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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 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 June 6, 2013
Like Batterson's book "The Circle Maker", this book is very troubling and must be read carefully with much discernment and compared to the Bible carefully. Many have publicly commented negatively on the direction that author Mark Batterson's teachings are taking and the direction he may be headed - with accusations of "witchcraft", "ritual magic", "Jewish Talmud", a "prosperity gospel" "name-it-claim-it" direction of money, greed, false promises and a "me-centered theology", rather than "God-centered Christianity". Remember, the best false teachers slip teachings "that tickle our ears and appeal our our selfish desires" in the middle of many statements of truth. Pray for discernment before you read this book.

As a fellow-Christian and double-ly as a fellow 5 pt Calvinist, I wish I could say I believe the teachings of Mark Batterson are biblical. I read many statements about God's sovereignty and God's glory that my heart delighted over. However, in conclusion, I must agree with other reviewers that this book is absolutely promoting "prosperity gospel" and sadly, it is wrapped in the most clever, carefully-worded mask that I have EVER seen. This is not the easily visible greedy "prosperity gospel" of the "Word Faith" or "Word of Faith" cult. This is "prosperity gospel" carefully masked between beautiful statements of how we are to live our lives trusting in a sovereign God and living to glorify God! How "crafty" was the snake/Satan in the garden. Do not fall for his carefully disguised lies.

For every sentence, ask yourself "Do these teachings match the Bible?"

"In Luke 11[:5-10], Jesus tells a story about a man who won't take no for an answer. He keeps knocking on his friend's door until he gets what he came for. It's a parable about prevailing in prayer. And Jesus honors his bold determination: "... yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need." I love this depiction of prayer. There are times when you need to do whatever it takes. You need to grab hold of the horns of the altar and not let go. You need to dare demonic forces to a duel. You need to do something crazy, something risky, something different." Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510).

John Calvin says this verse means, "Believers ought not be discouraged, if they do not immediately obtain their desires, ... we have no reason to doubt that God will listen to us, if we persevere constantly in prayer..." However, notice how the alarm bells go off in your head when you read Batterson apply this to life by adding "there are times when you need to do WHATEVER IT TAKES." "You need to dare demonic forces to a duel." Is this biblical? Although some modern day Pentecostals believe we are to "go to battle with demons", the bible does not teach this. Batterson follows with this example extracted from the Jewish Talmud Scriptures (which Christians very much reject, as the Talmud is written by rabbis hostile towards Jesus) of "doing whatever it takes":

"The epitome of shameless audacity is the circle maker himself. When a severe drought threatened to destroy a generation of Jews, Honi drew a circle in the sand, dropped to his knees, and said, "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." It was a risky proposition. Honi could have been in that circle a long time! But God honored that bold prayer because that bold prayer honored Him. And even when God answered that prayer for rain, Honi had the shameless audacity to ask for a specific type of rain. "Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of Your favor, blessing, and graciousness." Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510). Zondervan.
First, this is a story from the Jewish Talmud, which includes some bizarre stories and portrays Jesus as a false prophet. We do not affirm anything in the Talmud to be a true account on its own basis. So we do not know that God honored any such prayer/demands from anyone named Honi. Batterson has dangerously gone into the Jewish Talmud and ripped a story out and is using it as a basis for teaching Christian prayer.

"The moral of this parable is to prevail in prayer, but it also reveals the character of Him who answers prayer. The request is not granted simply because of repeated requests. Prayer is answered to preserve God's good name. After all, it's not our reputation that is on the line; it's His reputation. So God doesn't answer prayer just to give us what we want; God answers prayer to bring glory to His name." Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510). Zondervan.
I can just see a dozen professing Christians demanding God grant their prayers "or else God will have a bad name." Or going before unbelievers and declaring "God will heal your mother or else He will have a bad name!" This is a very dangerous claim and I do not believe that Batterson accurately portrays prayer "for God's glory" as "according to God's will" and "according to God's foreordained purpose that is set from the foundation of the world" is nearly always left out of the context.
"Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle."

