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on February 15, 2013
First of all, this book is a 40 day devotional with most of the chapters ranging from 4-5 pages, but I didn't take the 40 days to read the book. I read through it whenever I had a moment to spare. Most of the chapters only took a precious few minutes to read through, but the content stuck with me. "Draw the Circle" changed my outlook on prayer. Prayer isn't something we should just do when we get up in the morning, go to bed at night, or something to say before meals. Don't get me wrong...I make an effort to pray throughout the day, but this book has definitely changed HOW I pray.

The author (Mark Batterson) explains the importance of having faith when we pray. Meaning if we are going to pray to God asking for a miracle, shouldn't we have faith that God will do it? We shouldn't be doubtful of God's ability to answer our prayers just because He may not answer them the way we expected. Batterson even suggests "drawing a circle" around the things we are praying for. For example, Batterson is a church planter and when his church was trying to figure out where God wanted them to plant their next church, Batterson took a prayer walk around the perimeter of the area they were looking at. He prayed through a 4 mile circle, asking God to show Him where to plant their church. And God provided an answer to Him.

There is no gimmick involved in the truths Batterson writes about. If we pray for God to show us miraculous things, He will. "Draw a Circle" around your failing marriage, your illness, your child who doesn't know Christ and your money problems. Pray without ceasing and see God answer in miraculous ways. Sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no, and sometimes it's a not yet but He always answers. Have faith that God will do what He says.

I think everyone would benefit from reading "Draw the Circle" by Mark Batterson. It's changed the way I talk to God, and how I view prayer! I would recommend this book to everyone I know, and I hope to get this book in our church library so more people are able to read it! Definitely 5 stars! Loved it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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on May 11, 2013
I wanted to like this book. No, that's not true. I wanted to love this book. Before requesting a copy to review, I had read several other reviews first, and saw many people talk about how life-changing it was. How it had revolutionized their prayer life.

I am sad to report that this wasn't the case for me. I did like it. It had some interesting and inspiring stories, some great quotes and reminders, and some good suggestions. It was just missing one thing: structure.

What I had expected, needed, and was hoping for was a linear approach, for want of a better term. To be truly useful to me, and for me to recommend it to others, a book like this needs to take a staircase approach. Each day's reading, story, theme, etc. should build on the day before. Ideally, a set of sub-themes would be great for a book like this (i.e. Day 1 - 10 "Press into God", Day 11-20 "Centering Your Circle on His Will", Day 21-30 "An Expectant Circle", Day 31-40 "Looking Beyond the Possible"...or something like that).

Unfortunately, each day seemed random. There was no follow-through in theme (beyond "pray, expect an answer, trust God", which was woven through most of it), and no momentum from one day to the next. As a result, I didn't feel like I really got anywhere, in part because the book didn't feel like it was going anywhere.

Having voiced that criticism, there is some other criticism--even rebuke--that Mark Batterson and Draw the Circle have received that I need to address. Some have connected the "circle drawing" to witchcraft, while others have insisted that Batterson is promoting a "health and wealth" or a "name it and claim it" theology and approach to prayer.

Both of these criticisms are patently absurd. No one could legitimately read this book and then charge the author with either of these.

Are circles used in some rituals in witchcraft? Yes. They're also used in geometry, gymnastics, roller coasters, and cooking. Are all of these to be avoided because they're obviously connected to witchcraft? (If you said "yes," please stop reading now--there's nothing else I can say to you.) The circle imagery used in this book has no more connection to witchcraft than any of these others do. Batterson uses it to make a point, and to help provide a somewhat tangible visual for the reader. To me, it did so effectively.

As for the other claim, that he is promoting a "health and wealth" or "name it and claim it" theology and approach to prayer, this is again untrue. As just one example of many, Batterson writes, "God is not your genie in a bottle, and your wish is not His command. His command better be your wish." This is so far from the charge of "health and wealth," etc. that they're not even in the same ballpark.

If you're concerned about either of these possibilities (witchcraft or a prosperity-gospel), consider your fears assuaged. If you're looking for a book that will revolutionize your prayer life, this may be it. It wasn't for me, but if you're not concerned about the scattershot approach, or if it works for you, then you may find Draw the Circle worthwhile. If nothing else, read it and draw some inspiration from some amazing quotes (like the one I shared above) that may help change your perspective (in a good way) or provided much-needed reminders.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book at no charge, but all opinions are my own.
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on June 7, 2013
Growing up I never really knew how to pray. I mean, I prayed the "thank you for this food" and "please bless me with this..." And they weren't fulfilling prayers. My husband and I and a group of friends decided we would take the 40 day prayer challenge and pray at 6am every day. I have to admit there were a few days were that 6am turned into 7ish am but regardless of the time I prayed, taking the time to really truly dedicate this time to God and in His presence has been amazing. For the past five years I have been praying for my husband to seek The Lord In prayer, and with this challenge I got serious about circling my husband in prayer and since we have done this challenge, his entire heart is in his prayers and I just see God working so much in his life. This 40 day challenge has been an amazing blessing.
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on January 25, 2014
This is a great book. I'm reading it at the same time as the original book. This would be a great tool for someone who is interested in starting a prayer journal. Each reading has inspired, convicted, and challenged me! The only disappointing part has been that there are a few of the same stories in them.
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on April 3, 2016
Good daily devotional type book. Some of it made me stop to think and I was grateful for that. Some of it, though, well, I felt like a little bit of a stretch and didn't make me think much at all. I didn't regret I did it or anything, just wasn't blown away. Maybe better for a new Christian who wanted lighter reading?
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on February 28, 2013
Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson

I have not had the opportunity to read the partner book Draw the Circle, but this devotional is wonderful. In depth and thought-provoking this devotional touches on details of the Word that are unique. Mark Batterson points out wonderful tidbits of information that make you realize how blessed you are and yet how much more blessed you can be if you take this 40 day prayer journey.

