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170 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dream Big. Pray Hard. Think Long.
THE CIRCLE MAKER by Mark Batterson is a book about prayer and faith which will encourage, challenge and motivate the believer. Lead pastor of National Community Church, Mark writes with insight and clarity about the importance of "dreaming big, praying hard and thinking long".

The story begins with Honi, a legendary Jewish figure from 1 BC, whose faith and...
Published on December 13, 2011 by Jeffrey E Ellis

837 of 939 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the way Jesus taught us to pray
I've put off reviewing this book for a long time. I was sent a prerelease copy by Zondervan before the book was published in mid-December of 2011. Why has my review been so slow in coming? I struggle with critique for books that I don't particularly enjoy---and this was a book that I didn't enjoy; in fact, I don't care too much for it at all except for the fact that I...
Published on April 16, 2012 by Jeff Borden

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837 of 939 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the way Jesus taught us to pray, April 16, 2012
Jeff Borden (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
I've put off reviewing this book for a long time. I was sent a prerelease copy by Zondervan before the book was published in mid-December of 2011. Why has my review been so slow in coming? I struggle with critique for books that I don't particularly enjoy---and this was a book that I didn't enjoy; in fact, I don't care too much for it at all except for the fact that I like Mark Batterson. I had the opportunity to meet him personally a few years back at a conference in Ohio. He's a very good speaker and a seemingly genuinely nice guy. I've read all but one of his books to date and have pretty much enjoyed them all; my favorites have been Wild Goose Chase and Primal. This compounds my reluctance to offer my honest review of Circle Maker. I wanted to like it and I wanted to submit an encouraging review, but I can' least if my intent is to be honest about it. One last point before I continue, it seems as though I am in the minority with my opinion concerning this book, but then...the Prayer of Jabez has sold millions of copies and is a New York Times bestseller, so what do I know.

(From the Back Cover) In the Circle Maker, Pastor Mark Batterson shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the circle maker, a first-century Jewish sage whose bold prayer ended a drought and saved a generation. Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a circle maker, Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles around your dreams, your family, your problems, and, most importantly, God's promises. In the process, you'll discover this simple yet life-changing truth: God Honors Bold Prayers; Bold Prayers Honor God.

Without attempting to be overly critical, I have a fundamental issue with this: "Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles..." as compared to this:

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say:

'Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation"' [Luke 11:1-4].

Am I to believe that Mr. Batterson is going to unlock the mystery of prayer that Jesus did not? I wonder why Jesus did not teach his disciples about Honi. Surely Jesus must have seen the value of Honi's boldness and realizing that "bold prayers" are the secret to grabbing the attentive ear of God Almighty, he would have shared this information and teaching with them.

The book is full of neat anecdotal stories that grab a reader's attention. It is full of interesting stories, but that is about the extent of my generosity. I think the hermeneutic used to make some of the claims regarding "biblically-defined-theologically-accurate" prayer is weak at best. I suppose I could make a few examples, but the book is rife with them beginning with Batterson's interpretation of the "Jericho Miracle" to the "Feast of Quail" and on and on, through to "Daniel Fasting" and beyond. And... I have to admit I'm still scratching my head over Batterson's claim; "God has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be exercised in response to prayer. Simply put, God won't do it unless you pray for it. We have not because we ask not, or maybe I should say, we have not because we circle not. The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked."

I think this book is full of hyperbole. I think hyperbole makes for good copy and much profit. I think it also contributes to bad thinking, and in this case - bad theology. Prayer is more about unity with the Godhead than it is making petitions and supplication. A soul who is in constant and unbroken fellowship with the Godhead will pray the prayers of the Trinity and will be in agreement with Him at all times. Although I did give one of my copies away, I can't in good conscience recommend the book as a faithful teaching on prayer.
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138 of 153 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Poor and Disturbing Claim on Biblical Truths, August 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Paperback)
I didn't know what The Circle Maker was about until I began to read it. Neither did I know anything about Mark Batterson, its author. I knew the book only as a Christian bestseller and its author only as a name that often appears in my inbox as people ask if I know anything about him or have read his books. "My pastor gave everyone in the church a copy of this book. Have you reviewed it?" Finally I read it.

