I just finished reading for the 4th time “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson, so this synopsis is one that comes easy for me, and is very refreshing. The Circle Maker, is a book on prayer. Mark challenges us to persist in praying bigger and more specific prayers. It's a book I think every leader/person should read. It's a practical book, filled with insights from someone who is a practitioner, not just a theorist. Enjoy!
Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. 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. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron ax head, and God is moved to omnipotent action.
Drawing prayer circles starts with identifying your Jericho. You’ve got to define the promises God wants to stake claim to, the miracles God wants you to believe for, and the dreams God wants you to pursue. Then you need to keep circling until God gives you what He wants and He wills. That’s the goal. Now here’s the problem: Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We’ve never circled any of God’s promises. We never written down a list of life goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. And our dreams are nebulous as cumulus clouds. Instead of circles, we draw blanks.
Our generation desperately needs to rediscover the difference between praying for and praying through. Praying through is all about consistency. It’s circling Jericho so many times it makes you dizzy. Like the story Jesus told about the persistent widow who drove the judge crazy with her relentless requests, praying through won’t take no for an answer. Circle makers know that it’s always too soon to quit praying because you never know when the wall is about to fall. You are always only one prayer away from a miracle.
If you’re like me, you tend to use bigger words for bigger requests. You pull out your best vocabulary words for your biggest prayers, as if God’s answer depends on the correct combination of words. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how long or how loud you pray; it comes down to your answer to the question God asks. Is there a limit to my power? With God, it’s never an issue of “Can He?” It’s only a question of “Will He?” And while you don’t always know if He will, you know He can. And because you know He can, you can pray with holy confidence.
Sometimes when you hear answers to prayer that others have experienced, it can be discouraging instead of encouraging because you wonder why God has answered their prayers but not yours. But let me remind you that these answers have rarely happened as quickly or easily as they sound. There is usually a backstory. So we are quick to celebrate the answer to prayer, but the answer probably didn’t come quickly. I’ve never met a person who didn’t experience some big disappointments on the way to his or her big dream.
Sometimes the power of prayer is the power to carry on. It doesn’t always change your circumstances, but it gives you the strength to walk through them. When you pray through, the burden is taken off of your shoulders and put on the shoulders of Him who carried the cross to Calvary.
What I’m about to share has the power to revolutionize the way you pray and the way you read the Bible. We often view prayer and Scripture reading as two distinct spiritual disciplines without much overlap, but what if they were meant to be hyperlinked? What if reading became a form of praying and praying became a form of reading?
One of the primary reasons we don’t pray through is because we run out of things to say. Our lack of persistence is really a lack of conversation pieces. Like an awkward conversation, we don’t know what to say. Or like a conversation on its last leg, we run out of things to talk about. That’s when our prayers turn into a bunch of overused and misapplied clichés. So instead of praying hard about a big dream, we’re left with small talk. Our prayers are as meaningless as a conversation about the weather. The solution? Pray through the Bible.
Prayer was never meant to be a monologue; it was meant to be a dialogue. Think of Scripture as God’s part of the script; prayer is our part. Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response. The paradigm shift happens when you realize that the Bible wasn’t meant to be read through; the Bible was meant to be prayed through. And if you pray through it, you’ll never run out of things to talk about.
The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. And while reading is reactive, prayer is proactive. Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you. As you pray, the Holy Spirit will quicken certain promises to your spirit. It’s very difficult to predict what and when and where and how, but over time, the promises of God will become your promises. Then you need to circle those promises, both figuratively and literally. I never read without a pen so that I can underline, asterisk, and circle. I literally circle the promises in my Bible. Then I do it figuratively by circling them in prayer.
Praying hard is hard because you can’t just pray like it depends on God; you also have to work like it depends on you. You can’t just be willing to pray about it; you also have to be willing to do something about it. And this is where many of us get stuck spiritually. We’re willing to pray right up to the point of discomfort, but no further. We’re willing to pray right up to the point of inconvenience, but no further. Praying hard is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but that is when you know you’re getting close to a miracle!
Until recently, I wanted God to answer every prayer ASAP. That is no longer my agenda. I don’t want easy answers or quick answers because I have a tendency to mishandle the blessings that come too easily or too quickly. I take the credit or take them for granted. So now I pray that it will take long enough and be hard enough for God to receive all of the glory. I’m not looking for the path of least resistance; I’m looking for the path of greatest glory. And that requires high-degree-of- difficulty prayers and lots of circling.
Very rarely does our first prayer request hit the bull’s-eye of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. Most prayer requests have to be refined. One of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren’t answered as quickly or easily as we would like, we get tired of circling. Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes. Keep circling!
God collects our prayers. Each one is precious to Him. Each one is sealed by God. And you never know when He’s going to uncork an answer.
Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/2o6pBs6