My July Book Recommendation is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.
I was given this book as a birthday gift and have truly loved it. Honestly, it is the best book I have ever read on prayer. When I read books, I like to underline parts that I like or quotes that I want to remember. As I read The Circle Maker, I feel like I was underlining almost the whole book! It was that good!
There are so many good nuggets and challenges in this book. Let me share with you 2-3 of my favorites:
The book begins with him explaining the legend of the circle maker. I will let you read it for yourself but he refers to drawing circles around our prayers from this story. He encourages us to draw a circle around the impossible situation in our lives and then invite God to intervene. He refers to the story of Jericho in the Bible where God asks Joshua and his people to circle the city once a day for 6 days and then on the seventh day to march around 7 times. Then God delivers on the promise and the walls come tumbling down. Mark says, “Drawing prayer circles begins with identifying your Jericho. You’ve got to define the promises God wants you to stake claim to, the miracle God wants you to believe for and the dreams God wants you to pursue.” He gives some examples and says, “Jericho is spelled many different ways. If you have cancer, it’s spelled healing. If your child is far from God, it’s spelled salvation. If your marriage is falling apart, it’s spelled reconciliation. If you have a vision beyond your resources, it’s spelled provision. But whatever it is, you have to spell it out.” So my question to you is what is your Jericho? What do you need to start circling in prayer? Who do you need to start circling in prayer?
Mark talks about how his Jericho is spelled 3 different ways- the names of his 3 kids. As a parent, I could totally relate to my Jericho being my kids. As I was reading this book, I thought about how I could put these ideas into action. As many of you know, I have a big black lab named Shadow that needs to be walked. I live right across from a park where I daily circle around it and walk my dog. I usually use this time to return phone calls or check email but this book has inspired me so much that I now use my walking Shadow time as my prayer circle time! Shadow and I circle the park at least 2 times so I can pray circles around each of my boys as well as myself and my family and friends. Mark says, “One of my responsibilities as a parent is not only circling my children in prayer but also teaching them to circle the promises of God.” He talks about how he prays scripture verses over his children. I got super excited about this because each of my boys picked a life verse when they were baptized. Kyle chose Proverbs 3:5-6 and Conor chose Philippians 4:6-7. So as I walk the park, not only to I pray over things going on in their life but I also pray their life verse over them. I pray that Kyle will “trust in the Lord with all his heart and lean not on his own understanding but in all his ways acknowledge him and God will make his paths straight.” I pray that Conor “will not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, he will present his requests to God so that the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard his heart and his mind in Christ Jesus.” When I had them pick their life verse years before at their baptism, I never thought about praying it over them. Again, this book is opening my eyes to so many cool things about prayer.
On a funny note, Shadow is only use to circling the park 1 or 2 times on his walks and the other day, I was praying circles and wanted to go a third time around and he was literally pulling me home because he was so tired. I was like come on Shadow- I have lots more to pray about!! I will be working on his endurance as I do my prayer circles!
Let me say that you don’t have to walk in a circle to pray circles around the people in your life. In the book, he talks about a parent who prays in each of his kid’s rooms. He also talks about keeping a prayer journal and writing out your prayers. I think I got the idea to physically walk in a circle because Mark is a Pastor in Washington DC and in the book, he talks about going on prayer walks around the city. His stories of how God provided different properties for his church are just amazing. Honestly, the stories in this book of how God answered prayers are inspiring and will ignite in you the desire to pray more, dream bigger and trust God than ever before. I was truly moved by this book!
Lastly, the book is divided into 3 sections: Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Think Long. In the Think Long section, he encourages you to make a life goal list. Now you might be thinking, how does setting goal have to do with prayer. Well this is what Mark says, “Goals are the cause and effect of praying hard. On the front end, prayer is a goal incubator. The more you pray, the more God sized goals you’ll be inspired to go after. But prayer doesn’t just inspire godly goals, it also ensures that you keep praying hard because it is the only way you’ll accomplish a God- sized goal. Simply put, prayers naturally turn into goals, and goals naturally turn into prayers. Goals give you a prayer target.” In this book, Mark goes into detail about how to set life goals with ten steps to goal setting, and he even shares his life goals with us in the book. I found this part of the book super helpful especially since my personality does not naturally dream big. It was hard for me but I started my life goal list! Again, what I love about this book is that it gives you very practical steps for each of the 3 sections: Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Think Long. Mark also shares lots of examples as well which are so helpful!
So who wants to start praying more boldly, more confidently and more specifically! Again, this book is life changing and I highly recommend it. I want to end with this quote for his book, “If you pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you, look out.”
God, help us all pray more audacious prayers! Help us pray circles around our loved ones, around our dreams and God sized goals that you have put in our hearts. We pray that you will ignite in us a desire to pray harder and leave behind a prayer legacy for our kids! In Jesus name, Amen!