Mark Batterson is lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a church regarded as one of the most innovative and influential in the country. He made his debut in Christian publishing with In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and followed that up with several other titles, including The Circle Maker.

The Circle Maker finds its title and inspiration in Honi Ha-Ma'agel, a Jewish scholar who lived in the first century B.C. and who is described in the Talmud. He is remembered as a miracle-worker in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha. Wikipedia provides a condensed version of his most famous miracle:

On one occasion when God did not send rain well into the winter (in the geographic regions of Israel, it rains mainly in the winter), he drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move until it rained. When it began to drizzle, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more rain; it then began to pour. He explained that he wanted a calm rain, at which point the rain calmed to a normal rain.
Batterson says, "The prayer that saved a generation was deemed one of the most significant prayers in the history of Israel. The circle he drew in the sand became a sacred symbol. And the legend of Honi the circle maker stands forever as a testament to the power of a single prayer to change the course of history." From Honi he has learned the value of big, bold, audacious prayers. On a very practical level, he has learned the value of drawing figurative (and sometimes literal) circles. The promise of his book is that it "will show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities. You'll learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals."

The book has been widely-praised and has received hundreds of positive reviews, but surely people have simply failed to understand that Batterson has committed a grave error. He begins with Honi, an character who appears in books that are not (and have never been) regarded as inspired by God. He takes Honi as an authentic character who performed an authentic, God-ordained miracle indistinguishable from the characters and miracles of the Bible, and then reads what he learned from Honi back into the Bible. Rather than interpreting Honi through the lens of Scripture, he interprets Scripture through Honi so that from drawing circles he inevitably moves to marching circles and goes to Jericho, asking questions like "What is your Jericho? What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life revolve around?" He even reads Honi back into church history, looking to Christians of days past and saying that they were drawing Honi-like prayer circles.

The book's examples and illustrations are largely drawn from his own life, from the dreams, goals and desires that he has seen fulfilled. He speaks of drawing a large circle around an area of Washington by walking around it while praying; before long he had a successful and growing church within that circle. He writes about circling a building he wanted for his church, marching around it, laying hands on it, even going barefoot on its holy ground, until it was his. Occasionally he shares examples from others so that he speaks of a friend who desperately wanted to be general manager at a certain golf course; he describes how his friend marched around the club house with his family seven times and then received the desire of his heart.

He anticipates the critique that what he advocates is a kind of "name it, claim it" theology and insists it is not. He says, for example, "Before you write this off as some `name it, claim it' scheme, let me remind you that God cannot be bribed or blackmailed. God doesn't do miracles to satisfy our selfish whims. God does miracles for one reason and one reason alone: to spell His glory. We just happen to be the beneficiaries." I think he doth protest too much for what he teaches is very nearly indistinguishable. While he may not suggest praying for a bundle of cash or a fancy new car, there is no reason in the book why we would not do this. "I have no idea what your financial situation is, but I do know this. If you give beyond your ability, God will bless you beyond your ability. God wants to bless you thirty-, sixty-, hundredfold." That sounds just too familiar.

When I had finished reading The Circle Maker I found myself reflecting on why a book like this one is so attractive. Why do people love it so much more than a more realistic, biblical book on prayer? What makes it resonate so deeply? Let me share a few suggestions.

First, Batterson describes the Christian life as one of constantly witnessing miracles. He must use the word "miracle" hundreds of times and writes often of all the miracles he has witnessed. I think there are times when every Christian longs to see God work in miraculous ways, yet the challenge for the Christian is simply this: Will you believe God at his Word or will you demand more? Batterson promises miracles, yet as he does this he defines down miracles, making a miracle any answer to prayer. We prayed for a building and got it. Miracle! I needed a bill paid and found money. Miracle! In this way every answer to prayer is a miracle.

