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?