One of the ways God speaks to me to get my attention is through other people God has put in my life. Some years ago, a young pastors wife, Julie Vargas, who had been at one time on our staff, recommended to me a book entitled “The Circle Maker.” Actually, she ended up giving me a copy of the book written by Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C.
The circle maker is, in essence, a fresh way of approaching prayer and is subtitled ‘Praying Circles around your Biggest Dreams and your Greatest Fears.’
HONI – THE CIRCLE MAKER
It begins with the story of an eccentric sage named Honi, who lived outside the walls of Jerusalem in the first century BC when there was a severe drought in the land. With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi made a circular movement, methodically drawing a circle around himself. Then standing inside this circle, he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to heaven. “With the authority of the prophet Elijah, he called down rain, ‘Lord of the universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children.’ His prayer was resolute yet humble, confident yet meek, expectant yet unassuming.
Then raindrops began to fall with a sprinkle, but Honi was not satisfied with a sprinkle, ‘Not for such rain have I prayed but for rain that fills cisterns, pits and caverns. The sprinkle turned into a torrential downpour. Once more, he refined his bold request, ‘Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of your favor, blessing, and graciousness.’ And then it began to rain peacefully.'”
Batterson then uses the story of the armies of Israel circling around Jericho as a scriptural example of making a circle in prayer. Once each day for six days, and then on the seventh day, they circled it seven times. “Then he asks the question, ‘What is your Jericho? What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life evolve around?'”
He then goes on to describe three circles –
THE FIRST CIRCLE – DREAM BIG
As he points out, “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.”
“May you keep dreaming until the day you die.” What’s your dream? How big is it? Is it something you can’t accomplish without God?
So, dream big!
THE SECOND CIRCLE – PRAY HARD
Batterson recounts the story of the persistent widow and the Judge in the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8. He goes on to declare, “Praying hard is praying through. And if you pray through, God will come through. But it will be God’s will, God’s way. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and there is no more desperate act than praying hard. There comes a moment when you need to throw caution to the wind and draw a circle in the sand. There comes a moment when you need to defy protocol, drop to your knees and pray for the impossible. There comes a moment when you need to muster every ounce of faith you have and call down rain from heaven.”
So, pray hard!
THE THIRD CIRCLE – THINK LONG
Batterson uses the story of Daniel as an example of someone thinking long. “Now when Daniel learned the king had outlawed prayer, he went home to his upstairs room where the window opened toward Jerusalem. Three times he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God just as he had done before.” As Batterson notes, “Few people prayed with more consistency or intensity than Daniel, and what makes his persistence so remarkable is that he knew his dreams of rebuilding Jerusalem wouldn’t be fulfilled during his lifetime.” Daniel did just that. He never stopped dreaming big or praying hard because he was thinking long.
So, think long!
A FINAL STORY
Back in the difficult days of the Depression, a Hotelier named Conrad Hilton came across a photograph of the Waldrof Astorea in New York City. The Waldrof was the holy grail of hotels with two thousand rooms that made him dream – to own this hotel. Hilton clipped the photograph of the Waldrof and wrote across it, ‘The greatest of them all.’ Then he placed the photograph under the glass top of his desk. Every time Hilton sat down at his desk, his dream was staring him in the face.
Two decades came and went. Hilton acquired an impressive portfolio of hotels. Several attempts to purchase the hotel failed, but Hilton kept circling. Finally, in 1949 eighteen years later, he purchased the hotel. How did he do it? In the final section of Hilton’s autobiography, he provided the answers, “In the circle of successful living, prayer is the hub that holds the wheel together.” He held on to his dream for 18 years and saw a dream come true.
SO DREAM BIG, PRAY HARD, THINK LONG.
TO PURCHASE BOOK – Visit Mark Batterson’s website at thecirclemaker.com