Second, he makes direct communication from God the normative experience for the Christian. He speaks often of God whispering to our spirits and encourages Christians to follow inner impressions, what he describes as "the promptings of the Spirit." "Let me spell it out: If you want to see crazy miracles, obey the crazy promptings of the Holy Spirit." I believe that every Christian longs for that unmediated, face-to-face contact with God; and yet again, the challenge for the Christian is whether we will be content with being indwelled by the Holy Spirit who illumines the words of Scripture so that God speaks to us through his Word.

Third, he often takes Scripture far beyond its context which allows him to make promises the Bible does not actually make. He regularly claims Old Testament promises that were clearly meant for a particular people at a particular time as if they were written specifically for him. He looks to Revelation 3:8 and uses it to speak of opened and closed doors as they relate to knowing and doing the will of God. He writes about the spiritual value of the Daniel diet. To be frank, he utterly and consistently butchers Scripture; the Christian reading with an open Bible will soon have to see that so many of Batterson's claims cannot be supported.

Finally, he speaks confidently of things the Bible simply does not say and again, this allows him to claim more than the Bible allows. For example he says, "Sometimes physical contact creates a spiritual conduit. Proximity creates intimacy. Proximity proclaims authority. Drawing a prayer circle is one way of marking territory -- God's territory." He trumpets the value of visualizing what you want as a means to obtaining it: "When you dream, your mind forms a mental image that becomes both a picture of and a map to your destiny. That picture of the future is one dimension of faith, and the way you frame it is by circling it in prayer." The Bible gives us no reason to believe that God consistently relates proximity to power or that there is value in visualization (though you may note that New Age teachers often make both of those claims).

The Circle Maker is a mess. I admire Batterson's desire to pray boldly and love his call to more prayer, better prayer, more audacious prayer. Yet so much of what he teaches is sub-biblical, extra-biblical or just plain unbiblical. With hundreds of good books on prayer available to us there is absolutely no reason to spend as much as one minute or one dime on this one.
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252 of 286 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Either confusing or contradicting, not sure which, December 26, 2012
This book has been popular lately, and I was thankful that Zondervan sent me a copy to review. I always need encouragement in my prayer life, and this book certainly points us in that direction.

The basis of this book is a legend about a Jewish man named Honi. A few years B.C., Honi drew a circle and stayed in this circle praying for rain. He intended to remain in that circle until the rain came, which it did. The author draws a parallel from this legend that we can draw a circle around our dreams, concerns, hopes, etc. and stay there until our prayers are answered.

While reading this book I was both nodding my head in agreement and shaking my head with disagreement. I am all for praying big prayers and trusting God for answers, yet I do not agree that "If you keep drawing prayer circles, the answer is yes" (p. 43). Later on the author clarifies this point by stating, "No doesn't always mean no; sometimes no means not yet." This sounds too much like a 'name it and claim' routine which the author says this book is not about, "drawing prayer circles isn't some magic trick to get what you want from God" (p. 14). So I am confused about the purpose of a circle prayer.

I was reminded of The Prayer of Jabez while I was reading this book. Years ago that book inspired people to pray big prayers and trust God. Where the Jabez prayer is found in the Bible, the Honi legend is just that, a legend. I am having a hard time with the theology of this book especially since the basis of the book is a legend, not a Biblical truth.

Suffice it to say, this book did not inspire me. I really wanted it to, but it fell short.
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167 of 195 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "The Circle Maker", February 20, 2012
I read Mark Batterson's book, Soul Print, and I enjoyed it, so I welcomed the change to read and review his new book The Circle Maker.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears begins with the story of Honi the Circle Maker, a story recounted in the Talmud and other writings. The story is similar to that of Elijah and how he prayed for rain, except that Honi drew a circle and stepped into it and told God he would not move from it until God made it rain - and really rain - not just a drizzle (9-11).

