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The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears Paperback – December 9, 2012
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Would knowing that your prayers will be answered change the way you pray? In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark Batterson shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the Circle Maker, a believer who prayed miracles would happen to the people of God---and then they fell from the heavens like rain. Honi and Mark Batterson will help you bring your God-given dreams into being through bold, tenacious prayers that honor God and make the impossible come true.
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According to Pastor Mark Batterson in his book, The Circle Maker, 'Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn't just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It's a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.' Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing? It's time you learned from the legend of Honi the Circle Maker---a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and not budge from inside it until God answered his prayers for his people. What impossibly big dream is God calling you to draw a prayer circle around? Sharing inspiring stories from his own experiences as a circle maker, Mark Batterson will help you uncover your heart's deepest desires and God-given dreams and unleash them through the kind of audacious prayer that God delights to answer. (quoted from amazon.com)
In this book Batterson leads us through his experience with prayer by sharing stories. He begins with a legendary account of Honi - a Jewish mystic who prayed for rain during a time of severe drought. And apparently God heard his prayer. He drew a physical circle in the sand and prayed while kneeling in the circle:
"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."
(God answered with a light sprinkle of rain)
"Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits and caverns."
(God answered with a heavy downpour which caused flash flooding)
"Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of your favor, blessing, and graciousness."
(God answered with a steady rain)
This book extrapolates from Honi's story and attempts to teach the reader that we too can and should follow Honi's example. We too should resolve to pray audacious prayers; not leaving our "circle" until God answers us. We are taught to "circle God's promises" in prayer until God answers us.
The chapters of the book are laid out in this way:
►(Chap. 1) "The Legend of the Circle Maker" - Establishes an example for us to follow.
►(Chap. 2) "Circle Makers" - Exhorts us to become circle makers.
►(Chap. 3) "The Jericho Miracle" - Another example of circling in prayer.
►(Chap. 4) "Praying Through" - Exhorts us to persevere in prayer
Section Break: "The First Circle - Dream Big" - Exhorts us to "dream big" and not pray small prayers.
►(Chap. 5) "Cloudy With a Chance of Quail" - Example of circling in prayer.
►(Chap. 6) "You Can't Never Always Sometimes Tell" - Personal story of circling in prayer
►(Chap. 7) "The Solution to 10,000 Problems" - Challenges our view of God. Is God big or small?
Section Break: "The Second Circle - Pray Hard" - Exhorts us to pray hard with persistence
►(Chap. 8) "Persistence Quotient" - Example of the persistent widow with judge
►(Chap. 9) "The Favor of Him Who Dwells in the Burning Bush" - Exhorts us to seek God's favor so we may accomplish great things for God.
►(Chap. 10) "The Cattle on a Thousand Hills" - God provides for us from his unlimited storehouse
►(Chap. 11) "No Answer" - Deals with unanswered prayer (when God says No)
Section Break: "The Third Circle - Think Long" - Exhorts us to "think long" by setting goals and praying hard.
►(Chap. 12) "The Long and Boring" - Exhortation to persevere long in prayer if necessary
►(Chap. 13) "The Greatest of Them All" - We can accomplish anything with God's help.
►(Chap. 14) "The Speed of Prayer" - Our prayers are heard by God, but are hindered by Satan; that we need to keep on praying
►(Chap. 15) "Life Goal List" - Make a Life goal list and pray for God's blessing to accomplish these goals.
Section Break: "Keep Circling" - Keep on praying - keep on keeping on
►(Chap 16) "Double Miracle" - God can do big miracles through your prayers.
►(Chap. 17) "Bottled Prayer" - Prayers carry on after we are gone.
►(Chap. 18) "Now There Was One" - One person can make a difference through prayer
While there are some good things in this book, there are also some problems I see with it. Let me say right off the bat that I think Batterson obviously has a heart to pray and to help others to pray. This is definitely a good thing. Prayer is certainly something that has been a weak point in the church throughout history. There is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging believers to pray hard, pray long, persist in prayer, to exercise faith, etc.
That being said, I found some thoughts and examples in this book that I really felt were not biblically grounded. I will list some of them here.
