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The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears Audible – Unabridged

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,908 customer reviews

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By jdb VINE VOICE on April 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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't...at 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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3 Comments 334 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
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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