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on December 12, 2013
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. (one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008.) Batterson is also an author and has written several books.

The tale of Honi the Circle Drawer, is about a first-century man who lived during a great drought in Jewish history. Honi was more of an "activist" than he was a "miracle worker" in that he drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move until it rained. (thus putting God to the test).

Tradition says that when it started to rain, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more. Through the "tale" Honi proceeds to go back and forth with his prayer until the rain is "to his liking." (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 23a).

Tradition also says that Honi was excommunicated for his actions - because the Rabbi's believed that his "ordering of God" and his "stunt" was dishonorable to God. There are others who believe that God and Honi had a "special relationship" and that therefore Honi was "allowed" to be so brazen with his creator.

Either way, this is not a "biblical story" more so than it is Jewish folklore. I don't know how we could "prove" this incident took place, it more than likely did - but I don't know how I feel about this being the subject of a kids book.

I know Mark wrote a book about this same subject for adults - and I think adults can better process this story. And it is a wonderful example of the power of prayer. But I think if kids see the story and the pictures they might assume it's a story from the Bible.

The story is wonderful and the pictures are beautiful - I would certainly recommend this book for a Jewish home - or for kids who can understand that this is not an actual bible story.

Thank you to Zondervan for an advanced copy of this book to review.
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on June 9, 2014
An excellent story which illustrates that an action, such as a prayer, by one person can change circumstances for many.
Lovely illustrations. I will read this book to the children at the Christian elementary school where my grandchildren attend.
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on May 9, 2015
I was disappointed. I love Batterson's adult version and have re-read it a few times. But, I had hoped for more with the kids' book. It is too immature for grade level children. I had planned to buy it for all of my grandchildren. Instead, I donated it to our Christian preschool.
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on June 10, 2016
Was a little disappointed. Read the adult book and was Hoping this had actual kid applications. It's only the story of the circle maker. Nothing else. Book is huge and illustrated well. Just short story and felt it would have been better with some child like applications.
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on October 11, 2013
Love all the circle maker books and enjoy reading this to my little one. I buy this book as a gift for every baby shower I attend.
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on November 19, 2015
SUMMARY: This is a story based on a Jewish legend of a drought in Israel. The people complained about the lack of water and lost faith. So they went to Honi, a man who lived on the outskirts of Jerusalem. They believed God would listen to Honi's prayers. Honi drew a circle in the dirt, sat down in it and began to pray. God brought a sprinkling of rain which was not enough. So Honi asked again for more rain. God then brought too much. Honi asked again, but for a rain of blessing. God answers his prayers. The people praised God and began to make their own prayer circles when they needed a miracle.

ILLUSTRATIONS: The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous with lush color and fine details. The layout of the pages is very nicely done so the story flows well.

REVIEW: I have seen many mixed reviews about this book claiming it to be a misuse of a Jewish story to mislead Christians. True, this is not a Bible story, but Jesus taught his people through fables all the time. Yes, this is not a story based on the Bible, however there is a similar story in Genesis of Jacob who wrestled with an angel until he received a blessing. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” So, in essence, what Honi did by holding firm in his prayer with God is Biblical. There are a few major points that make this theologically correct as well. 1) The prayer circles were for miracles--not "I want it because I want it" prayers. 2) Honi had a special relationship with God. Therefore, he knew how to pray and God listened. 3) The book states that God always hears and that he always answers. This is true. In the Circle Making book the author reminds us that "Praying hard is praying through...But remember that it will be on God's timeline and in God's way." So why did Honi get an exact answer? Because of his strong relationship with God. 4) Circle making teaches that if you want your prayer answered more specifically, you need to pray more specifically. In other words--Get closer to God and learn how to pray. 5) Honi prayed with a humble heart unlike the people who prayed by whining. 6) In the end, the people learned to pray humbly and learned how to have a relationship with God by "circling the promises of God" (which are in the Bible) and claiming these promises (God keeps his promises and does not lie).

I love the last page that says "God honors Bold prayers because bold prayers honor God." Again Biblical: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

I liked this kids version better than the adult versions of Circle Making which are too wordy and not as easy to understand. The kids book broke the concepts down very easily and nicely. It would have been helpful if the author showed that what Honi did was Biblical by using Bible references to back the story up, but one hopes Christians know their Bible well enough to know what is truth and what is not.

AGE RECOMMENDATION: Advertised for ages 4-8. I highly recommend this for ages 5-9. I also highly recommend a LOT of discussion be used with this book. It is not meant just to be read, but to be used as a teaching tool.
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on September 4, 2013
I have loved all of the Circle Maker books. A great faith builder and filled with practical ideas. I have applied many of his ideas.
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on January 28, 2014
My kids received a copy of this book from a well-meaning family member. I hadn't heard of it and didn't think too much of it. Our policy has generally been that the more books in our home, the better. After this one had been hanging around for a while, I decided to give it a read for myself and see what it's about.

That plot line runs something like this...

There has been no rain for a long time. The people need rain for their crops and animals. Food is getting scarce. They need a miracle. Someone remembers there is an old man who used to get his prayers answered regularly. So they found him and consulted him.

Honi, the old mystic let them know that the key to getting prayers answered was to draw a circle in the dirt on the ground, enter that circle, and stay in that circle praying until God answered the prayer.

He did this and asked for rain. The rain came. When it was not enough rain, he asked for more rain. More rain came. When that was too much, he asked for a gentle rain, and then there was a gentle rain.

So, Honi gave the people a sort of equation for how they could get God to give them what they wanted. It looks like this:

Draw a circle + Keep praying inside that circle = Answered prayers

The problem? That's not what God teaches in the Bible. If you're not a Christian, and have no concern for the Bible, then you won't really care about this point. However, if you accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God, then you should have issues with this book.

The Bible teaches us that God is Sovereign - that he has dominion and authority over all things at all times and all places.

The Circle Maker teaches us that we can unlock a secret code by which we can have God do what we ask. At that point God must submit to us and acquiesce because we used the correct code. In doing so, we get to have authority over God and get what we want, regardless of what God wants. This is the biggest problem with this sort of health, wealth, and prosperity teaching. It teaches people that they can be in authority over God, which is of course, the oldest of all temptations.

So, don't get in a circle and ask God for things he doesn't want you to have. Get in the Bible and learn what type of man or woman he wants you to be and start being that. Live out of the overflow of the love he has shown you. As you do that, your desires will become much more like his desires and it won't matter if you're praying in a circle or a square or anything else.

Teach your children the authority of scripture. Teach them to love God. Don't teach them they can have what they want from God if they draw a circle and pray.
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on June 28, 2014
Loved it! I will always keep this book as a keepsake for my kids. I read it and explained the story and they understood. It gives your kids a personal touch to add to their prayer life.
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on January 6, 2014
After having read a number of the other Circle Maker books by Mark Batterson, I was really excited to get this and share it with my children. It did not disappoint. It is an amazing book for kids to teach them the importance of praying and praying about and for everything. The story is wonderfully done for children. The illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo are amazing. My son loves picking up the book and just going through the pictures again and again. This book will be a great gift for any young children in your life. It is amazing.
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