He recounts the story of Mother Darby who told God if He would provide her husband with a church and a congregation, she would pray every morning at 9 AM, and if God would remove wickedness from her neighborhood, she would fast seventy-two hours a week for two years (31-32).

Batterson assures his readers that "you are only one prayer from a dream fulfilled, a promise kept, or a miracle performed" (13).

I agree with Batterson, God keeps His Promises, and God loves us to ask Him to fulfill His Promises in prayer. But I began to worry that Batterson was arguing that if we want anything all we need to do is give God an ultimatum. I was worried that this was a repackaged "name it and claim it."

Batterson says the first circle is to dream big. To ask God for things that are beyond our ability to accomplish. (He weaves the story of his ministry and God's answer to prayer and provision through the book.)

In chapter five, he gives the example of God's "gift" of quail to Israel in the wilderness. (I find it an ironic punishment, not a gift....)

Then he states that "the Almighty is moved by big dreams and bold prayers" (61). I want to ask Batterson if there are any parameters to this...

The second circle is to pray hard - to be like that persistent widow and not stop praying until you receive what you are praying for (81).

Batterson assures his readers that all of the promises throughout the Bible "have been transferred to us via Jesus Christ" (92). All of them???

God, Batterson argues, plays "chicken" with us until we have prayed long enough to satisfy God (and His sadism?) after which He will give us what we are praying for (109). God will give us whatever we want, if we just pray and work "hard enough" (112).

The third circle is to think long - your prayer may be answered in a later time - even in another generation (133).

(It's a minor point, but Batterson talks about our guardian angels on page 164, which are not to be found in Scripture.)

Is God Sovereign? "Destiny is not a mystery. For better or worse, your destiny is the result of your daily decisions and defining decisions" (168).

In chapter fifteen, Batterson writes about the power of making a goals list. (I have a goals list, but I don't believe my failure to achieve a goal is due to my not "catching" God in a prayer circle...)

Batterson repeatedly states that he is not arguing for "name it and claim it." I believe he is being honest when he says that, but I don't know what he is arguing for, then. The book, as I read it, argues that we can get anything we want if we give God and ultimatum, persist in prayer, and not give up even if it takes years or generations to get what we want.

I am saddened to say I found this a disturbing book. Despite Batterson's intent, I would urge you to stay away from this book. It is confusing at best and unbiblical at worst.

[I received this book free for review from [...]]
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170 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dream Big. Pray Hard. Think Long., December 13, 2011
Jeffrey E Ellis (Naperville, IL USA) - See all my reviews
THE CIRCLE MAKER by Mark Batterson is a book about prayer and faith which will encourage, challenge and motivate the believer. Lead pastor of National Community Church, Mark writes with insight and clarity about the importance of "dreaming big, praying hard and thinking long".

The story begins with Honi, a legendary Jewish figure from 1 BC, whose faith and prayer saved the generation before Jesus by calling upon the God of heaven and earth to provide rain in time of near- fatal drought. Honi drew a circle in the desert sand, took his place, and called upon God to let it rain. And rain it did!

Mark calls upon believers to pray big prayers and draw circles in holy desperation for more of God in our lives: for ourselves, our children and our communities. Those prayers, when mixed with faith, are seeds which bear fruit, even in the generations to come. He exhorts the believer to pray prayers which honor God's greatness, His Goodness, His omnipotence, His desire to answer as a loving Father. Draw circles around God's promises. They are for us. Pray them through and wait expectantly.

Praying hard is key: "Work like the outcome depends upon you and pray like the outcome depends upon God." "Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future...Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life."

Mark has a gift for speaking to this generation. No one connects with young people in more relevant or impactful ways than he does. For example, Mark writes, "Our most powerful prayers are hyperlinked to the promises of God." Suddenly, my Bible is underscored with hot links which we double-click by prayer. Who'd have thought?

This book is built upon faith. "Every prayer is a time capsule. You never know when or where or how God is going to answer it, but He will answer it. There is no expiration date, and there are no exceptions. God answers prayer. Period."

