My uncle reads (or used to read) 100 books in one year, but I, dear friends am not my uncle.
I’ve set a lofty goal for myself of reading a mere 20 books this year and I’ve finally finished the first one. Since it’s March, I’d better pick up some speed, huh?
I started this one a while back but as I do with so many books, I read half and then picked up another book, never bothering to finish it.
I found a lot of spiritual truth in “The Circle Maker” and I wanted to share some things that the author, Mark Batterson talked about which really resonated with me.
The whole premise of the book is wrapped around an ancient Hebrew legend of Honi, the circle maker:
Honi was a prophet in the first century, right before Jesus came on the scene. Jerusalem was suffering a severe drought- they hadn’t seen rain in over a year. Batterson points to the fact that “the last of the Jewish prophets had died off nearly four centuries before” and miracles were nowhere to be found. Then there was Honi.
Famous for being the only one willing to pray, Honi drew a circle in the sand vowing not to move from that circle until it rained buckets. And when I say buckets, think buckets the size of Noah’s Ark. Well it finally started raining, but this was not to Honi’s satisfaction. The dude claims “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits and caverns. So it rains larger-than-hail sized rain drops, threatening to flood the area. Honi prays again and the rain calms, showering the land in a gracious rainfall proportionate to God’s grace and favor.
It’s a pretty incredible story and the backbone for the rest of this piece of non-fiction. Batterson uses the incredible story of Honi the Circle Maker (which doesn’t end there, mind you) to cushion the events of his own stories of God’s faithfulness & provisions after long difficult prayers for his family and his church.
He tells of the growth of his own church in Washington D.C., once listed as one of America’s most 25 innovative churches, National Community Church. With 5 campuses it has a pretty big voice in the American Christian culture and beyond.
Though the stories in the book were incredible, the funniest thing about this book was the timing:
When I recieved this book, I was deep in the trenches of “the Worst Year” ( see my previous post) and I was really, truly struggling with believing that prayer was effective at all. I had reached a point where I didn’t think God cared about anything I was praying for. I had heard what I believed to be his voice in my life earlier in the year about some provisions that would be coming “soon.” That was in January. It was now September and those provisions were no where to be found.
A family member of mine had gotten sick and was the one person in our entire family who I never would have thought would have gotten cancer. I was mad at God and didn’t understand why he wasn’t answering any of my questions. I had completely given up on prayer.
…and then I got this book.
I hadn’t had a conversation with my sister about the place where I was spiritually…she just sent me this book. At first I really didn’t want to read it. But the more I read the back cover, I realized how weird her timing was in sending me the book. Actually…how incredibly on point her timing was in sending me the book. So I began to read.
Then something weird happened. I began praying again. I prayed that God would send me a friend who was insanely in love with him – someone who could help balance my life and draw me closer to him. Someone who was truly hungry for God and someone who lived in Los Angeles. Not even one month later, I met this new friend. God has answered my prayer in a matter of a couple of weeks!
Then something even weirder happened. While I was home for Thanksgiving, this new friend texted me asking if I had heard of or read “The Circle Maker.” I was standing in the kitchen next to my mom as we were baking pies and I literally laughed out loud. I could not believe this.
It wouldn’t be so strange if the book had just come out – but this book was published in 2011.
Come to find out, this new friend was actually planning to go and visit National Community Church in a few months as she’s thinking of possibly moving there. I was actually in shock.
Not only this, but suddenly, my grandmothers chemo treatments completely stopped and she began radiation. Things were looking up for her and I didn’t even realize that God was answering that prayer as well.
As I continued reading the book, there’s this part where Batterson mentions he and a team of prayer warriors prayed for EVERY PERSON who would EVER READ this book! The things he began listing about their prayers were suddenly insanely relevant in my life and I paused, thinking “okay, God. I get it. You’re there. You’ve heard my prayers. And not only that but you’re responding to them!”
His three main points in the book are:
- Dream big – you never know How big God is or what He’s willing to make happen for his people until you ask. The bigger the prayer, the more glory He receives when you see it come through.
- Pray Hard – anyone can pray a lengthy prayer- it’s praying THROUGH the prayer that counts. You must keep track of it and mark the progress of that prayer noting how God might be answering it even now. And if you don’t see any fruit from it, talk to others. I fasted for a day during that difficult time and immediately told a friend how it did absolutely nothing. That friend let me talk for a long while, finally stopping to point out all of the blessings that were hidden in the many complaints I had just listed. God is always at work- sometimes you just have to talk to the right person to see it.
- Think Long – sometimes the answer doesn’t come and this, as we all know, is very difficult. The wall coming down in Jericho was an answer to a 400+ year old prayer. Batterson also talks about the timing of prayers. Sometimes we wait a very very very VERY long time for God to give us the answer we want at the time we want it. He also talks about an awesome lesson he’s learned – if God gave us half the things we asked for at the time we asked for them, we would mismanage the blessings. Mark explains how he learned this lesson the hard way as well.
Needless to say, I DEFINITELY recommend this book. If you decide to read it, take note of things happening in your life and the prayers that are being answered. Then let me know what’s happened! It’s incredibly encouraging to hear these uplifting stories as people read this book. 🙂 Happy reading and may your journey with God be enriched and your faith be renewed.
As Mark Batterson mentions in the book, “you can’t never always sometimes tell what God’s gonna do.”