Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: The Circle Maker - Highly Recommend

My first introduction to Mark Batterson was in his book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, reviewed by me here. The title alone intrigued me and the book, about David's bodyguard who valiantly fought a lion in a pit, made quite an impression on me. I finished the book wanting to discover what pit and lion the Lord had in mind for me to face. Now, Batterson has done it again, with his book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.

Drawing on inspiration from a Jewish legend about a man named Honi who drew a circle in the sand and prayed a bold prayer for rain, declaring he wouldn't leave the circle until his request was answered, Batterson urges readers to be circle makers in their prayer life. He declares that "who you become is determined by how you pray." He boldly asserts that this book will "show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities." He promises that "God will honor your bold prayers because your bold prayers honor God."

I was hesitant, at first, because I worried the book would espouse some magical trick used to force God to give you what you want, a "name it, claim it" kind of theology. I was afraid it would be focused on what we receive rather than on who we receive it from. I am happy to say that this book is firmly centered on prayer and encouraging readers to make the most of their prayer life by "working like it depends on us and praying like it depends on God." It emphasizes a big God who has big plans and all the power to carry them out. We just get to go along for the ride and watch God go!

Batterson starts with the essential truth that "100 percent of the prayers I don't pray won't get answered." He talks about spiritual priming, by telling the tale of a New York psychologist who did a priming experiment on students by introducing rude words versus polite words in a script, then requiring the students to go down to see someone who is strategically involved in elaborate conversation with an actor. "82 percent of those primed with polite words never interrupted at all." This "testifies to the fact that we had better be good stewards of the things we allow into our visual and auditory cortices.... starting the day with God's Word ... primes our hearts." I had to read that passage aloud to Trevor because I'm always encouraging him to consider the adage "garbage in, garbage out," when he is wanting to claim that hearing bad words won't influence him to say bad words.

Here were a few more note-worthy quotes from the book:

"Like the sound barrier, there's a faith barrier. If you allow them to, your disappointments will create drag. If you allow them to, your doubts will nosedive your dreams. But if you pray through, God will come through and you'll experience a supernatural breakthrough."

"The Aramaic word for prayer means 'to set a trap.' Prayer is the way we take thoughts and dreams and ideas captive."

"Sometimes we act as though God is surprised by the things that surprise us, but by definition, the Omniscient One cannot be surprised. God is always a step ahead, even when we feel like He's a step behind. He's always got a holy surprise up His sovereign sleeve."

"Drawing prayer circles is nothing more than laying our requests before God and waiting expectantly. If walking in circles helps you pray with more consistency and intensity, then make yourself dizzy; if not, then find something, find anything, that helps you pray through."

His firm advice is to "Dream big. Pray hard. Think long." This is a very inspirational book about prayer. It was such a needed encouragement to my soul. I hope that I take the lessons learned in this book and apply them to my prayer life. I hope that my prayer life grows by leaps and bounds and that I will dream big, praying to a big God.

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