The Circle Maker

I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s new book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.

Overall this was a great read, another fine book by Mark Batterson, the Lead Pastor at National Community Church in Washington DC and author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase. The title refers to a legendary Jewish man named Honi, who brought rain in a devastating drought by standing inside a circle he had drawn on the ground and declaring to God that he would not move from the circle until God had sent abundant precipitation. Honi became known as the circle maker, the man whose prayer saved a generation.

Batterson’s premise is this: “Bold prayer honors God, and God honors bold prayers.” He continues: “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.” Batterson takes the rest of the book to describe what it looks like to pray boldly, challenging readers to become circle makers and giving numerous examples of prayer circles he has drawn in his ministry, his family, and his personal life. Some other memorable quotes:

  • “Raw dependence is the raw material out of which God performs His greatest miracles.”
  • “What if Jesus were to ask you, ‘What do you want me to do for you?'”
  • “Our generation desperately needs to rediscover the difference between praying for and praying through.”
  • “We should praise God for disappointment because it drives us to our knees.”
  • “We may be out of luck, but we’re not out of prayer.”
  • “In order to experience a miracle, you have to take a risk.”
  • “I learned that we shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God.”
  • “If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you.”
  • “God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. And while we’re on the topic, His grace is infinitely bigger than your biggest sin.”
  • “One of our fundamental misunderstandings of spiritual maturity is thinking that it should result in self-sufficiency. It’s the exact opposite. The goal isn’t independence; the goal is codependence on God.”

The Circle Maker challenged me to pray much bigger prayers, even for things I have not even dared hope for, much less verbalize. I was inspired by Batterson’s passion to follow Christ and by the bigness of his dreams.

My only quibble with this book stemmed from chapter 15, “Life Goal List.” In it, Batterson talks about his “Life List” of significant goals. Many of his desires are commendable: celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary; dedicate his great-grandchildren to the Lord; pastor one church for more than 40 years; build an orphanage in Ethiopia; live off 10 percent and give 90 percent of income by retirement. But while the rest of the book focused on God-given dreams, in my opinion too many of the items on Batterson’s Life List were typical self-serving, upper-class, entitled experiences: go skydiving; go cliff-jumping; go to a Super Bowl; run with the bulls in Pamplona. While a lot of these sound cool, they didn’t fit with the tone or purpose of the rest of the book. I have a hard time with the idea of drawing a prayer circle around the dream of taking a boat cruise down the Rhine River.

Take away this chapter or a big chunk of it, however, and the rest of the book is a worthy, spiritually challenging read. If you are not familiar with Batterson or his writing, The Circle Maker would be a good introduction.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Circle Maker

  1. Coincidentally, our staff team is also working through this book. Today, at our team meeting, we showed the first lesson in video format available from Zondervan (we also have the book). Our team discussion centered around prayer: asking boldly for what we need, as you note. I come out of a background where we thought so deeply and logically about God that we pretty much ruled out the miraculous and the divinely outrageous, so this is refreshing. It seems important, though, that the mission we adopt is clearly one of God lest we use God in magical ways ("if I pray enough, God will do this for me").

  2. Coincidentally, our staff team is also working through this book. Today, at our team meeting, we showed the first lesson in video format available from Zondervan (we also have the book). Our team discussion centered around prayer: asking boldly for what we need, as you note. I come out of a background where we thought so deeply and logically about God that we pretty much ruled out the miraculous and the divinely outrageous, so this is refreshing. It seems important, though, that the mission we adopt is clearly one of God lest we use God in magical ways (“if I pray enough, God will do this for me”).

  3. Very good The Circle Maker leader’s link piece of writing! I’m certainly especially captured by your
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  4. This leads me to the understanding that Christians shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The author seems to have a healthy balance of giving and enjoying life. Live and let live!

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