Dave Courtney's Reviews > The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

it was amazing
Read from February 06 to April 09, 2012

In the spirit of "The Circle Maker", in every transitional point of my life God has been faithful in giving me an idea, a prayer, a verse a dream to act as a place to focus in the midst of the great unknown. What I find interesting is that this is the third book that I have picked up that has centered around the idea of praying big and praying bold and taking risk. Looking back I also have found a large part of a difficult piece of transition in my own life anchored in the story of Acts and the image of God's hand outstretched over not just the movement of the Gospel, but each individual story that is in turn affected by it. The realization that this includes my own life has been, for me at least, a game changer. I think I've known this intellectually, but it is often in the struggle that it comes real, and in a sense becomes a choice in whether and how one moves forward.

The Circle Maker is a book that caught me off guard. It doesn't seem like much, and in many ways I had almost written it off before I started reading it. But something pushed me to give it a try, and I am grateful I did. Not unlike the other books I've read recently, this one is coined by a pastor of a very successful Church movement, this one being in Washington with a Church that essentially saw a dream of turning movie theatres in to a Church and seeing a run down block adjacent to the White House rebuilt become realized. The book takes the story of how God moved through the Church and connects it with the inspiration of allowing ourselves to see the potential of this same movement in our lives.

Although I'm not sure what I was expecting from these pages, what struck me about Batterson was this mix of disciplined higher intellect and undisciplined dreamer. His own story is anchored in the story and inspiration of a man named Honi. It is a story taken from a book that chronicles the traditional legendary stories passed down from Jewish rabbi's in the Talmud and Midrash. It's a simple story of a true legend that changed the course of Batterson's life, specifically in the way that he prayed. And it is by changing the way he prayed that he found the grand scope of his own life opening up in to the realm of possibility. And it is here that he bridges the two worlds of the staunch intellect and the outward dreamer in a way that makes it difficult not to sit up and take attention. The stories that he has to share, although in a large part inwardly focused on his own Church movement, are impossible to deny. And really, it is reading these stories that causes one to wonder if it could in fact be true in our own life. The writer firmly believes, and would go to his grave proclaiming that it is not only possible but a sadly missed opportunity in so many lives when we refuse to pray the way that God has called us to.

Here is the sort of pray that Batterson preaches and practices. The kind of prayer that speaks in the already not yet formula, praying in the past tense for a future hope. The kind of prayer that makes no apologies for boldness, but also the kind of prayer that is anchored in the well worn path of discipline and hard work. The kind of prayer that is specific, targeted and intentioned. The kind of prayer that is persistent and consistent. The kind of prayer that takes hold of the promises that have already been given. He firmly believes that when we rise to this kind of challenge that the realm of possibility is endless, and he has endless stories to prove this. Stories of the undoubted supernatural hand of God at work. And this is where this book gets so exciting. It's not just theory but practical and equipping. It is anchored in three big ideas: Dream Big, Pray Hard and Think Long. And through these three big ideas we find the challenge of becoming aware, recognizing the risk, and being brave enough to enter in to the trenches. The promises of God are layed honestly and unapologetically on these pages, but not in a way that circumvents the struggle of the trenches. The book does very well in painting a very large picture of the realm of influence each of us is able to have, not only in the immediate but also through the ideas that sometimes God answers with different ideas, builds His prayers through future generations, and sometimes has a different idea than we have... but He is always working through the prayer of His people for His greater plan. But there is a truth the permeates all of this that suggests without a "Honi" type prayer life we lose immense opportunity for God to move and work in all of those ways that He desires to above. The trick is recognizing where our dreams coincide with His, and where there is opportunity for the miracles of prayer to show Him rather than us.

As the book winds up it's final chapters it gives the challenge of goal setting. I know that I have been inspired to dream big in my own life. I know that this book has inspired me to get in the trenches. And I am excited. Excited about the potential and the possibilities of becoming more intentional, more precise and more specific about my own life. I have recognized that it is fear that often keeps us from being bold enough to be specific, but yet the prayers and promises found in the words and people of the Bible could not be more specific. It speaks to real life, and it is in real life that God wants to work, not in some isolated world which is removed from the daily toil. A very welcome read for me, and I sense life changing.


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