Draw a chalk circle around yourself and demand that God grant your prayers or you will not leave your little chalk circle [Batterson teaches the "don't leave" in his The Circle Maker" book]? How unbiblical and disrespectful and dishonoring of God. How self-focused and self-centered. Is this how Jesus taught us to pray? What happened to praying according to the Father's will?
Dozens of farmers showed up to pray [for rain]. Most of them wore their traditional overalls, but one of them wore waders! ...Why not dress for the miracle? I love the simple, childlike faith of that old, seasoned farmer. He simply said, "I don't want to walk home wet." And he didn't. But everyone else did. ...... I can't help but wonder if that act of faith is what sealed the miracle. I don't know for sure, but this I do know: God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers! And acting as if means acting on our prayers. After hitting our knees, we need to take a small step of faith. And those small steps of faith often turn into giant leaps. Like Noah, who kept building an ark day after day, we keep hammering away at the dream God has given us. Like the Israelites, who kept circling Jericho for seven days, we keep circling God's promises. Like Elijah,10 who kept sending his servant back to look for a rain cloud, we actively and expectantly wait for God's answer. ...... Don't just pray about your dream; act on it. Act as if God is going to deliver on His promise. Maybe it's time to put on waders and act as if God is going to answer. Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 539-559). Zondervan.

Exactly like the "Word of Faith" cult that is the primary promoter of the "prosperity gospel", Batterson starts encouraging believers to "take a step in faith." This is the same false teaching referred to as "seed faith" by the "name-it-claim-it" group. Biblical "trusting faith" is trusting in God to do the best thing for you whichever way He decides to answer your prayer. It is not "acting as if God were going to grant your prayer in the way you want it to" as if this "voodo" "mind over matter" could fool God into granting that prayer just as you wish Him to. This is completely unbiblical.

Especially, take note of Batterson's false claim: "I can't help but wonder if that act of faith is what sealed the miracle." Your "acting as if God were going to give you your desires" is NOT faith and it does NOT "seal" or "grant" or "cause God to move" in any such way. This is the unbiblical teaching of "seed faith", "faith-ing-it" or "mind over matter" or "mind over God". It is using your "behavior" to "fool God/prompt God" to give you what you want.

Immediately next, Batterson makes the bold declaration: "this I do know: God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers" This is completely false! First, God ALWAYS answers our prayers. Sometimes it's a "yes", "no", "later" but He ALWAYS answers them. So "acting as if He were going to answer "yes"" as if this little "behavior" were to twist God into answering a "yes" is completely false. Why not act as if God were to answer "no"? Same logic. This is completely unbiblical.

Like the master of deception himself, Batterson then cleverly slips in "we keep hammering away at the dream God has given us" [as the Israelites and Elijah did]. Notice that Israel and Elijah were given commands directly from God. "Our dreams" "wants" "desires" are not something God told us to pursue through a prophet. In fact, they are often worldly and contrary to the desires of God. This is why often God's answers to our prayers is a "no" because our Father knows these "wants" are not for our own good.

The number of passages in this book that teach an unbiblical view of prayer are astounding. This book is entirely "prosperity gospel" masked in low-Calvinism. And even then, the low-Calvinism promoted by Batterson is very tainted with a "man can influence God through clever tricks" theology.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.

If you disagree with any point in any of my reviews, please in a loving, edifying and respectful manner, write me "as you wish someone would correct you" in detail pointing out exactly what you think I missed. I long to be sharpened. God bless.
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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 March 29, 2016
If you've been puzzled about Christian prayer, here is a source of many revealing answers, clarifying many things not well understood in the Bible's important truths about prayer. This great information is not old generation theory but has been practiced and proven by a very much "now" author... Don't fail to "pick up your faith a notch" with this book...
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