The Circle Maker is a call to action. A call to prayer, specifically. After reading this book, my first response was spiritual: I knew I needed to pray more. Through the mediums of spiritual truth, historical examples, and personal experiences, Mark Batterson is relentless in his pursuit to inspire you to pray.
And not just pray; pray big. Pray God-sized prayers. I’ve read books before on prayer, about the need, the necessity, or even step-by-step methods on prayer. Batterson’s aim first and foremost is simple: he wants to inspire you to pray. He wants to stir up your spirit, break through your lethargy, and drive you to your knees in prayer. In that regard, he is successful. More than simply sharing familiar Bible stories on prayer, he shares well researched historical examples of prayer.
Yet Batterson’s greatest argument for prayer is the example of his own life. Through story after story, miracle after miracle, it’s impossible for him not to believe in a miracle-providing God, and it’s hard for the reader to as well. What makes The Circle Maker so effective as motivation is that it comes out of a place of personal passion and conviction for him. It’s difficult not to get swept up in his passion for prayer and his vision of the greatness of God.
The title “Circle Maker” comes from the Jewish legend of Honi the Circle Maker. A century before Christ, Israel suffered a calamitous year-long drought that affected the well-being of the entire nation. On that fateful day, a man of faith and determination took his six-foot staff and drew a circle in the dirt around him. When he was finished, he called to heaven and prayed: “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” (12). And the rain came. As Batterson writes, “It had been difficult to believe the day before the day.” The day after the day, it was impossible not to believe” (13).
The “Circle Maker” is a beautiful metaphor that captures the determination and faith necessary to see God move in mighty ways. Too many times our prayers are self-centered, sporadic, and anemic. Way pray only for ourselves, not for God’s glory or the good of others. We sporadically, perhaps only at meals, as if God only cares about us getting enough to eat. And we pray anemically. We pray for things that we know will already happen. We pray for weak things, small things. God has more power than simply blessing a meal, helping on a test, or keeping someone safe on a car ride.
Somehow, someway, God has tied his power and supernatural intervention to the prayers of his saints. So, if we want to see God move mightily, to perform miracles and transform lives, we need to have the faith and determination of Honi the Circle Maker. The layout of the book draws three circles, three different aspects of prayer that are critical for us to understand:
- Dream Big – If we’re going to see miracles, we need to expect miracles. We need to believe in the greatness and the power of God.
- Pray Hard – Prayer is about persistence. If prayer was easy, then everyone would be doing it successfully. Circle-Making prayers are prayers that don’t give up, even if we don’t see immediate results.
- Think Long – To see the full answer to our prayers, we need to view life from the lens of eternity. Prayer doesn’t change God so much as it changes us and how we view life. Prayer brings our perspective on life in alignment with God’s.
1. This book drove me to my knees in prayer. This book did exactly what I needed it to do. It drove me to my knees in prayer. I was inspired by the God who answers big prayers, and by the believers with the faith to pray big prayers. One of my Personal Growth Goals in 2013 is to spend a solid week (168 hours) on my knees (literally) in prayer. This is far above and beyond what I do currently. I want to pray more. I need to pray more.
2. I don’t see the miracles in this book in my own life. Is it because I don’t see the prayers in this book being prayed in my life? I have a confession to make: I don’t pray like I should. I know since I’m a pastor I probably ought to see miracles happen in my life regularly, but I don’t. I constantly see God’s blessing on my life, but I don’t experience the miracles. I believe it’s because my faith is too small. My persistence in prayer is too weak. I aim to change that.
3. There is so much more that God wants to do for us than we give him credit for. We live like God only wants us to ‘get by’ in life. One of the greatest values in this book is that it helps us escape our prison of normalcy and catch a glimpse of a grand life that God wants for all of us. We can get so used to simply surviving in life that we forget that God wants us to thrive.
4. “Circle-Making” Prayer must become a staple in anyone’s life for them to be used mightily by God. The next movement of God will be birthed by prayer. If you want God to use your life in mighty and miraculous ways, dream bigger, pray harder, and think longer. Let everyone else live a pedestrian life. Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you.