There are only a couple of Christian books I read time and again, next to my Bible: The Collected Works of Smith Wigglesworth and Pursuit of God by AW Tozer. The Circle Maker has been added to this company.

This book is a shout out to this generation to call upon God. Let it rain!
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87 of 101 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, June 16, 2012
This is a review of this book only, not a review of Mark Batterson, his ministry, his faith or his beliefs.
Having spent several years in a multi-level marketing program, I have read several self-help books that claim spiritual or biblical support but lack biblical integrity. This is the category where The Circle Maker fits well. It is, as Ruth Graham states in the front of the book, a "story" and can be inspirational to the reader. However, its internal contradictions, let alone scriptural contradictions and confusing scriptural references make it unfit as a tool for helping someone understand scripture or to reveal the character of God. I personally have been "inspired" by this book to work on my prayer life, something which I already knew I needed to do, but I would not use it as a guide to achieve that goal.
The book is built around a legend. Theology based on a legend has very shaky roots and is the source of many beliefs that are contradictory to Biblical Christianity; i.e. Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, etc. As a story book, the embellishments, extra-biblical and imaginary references could be tolerable. However, since it is billed as an instructional book on how to "claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities" (Pg. 14) it will tend to mislead readers, particularly new or ungrounded Christians, in their understanding of biblical truths. As such, I found this book to be quite disturbing.
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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time, January 7, 2013
This review is from: The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Paperback)
I must admit I tried very hard to like this book I even prayed in a circle a few times. The book was recommended to me by someone I hold in high esteem. When I began to read it, it had a story about "Honi" and a person named "Honi" mentioned throughout the book which I never heard of. I am no newbie Christian so this was a read flag for me because to me, it's not biblical. I felt like if God wanted me to know about "Honi" then he would be in the regular bible that I read and every other Christian reads. I am not a theologian but I stick to the bible. Throughout the book are bad Christian cliches and phrases I hear used in popular Christian songs. Scriptures highly twisted without any reference as to where they are in the bible though I am very familiar with scriptures. I almost completed this book but it was terribly bad and I just don't like to not finish a book but this was horrible and I dreaded reading it. I really cannot recommend this to anyone.
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70 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Experience is not normative., July 7, 2012
Bear in mind that the basic premise of this book is a supposed historical event (you can never argue with experiences). Problematically, history can never tell you what ought to be; history can only tell you what happened. Yet, author Mark Batterson bases his entire argument on what happened (experience) a generation before Jesus came, not what the Bible says ought to be (principle). Unfortunately, there is no Scripture Index--which is always telling in a book that is purportedly "Christian"--and I could find no reference to Matthew 6, which is a primary text of Jesus' teaching on prayer.

"The earth has circled the sun more than two thousand times since the day Honi drew his circle in the sand, but God is still looking for circle makers" (page 13). How he knows this is God's current activity Batterson does not say.

The author asserts that the failure to pray dream fulfilling and miraculous prayers is due to our not coming to terms with the truth that God is for us. However, the Apostle Paul asserts (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), that the conviction that God is for us is grounded in the atoning work of Christ, and he makes no mention of prayer in the context. Therefore, Batterson is, at best, guilty of synthetically interpreting (eisegesis - get a dictionary) Scripture.
Because God tells us to "redeem the time", I cannot suggest you read this book.
However, if you want to read a book that makes unfounded assertions, misrepresents God and and his Word, and lacks cogent argumentation, I highly recommend you read this volume. Otherwise, use it, page by page, for starting fires on cold winter mornings.

If you want to read a good book on prayer, find one that starts out citing Scripture and does so the entire way.
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86 of 102 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars far too much that is questionable at best, December 23, 2011
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It would be too much for this review to go into all of the things in this book that struck me as being at best questionable. I will instead focus on a few things that seem to be most serious.

First, there is the fact that the basic premise of the book is based on a myth. Consider these passages from the New Testament.

