Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson

"And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets."
Joshua 6:2-4

"And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench."
1 Kings 18:36-38

"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days."
Daniel 6:10

If you are reading this review at this moment in your life, there's a reason.  As Mark Batterson explains: "[W]e specifically prayed that God would get the book into the right hands at the right time" (58).  Given the circumstances under which we purchased and read the Circle Maker, we are confident the Lord has answered Mark Batterson's prayer.

We first heard of Mark Batterson when a member of his church posted this article to Facebook.  Having grown up in 1980's New York City, the Lord's specific power over a crack house always impressed.  Our pastor has plugged the book for a year.  We didn't read the book, however, until after the March 2014 primary.  Remember that detail.

The Circle Maker is a written sermon about prayer.  Batterson illustrates how bold, persistent, and specific prayer accomplishes miracles when accompanied by a tireless work ethic.  Batterson cites the March around Jericho, Elijah's prayer for rain, and Daniel's prayer for restoration as Biblical examples.  He recalls several episodes from his Church's testimony as examples.  The key is to mix prayer with action.

To summarize in five bullet points:

  • Pray Boldly -- Nothing honors God like a prayer so big only He can fill it. (45)
  • Pray Specifically -- A detailed prayer gives God greater opportunity to undeniably reveal Himself as the source of the blessing. 
  • Pray Persistently -- This is what trips most people up.  God works on His timeline, not ours.  Unfortunately, most people give up instead of praying through.
    • "God knows that if He provides too much too soon, we lose our spiritual hunger." (112)
    • "Praying through is long and boring...but very few of us are willing to love that long or pray that hard." (140)
    • "Prayer intensity is a product of prayer consistency." (151)
    • "Every breakthrough has a Genesis and a Revelation." (168)
      • Sometimes it's instant, sometimes it takes decades.
    • "One step at a time." (195)
  • Physical Location and Posture Matter -- We don't fully understand this one, but we concur with Batterson's Biblical examples and have experienced a similar phenomenon personally.
  • "Pray like it depends on God while working like it depends on you" -- Besides persistence, action is the other area where many fall short.  Usually, we need to act first (118).  But if you mix persistent prayer with persistent action, there's no limit to the miracles God will use you to accomplish.

A personal example: In 2012, the day after Barack Obama's re-election, we did major business with the Lord.  He was clear about where we were to stand.  One of those missions is to protect and strengthen Texas' economy.

Since then, our yearning for God to create an oasis of peace and prosperity in Texas amidst the coming global chaos has been our dominant prayer.  We've said countless prayers on this topic (including hundreds around Governor Perry alone).  We can only accomplish this objective with God.

That same desire for an oasis of peace and prosperity drives everything we do at the state level.  Due to our size, Texas has a unique potential to weather the coming global economic Cluster[REDACTED].  Unfortunately, big-ticket economic reforms don't pass themselves.  They require electing candidates to pass legislation.  Both the electoral and legislative processes are long and boring.

There have been plenty of setbacks.  The budget debacle of the 83rd legislature was heartbreaking.  John Cornyn stabbed Ted Cruz in the back.  But through it all, we persistently prayed and worked.  On primary day 2014, the Lord moved.

Like we stated above, we find it interesting that the Lord put a copy of The Circle Maker in our hand shortly after primary 2014.  Our experience in the trenches of Texas politics illustrates the principles Batterson discusses.  A prayer whose Genesis was November 7, 2012 had it's first Revelation on March 6, 2014.


As Batterson explains: "God answers prayer to bring glory to His name....[t]here is nothing God loves more than proving His faithfulness" (197).  In order for the Lord to move, however, we first need to ask for Him to prove it.  The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, is a robust presentation of the power of prayer mixed with action.

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