The Circle Maker
I’ve read a lot of books on prayer over the years, but few have both encouraged and challenged me the way Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker has. While not a book on leadership, this is a book that every leader should read.
Obviously a book written by a practitioner, not a theorist, The Circle Maker is filled with insights that come from practice, as well as from pastoring people who are dealing with the real stuff of life as they are learning to pray. I’ve seen so many of these played out in the people I pastor! Here are just a few of the ones that struck me:
The importance of praying specifically: Often our prayers are so general, and so vague, that we have no idea if God has answered them or not. And, “we never know if the answers were the result of specific prayer or general coincidences that would have happened anyway”—so God doesn’t really receive the glory. And honestly, our faith that prayer makes a difference is actually undermined.
The importance of taking risks, and being willing to look foolish: You cannot build God’s reputation if you aren’t willing to risk yours. This is one of those truths I hate—I really don’t want to risk my reputation! But I have seen that that is the only way to position yourself for a miracle of any kind.
The blessings of God won’t just bless you; they will also complicate your life. Sin will complicate your life in negative ways. The blessings of God will complicate your life in positive ways. This is certainly true to my experience, but I think most of us aren’t clear on that. We somehow think God’s blessings should make our life easier—that it means everything will work out with no effort or stress on our part. And because we don’t understand that, we often miss out on giving thanks or even really embracing what God is doing. It’s a pernicious lie that the evidence of God’s favor is a stress-free, simple life.
One of the things that shows that this is written by a practitioner is the way unanswered prayers are addressed. “The hardest thing about praying hard is enduring unanswered prayers. If you don’t guard your heart, unresolved anger toward God can undermine faith.” I think every pastor has had to deal with people whose faith has been undermined because God didn’t answer their prayer, or answer it in the way they wanted. And then they became angry, or hurt, or cynical, and often turned away from God. It’s sad, but not uncommon.
As pastors we have to be able to deal with that—to give an answer, or a perspective, that makes sense and can help people over the hump.
I’m challenged to pray bigger prayers, and persist in them. What was your reaction to The Circle Maker? Share your thoughts—I’d love to hear them.
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Thank you for making the point, “You cannot build God’s reputation if you aren’t willing to risk yours.” Well said. I accept the challenge and of that kind of prayer lifestyle. To God be the glory!