II Timothy 4:1-5
1I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the
living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the
word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all
longsuffering and teaching. 3For the time will come when they will not
endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves
teachers after their own lusts; 4and will turn away their ears from the
truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5But be thou sober in all things, suffer
hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry.

Titus 1
10For there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision,
11whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses,
teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. 12One of
themselves, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil
beasts, idle gluttons. 13This testimony is true. For which cause reprove
them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14not giving heed to
Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

Myths and fables are not things upon which biblical doctrine and practice should be based. While there may be reason to think that Honi was a real person, many of the stories about him seem to be made-up, such as the one about him sleeping for 70 years. And this one about him praying for rain also reads like a made-up story, in that it has him remonstrating with an incompetent god who just couldn't seem to get his rain right. The story exalts Honi while making God look clumsy and inept.

Batterson makes many claims in the book that, frankly, are not taught anywhere in Scripture, and even run contrary to what Scripture plainly teaches. For example, in the second chapter, he claims this...

Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. (Kindle Locations 82-83)

When I consider what the Bible teaches about prayer, though, I do not find such claims supported at all. In Jesus' model prayer, for example, there is the request for the provision of food for the day. In Acts 4, Peter and John and some others did pray for boldness, but it was for God to "enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness". Rather than the insatiable desire for more and bigger, which Batterson encourages throughout the book, in Scripture we are told "Godliness with contentment is great gain", and Paul refers to himself as one who has learned to be content in all situations.

Batterson stresses dreaming supposedly impossible dreams. But many people who do not pray to God have created large and grandiose places of religious worship, fulfilled life goals and dreams, done supposedly impossible things, acquired wealth and paid off debts, practiced charity and philanthropy, started up coffeehouses or other type of businesses, and basically done all the things Batterson claims are signs of God doing the impossible in his life and the lives of those he refers to or knows.

Receiving little if any mention in the book, though, is that there is an impossible thing that we can pray for God to do for us--we can pray in repentence for forgiveness for our sins, and ask God for mercy on us as sinners. God in Christ has died so that we through repentence and faith in Christ may be forgiven and be granted salvation.

One of Batterson's most annoying practices is to 'read into' the biblical stories his own ideas, rather then dealing with what the text itself says. For example, in chapter three, he reads into the account of the conquest of Jericho such things as this; "While the story doesn't explicitly mention the people taking up positions of prayer, I have no doubt that the Israelites were praying as they circled the city", and "The first glimpse of Jericho was both awe-inspiring and frightening. While wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the Israelites had never seen anything approximating the skyline of Jericho. The closer they got, the smaller they felt. They finally understood why the generation before them felt like grasshoppers and failed to enter the Promised Land because of fear". Later on, in writing about Daniel, he talks about him having a sleepless night in the lions den. But the biblical texts concerning those events say none of these things. God had commanded the people to keep silence as they walked around Jericho, and there is no hint in the text that people smaller as they got closer to the city--in fact, in Joshua 2, when the spies had returned from the city, they were confident that the Lord had delivered all the land into their hands, and the people of the land feared them. And in Daniel, while the account says that the king had a sleepless night, it says no such thing in regards to Daniel himself.

Chapter 5 is a complete mishandling of the account of God sending quail to the people of Israel. Batterson completely erases all mention of God's judgment in the account of this event in Numbers 11, and instead makes it seem like what he calls a 'food miracle'. But God sending them enough quail for a month was an act of judgment. He said they would get so much quail it would "come out of your nostrils and you will loathe it". Why did He do that? "Because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying 'Why did we ever leave Egypt?'"

The section of the book called "The First Circle--Dream Big" is, frankly, insulting. It was disturbing to read him writing stupidly about how bad reason and logic are, and how imagination is the pathway of prayer, and saying that somehow logic is contrary to faith. With such a low view of reason and sense, and such an unwarrantedly high view of imagination, is it any wonder that when he deals with biblical stories, he spends more time inserting his own imaginings rather than interpreting what the text is actually saying? It must be so much easier to imagine what Daniel or Joshua were supposedly feeling in certain situations, rather than correctly interpreting what the Bible says was happening.