He prefaces the devotional by mentioning that Bill Rights stated that if you are seeking revival follow these steps: 1) lock yourself in your room, 2) get on your knees 3) draw a circle around yourself and 4) pray for the revival to start within that circle first! In reviewing this book, I committed to devote my next 40 days to prayer. You will enjoy this book if you do the same. You should be prepared to commit and heighten your relationship with Christ, even though spiritual controversy may come as you seek God. Yet, you learn that through faith we overcome all things. In retrospect I see that the answers to prayers not only came but even when feeling attacked those battles were overcome faster than before.

As I went through the 40 days devotional I felt that I should start sharing them with my students. We really began to camp out on the chapter that asks us to have the audacity to ask God for our dreams and then to take steps toward them. We decided to ask Him for crazy good stuff and it has lifted up these middle school students with amazing hope and I can see God moving in this group more than before. I believe you will not be disappointed.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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on June 28, 2014
As I learned to dream big, pray hard and think long, there was something each day that challenged and motivated me. There were specific answers to prayer, such as day six, Lord, Surprise Me. There were warnings of spiritual attack as we got deeper into prayer and the need for a prayer team to pray for us. Today is the end of the 40 day challenge for me. But it is not the end. Tomorrow I will start it anew. I will embrace the new habits and take prayer deeper. All for God's glory.
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on June 23, 2014
I had many friends who recommend that I read this book and take on this challenge. I was super excited about reading this book and doing the 40 day challenge. When I got the book and started reading it I was very disappointed in it. I feel like it is a very legalistic approach to prayer.
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on March 3, 2015
Maybe I have read too many of his books. It is a good review of his writings, and a challenge to pray. Stick to the plan and your prayer life will improve. Sometimes your forty days maybe 80 or 120. Still it is worth the effort.
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on December 9, 2015
I attended a new church recently and the pastor named this book in his sermon. Their bible study group is working through the 40 day circle of prayer. I was intrigued and pulled it up on my smartphone as he spoke; without the benefit of looking closely I placed the order and looked forward to its arrival.

As far as the witchaphobia goes, the nature religions have their place in human history and there's nothing particularly frightening to me about the idea that christianity can take a paganized form due to the fact that we didn't merely displace indigenous european faiths but brutally appropriated their customs in the process. Do you have a Christmas tree? Then get over it. Jeremiah 10:5 says they can do neither harm nor good. They're just trees ... Or circles. Keep calm and love God ....With that in mind, nothing of the kind really jumped out at me anyway from this, so I think it's a case of religious bigotry / hysteria on that point. HOWEVER!!

The thing that distressed me right at first was this book's insistence from the start that I ought not pray alone. It struck me as a sort of ponzi scheme attempt to get believers to sell the book to their friends so we can all read this book and pray in circles for 40 days together. I am sure this strikes gold for the publishers when a pastor like the one I heard gets their hands on it and suddenly poof they are flying off the shelves!! The group was already on their 16th chapter or something like that, I hadn't intended to join them for the formal study, I wanted to do the 40 days privately, and given the teaching that we pray in private and not on street corners to be seen and heard, I don't see why a book would specifically tell me not to do that. Unless, you know, it was trying really hard to multiply its sales ....

I tend to be overly skeptical of fiscal motives, though so I tried to keep an open mind over the next few pages but what then began leaping out at me are corporate buzzwords like "synergy" and related worldly terminology, together with emotional language "hooks" that triggered a real sense that the text had been focus-grouped for a calculated impact. In the back of my mind this reinforced my sense of being drawn into some weird kind of gimmicky prayer ponzi.

That's when I decided I would return the book, it just wasn't for me, maybe others but not me, and I saw the reviews by others which I hadn't the benefit of reading up front. The ones urging caution really resonated with the experience that I had. I came to spirituality primarily through a 12 step program, my higher power is Jesus and I am familiar with the Word but I'm not a regular churchgoer. I do maintain conscious contact with the God of my understanding though and I feel that sort of instinctual reaction that I had is a demonstration of the same discernment others have mentioned here.

In particular I found the comments about "tricking" God by "faithing hard" or whatever that person said to be strikingly poignant descriptions of my impression from the few pages I read. The entire thing just seems gimmicky like a "get rich praying" scheme and again, an attempt to multiply sales by aiming at a market of people who have influence and likely to use it in a group setting.

Disappointing, but I do appreciate the lesson in applied popular theology. I'm glad I figured it out soon enough and grateful for Amazon's generous return policy. Thank you God!!!
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