1. The foundational story is legendary. Honi is not from scripture and should not be held up as an example for us to follow. A book on prayer ought to have a strong scriptural foundation. Stories are fine as illustrations, but not as the basis for doctrine.
2. While I realize that drawing a circle in prayer is meant to be metaphorical, it does have parallels in pagan practices, magic, and Wiccan practices. Keeping close to scripture is very important in this regard. We are exhorted to know the truth and to renew our minds in God's Word. Basing our practice of prayer on scripture is crucial.
3. The books treads awfully close to prosperity theology. While Batterson says in places that he is not espousing this kind of theology, the book tends to encourage this kind of mindset. He would have us make life goal lists and to ask God to help us fulfill that list. Keeping our motives pure and our focus on God becomes difficult by doing this.
4. Batterson draws inferences from biblical stories which are unwarranted. For example he uses the Jericho story to say that we too can circle our problems in prayer and see them crumble. This is a misuse of the text.
5. Batterson never exegetes Bible passages such as the Lord's prayer, Jesus prayer in Gethsemene, Paul's prayers for the churches etc. These stories are not foundational for his book. One would think that a book on prayer ought to examine these key passages and be built on that.
6. The book has a gimmicky feel to it. It seems like it promises a "new and improved" way of prayer in order to create hype. I don't think this matches the tenor or the biblical teaching on prayer.
In doing my research for this book, I came across some fairly negative reviews. Some I thought were good, others I thought went too far in their criticism. Nevertheless, before reading this book, I would recommend reading the positive and negative reviews of this book (for example on amazon.com) and thinking clearly about what this book is teaching. I urge caution and evaluation bases on biblical principles.
For the above reasons, I cannot recommend this book; I just have too many concerns. While I realize this is a popular book, we ought to fairly evaluate it before accepting it.
Some Links Evaluating This Book
(For these links see my blog)
Mark Batterson shares a perfect blend of biblical yet practical advice that will revolutionize your prayer life by giving you a new vocabulary and a new methodology. You'll see how prayer is your secret weapon. Through stories of parents just like you, Batterson shares five prayer circles that will not only help you pray for your kids, but also pray through your kids.
Batterson teaches about how to create prayer lists unique to your family, claim God-inspired promises for your children, turn your family circle into a prayer circle, and discover your child's life themes. And he not only tells you how, he illustrates why.
As Batterson says, "I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy like I did, but you can leave a legacy for generations to come. Your prayers have the power to shape the destiny of your children and your children's children. It's time to start circling."
About the Author:
Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as "one of America's 25 most innovative churches," NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark's blog ([...]) and webcast ([...]) also reach a virtual congregation around the world. Mark is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. You can follow Mark on Twitter: @markbatterson
Bathing your children in prayer is really the only answer you have to life's little problems and worries that seem to creep up from time to time. I have very real recollections of my mother discerning at her bedside for her entire family. Her tear soaked bedside a reminder of the prayers she sent heavenward. She was always standing in intercessory prayer for my sisters and me. That Christian woman, my momma, knew how to get things to look better for us. The answer to it all was to go to the Lord in prayer and cover her children.
I'm eternally grateful that God gave me a mother who was not afraid to stand in our place and kneel before him and bathe us in prayer. She was a terrific mom and seeing her do that time and again was a testament to me when raising my children. This will span generations which is exactly what Mark is trying to teach us. I have definitely followed by example by covering my children with the ultimate protection Jesus' blood. Mark Batterson has written a book that is the companion to his earlier book The Circle Maker. He tells you exactly how powerful prayer is and how this is the only thing you as a parent will be able to do to fight the evil that is ready to come after our children. He shows you that it is very important for you to cover them in prayer because the enemy.... is not far behind. For those of you that would like to purchase a copy of this book please go to this link.
**Disclosure** This book was provided to me for free through Zondervan Publishing for my honest review.
The following article is good, but honestly the Biblical problems I have with this book and 40 days are many more than mentioned. Please just don't follow anyone who comes up with a "new way" not found in the Bible. We want to be a people who follow Christ Jesus, let's pray like HE taught us.
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