Another disturbing part is in Chapter 14, where he tells about his church's attempts to buy an entire DC city block, and being stuck because the man who owned an auto shop on that block didn't want to sell. To quote the book, "I knew that the auto shop would be a thorn in the flesh if we didn't buy it, because it was an eyesore." Here is what Batterson writes about what he and others in the church did in regards to this auto shop. "I also felt like our entire staff needed to lay hands on this property, so we took a little field trip on September 15, 2010. As we laid hands on those cinder block walls, it was a genesis moment", "We circled that property so many times that I'm almost surprised the walls didn't fall down just like at Jericho". So, people from this church walked onto this business' property and prayed that the owner would sell? They literally walked around this auto shop's property? Was it not possible that this business owner sold simply to get away from the creepy church people trespassing on his property and walking around it all day long, or that maybe the creepy church people were driving customers off? Given the state of the economy in 2010, was it smart for this church to destroy a small business and caused those working there to lose their jobs? Batterson doesn't say that this auto shop was doing illegal or unethical things, only that it was on a city block the church had set it's sights on and did not meet his aesthetic approval. There's something bothersome about a church trying to spiritualize what seems like the hostile takeover of what seems to have been an honest and profitable business.

One last thing I want to deal with here is Batterson's claiming of biblical promises that are either not addressed to him, or not even promises at all. He claims, for example, that God transferred the promises in Joshua 1:3 to himself, but in context God was speaking to Joshua a promise concerning Joshua and the people of Israel over whom he had just become the leader. Batterson is far from the only one doing this, in fact Joshua 1:3 is regularly abused in such a way, but simply because people believe this promise applies to them doesn't mean it applies to them. God was clearly addressing a certain man at a certain place in a certain situation some time over 3,000 years ago, a promise about a particular land being given to a particular nation of people long ago. You weren't there, neither was I, nor was Batterson. God was not promising Batterson that all he had to do was to stroll around the city for it to be his, nor has he transferred that promise to him or anyone else alive today.

Given all of the questionable claims and statements, how poorly the author interprets Scripture, and how he makes logic an enemy of faith, I cannot recommend this book at all.
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109 of 132 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring. Controversial. Life-Changing., December 13, 2011
Mark Batterson is a interesting writer and a dynamic speaker. His five books have inspired readers, sparked controversy, and generated discussion. My guess is that The Circle Maker is going to do the same.

The Circle Maker will inspire readers.
The Circle Maker is a book about prayer. Books about prayer have a knack for packing conviction and sparking inspiration. They make me want to pray more and to pray better. The Circle Maker does just that. Mark's dream-big-pray-big message honors a big God, who delights in answering prayers.

The Circle Maker will spark controversy.
As much as it is inspirational, Circle Maker is also controversial. The controversy begins on the first page of chapter one, where Mark Batterson recounts the legend of Honi, a first-century mystic whose power in prayer saves the land from drought. Some have objected to the idea of "prayer circles," because they smack of paganism and superstition. After reading the book, it seems that Batterson is using "prayer circles" as a metaphor to describe the way someone prayers--prayers of specificity, audacity, and faith. Batterson is an evangelist for relentless, daring prayers.

I have some concerns with the book--a bit of sketchy exegesis here and there, a name-it-claim-it style of intercession, and a blurry line between dreams and prayers. I frankly discussed these concerns with Mark when I interviewed him on December 13, 2011, and I appreciate his genuine thoughtful answers to my questions. The interview will be broadcasted on

The Circle Maker will generate discussion.
If there's one thing I despise, it is people who criticize books without reading them, and who demean authors without having a conversation with them. If you have questions about The Circle Maker, read it. If you have a problem with Mark Batterson, drive up to D.C. and treat him to coffee at Ebenezers. The Circle Maker will generate discussion, and I hope that it is a discussion that brings glory to God and a revival of prayer among God's people
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