing style. Several months ago I was able to purchase multiple copies of The Circle Maker to make available to some of our leaders here. Draw the Circle is a continuation of that book.

In this offering, Batterson builds on the principles of The Circle Maker, but also includes stories and testimonies he has received from people who have read his book. He designed this book to be a 40 day devotional and it came at a good time for me as I was just finishing up a Bible reading plan.

I have found Batterson to be quite quotable and my Kindle version of the book has a list of highlights from various chapters. While Batterson is a proponent of believers spending time in prayer, he doesn’t see prayer (or drawing prayer circles) as a way to get God to do what we want Him to do. In one chapter of the book, Batterson writes: “Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.”

Just a few pages later, Batterson makes this statement: “If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory.”

Draw the Circle is a good resource for those looking to grow in the discipline of prayer. I found both Batterson’s words and the stories he shared to be both helpful and challenging.

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Praying Circles Around Your Children

I’ve read several of Mark Batterson’s books including In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy DayWild Goose Chase and The Circle Maker.  Praying Circles Around Your Children is a shorter book based on the principles and scriptures found in The Circle Maker.  I read the entire book in two sittings, but it could easily be read through in 60 – 90 minutes.  Batterson does a good job of building on what he wrote about in The Circle Maker and made it applicable to parents.

He shares stories not only from his own experience of raising three children, but also from parents he has met through his various speaking engagements. He also receives emails from people who have read his book and take time to share their stories.

I was challenged by this book to be in regular prayer for my children.  Batterson emphasizes the importance of not giving up when it comes to praying for various things.  One quote from the books states it well:  “We need a paradigm shift.  We need to start praying ALAT prayers – as long as it takes.”  He shares stories from people who prayed on a regular basis – some for several years – for their children before answers came.

Many times when you read books like this and you have older children, you get the feeling it is too late.  Batterson addresses that as well.  He writes specifically to those who have teenage students.  “When they enter middle school or high school or college, we need to intercede for our children.  Pray that they will make the right friends and the right choices.  Pray that their conscience will keep them on the straight and narrow.  Pray that they won’t just survive; pray that they will thrive.”

Praying Circles Around Your Children not only encourages parents to pray, but offers practical ideas on how to do that.  If you are a parent, this book will be an encouragement to you.

The Circle Maker Review

A few days ago I finished reading Mark Batterson’s latest book, The Circle Maker.  The title comes from the story of Honi the Circle Maker (you can read Batterson’s retelling of Honi’s story from a previous post.)

The Circle Maker was a challenging read to be sure.  I have read Batterson’s other books and also listen to his podcasts from National Community Church in D.C.  From those two sources I have become somewhat familiar with the story and growth of NCC. In this book, Batterson continually points back to the prayers he and the church prayed about the church’s direction and growth.  On most occasions, the prayers were not offered once, but were prayed over a long period of time.  Through the pages of the book, Batterson points to prayers that were prayed and how God answered them months and even years later.

Batterson not only uses stories from his church’s experiences, he also include many Biblical references that underscore the need to be persistent and bold in prayer.  As he writes about prayer, he encourages believers to Dream Big, Pray Hard and Think Long.  One phrase he uses throughout the book is this – Pray as if it depends on God and work as if it depends on you.

After reading The Circle Maker one can’t help but put the book down and feel the need to become more disciplined and persistent in prayer.  Batterson does a good job of laying out practical steps and encouragement to follow through on that desire. The reality that kept coming back to me was that prayer is work and requires discipline to continue to circle the dreams and fears each one of us have.

The Circle Maker is a book you should pick up and read.  I know of several others who are reading it and are being challenged.  Grab a copy and be challenged to be a circle maker.

Honi the Circle Maker

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I have started reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker.  I was not familiar with the basis of the book, the story of Honi, the Circle Maker.  I did a little research last night just to get some more information.  Here is how Batterson retells the story. (I found this info on Catalystspace website.)

A few years ago, I was reading through The Book of Legends, a collection of stories from the Jewish Talmud, when I discovered the true legend of Honi the Circle Maker. It forever changed the way I pray. I pray more. I pray with more faith. I’ve learned how to pray circles around my dreams, my problems, my family, and most importantly, the promises of God.

A devastating drought threatened to destroy a generation–the generation before Jesus. The last of the Jewish prophets had died off nearly four centuries before. Miracles were a distant memory. And God was nowhere to be heard. But there was one man, an old sage who lived outside the walls of Jerusalem, who dared to pray anyway. His name was Honi. And even if the people could no longer hear God, he believed that God could still hear them.

With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi drew a circle in the sand. Then he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to heaven. With the authority of the prophet Elijah who called down fire from heaven, Honi called down rain.

Lord of the Universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children.

Then it happened.

As his prayer ascended to the heavens, raindrops descended to the earth. The people rejoiced over the rain, but Honi wasn’t satisfied with a sprinkle. Still kneeling within the circle, Honi lifted his voice over the sounds of celebration.

Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.

The sprinkle turned into such a torrential downpour that the people fled to the Temple Mount to escape the flash floods. Honi stayed and prayed inside his protracted circle.

Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of benevolence, benediction, and grace.

Then, like a well-proportioned sun shower on a summer afternoon, it began to rain in perfect moderation. Some within the Sanhedrin threatened excommunication because his prayer was too bold for their taste, but the miracle couldn’t be repudiated. Eventually, Honi the Circle Maker was honored for “the prayer that saved a generation.” The circle he drew in the sand symbolizes the power of a single prayer to change the course of history. It’s also a reminder of this timeless truth: God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.