What’s on your reading list?

It’s totally unfair.  My husband reads fast and retains everything.  AND actually applies what he learns.  I, on the other hand, read at the speed of an endless Minnesota winter and struggle to retain a fraction of what I read, never mind actually applying it.  I’m in the loser bluebird reading group.  However, there are some books that I’ve read recently that have been impactful and so relevant that it’s been hard NOT to apply what I’m reading.  Here are a few.

I highly recommend all of them, but today I want to write about another one that’s not in that pile.  I received an advance copy of Mark Batterson’s new book, The Circle Maker, which will be out December 12th.  I’ve found this book to be challenging, encouraging, and uncomfortable in the best way possible.

If I had to name one thing I struggle with the most in living out my faith, it would be landing on the “right” way to view prayer.  I am inspired by those who dream big dreams and pray audacious prayers, but I am repulsed by those who seem to have more confidence in their specific prayer, than in the God they are praying to.  I’m paranoid about my prayers being more about me than God.  This book is both challenging and encouraging in that regard.  Batterson, using Joshua’s march around Jericho (in addition to a legend and other biblical accounts), writes about “praying circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears.”  Mark himself prays huge petitions of faith, but is authentic in sharing the lessons he’s learned when God hasn’t responded as he might have liked.

This book is chock full of insights and examples that are catalytic. One of the images I love in Circle Maker is that of the hyperlink.                                                                          “Our most powerful prayers are hyperlinked to the promises of God.  When you know you are praying the promises of God, you can pray with holy confidence.  It’s the difference between praying on thin ice and praying on solid ground.  It’s the difference  between praying tentatively and praying tenaciously.”

A few other quotes to whet your appetite:

“Prayer is the alpha and omega of planning.  Don’t just brainstorm; praystorm.”

“If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you.  There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go…by resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”

“We allow our circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances.”

Batterson is NOT writing about a “name it and claim it” theology, but he challenges me through these words: “Nothing honors God more than a big dream that is way beyond our ability to accomplish.  Why?  Because there is no way we can take credit for it.  And nothing is better for our spiritual development than a big dream because it keeps us on our knees in raw dependence on God.  Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn’t just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God; it’s a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.”

In reading this book I am convicted that too often I pray safe prayers that allow me to “help” God out in case He doesn’t come through.  So, I’m reflecting on the riskier prayer circles God might have me draw.

I think this book is so good that I’m going to do a drawing for a free copy of The Circle Maker.  The names of everyone who posts a comment on this post before Tuesday night at midnight will be put in a hat for a random drawing.

How does this land on you?  Is prayer a challenge for you?  What’s one word that represents what you would like to circle in prayer?

11 Comments

  1. “If you seek God the answers will find you” . . . that is what I desire most when I pray . . . that my prayers and Jesus’ intercession on my behalf will encircle us . . . me and God. Mostly . . . I am letting go of answers. 😉 Sounds like an interesting book Laura.

  2. I typed mostly I am letting go of answers. Don’t know what happened to “mostly” . . . wouldn’t be fair if that were dropped. 🙂

  3. I find it daunting to read books on faith….then I am accountable to what I am reading! Also, like Laura, I do not retain a lot of what I read….it’s frustrating!

  4. ‘We allow our circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances.” Ouch … this resonated with me. I love the premise of this book … and am constatly challenged by how to pray, what to pray and looking for the answer I think should be there instead of truly resting in the God of the universe and his love for me …
    Good start to my Monday morning!

  5. I love these quotes!
    “We allow our circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances.”
    “If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you. There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go…by resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”
    It really puts God in the center of the answer and changes our persepective. Really insightful.
    thanks for sharing this Laura!

  6. Thanks for sharing this Laura. I love the idea of prayerstorm similar to brainstorm such an important and yet challenging task. I am really challenged by these words. I have just read Soul print by Batterson as well and love it. I highly recommend this book as well. It is such thought provoking information. Prayer is a challenge for me.. sometimes feels like a list that I am checking off and something I should or or at times feels like I am talking to a wall. However, prayer is my pathway to God. I would love to circle in prayer the word surrender… surrendering my messed up broken life to Him! Let go and let God!

  7. Oh Laura, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love your posts. You have such a warm and deep and loving and humorous and kind way of experiencing and sharing the joys and tribulations of life and walking daily with our Lord. I find my heart drawing so much closer to God through your words. Thank you, thank you. As I slog through these often too painful and dark days, you have been my touchstone and day brightener.
    Now, for books that I love: “Traveling Light”. Anything by Max Lucado, especially “Mocha with Max”. Gladys Taber and her Stillmeadow/Still Cove books. Susan Branch’s blog. “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” by I can’t recall. “The Blue Jay’s Dance” another author I can’t recall. Rosamunde Pilcher’s books. I am drawing a blank (oh dear, that really seems to be a theme with me these days), I know there are so many more. But, my all-time favorite and one I reread every year- “A Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh! As I prepare to say good-bye to my heart’s dream with this little Naples home I have been remodeling for 3 1/2 years, I am rereading it now.

    • Carol, thanks so much for your kind words and all the great book recommendations – I look forward to checking them out! I want to hear more of what’s been happening in Naples.

      • Hi Laura! I would love to chat with you about Naples and get your thoughts and insights into this time of trial and growth, sadness and struggle and now letting go. I desperately want to process where God was and is in all of this and, most importantly, how I can learn from this time and come back home more loving, more strong, much more committed to walking everyday with my hand firmly tucked inside God’s.

  8. YAY, I have company in the loser bluebird reading group! 🙂
    Wow, this post led me to some immediate praystorming (love that part). The one word that comes to my mind first around prayer is ‘listening’. I’m comfortable with praying big prayers and talking to God about big things but where I struggle is in the listening…like REALLY listening with an open heart to what God desires for me. I am constantly reminded that I need to put my own agenda aside and just listen. And to start listening to what makes me feel uncomfortable (taking risks) instead of just listening to what is already so very comfortable.
    Laura – thank you for your wonderful words in this post. They leave me feeling humbled and inspired!

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