Book Review: The Circle Maker

Many of my recent blogs revolve around fulfillment, optimizing life, or success. I’ve recommended lifestyle upgrades and attitude adjustments to prepare the way. While these offer significant guidance, another resource eclipses their importance. A successful life’s journey depends on walking with the Master of the road.
Spirituality leaps outside the mainstream articles on achievement. Business and self-help books often focus on goal setting, networking, or time management. Such accouterments dress us for catching the trends, but following the advice of the masses might leave us short of fulfilling our dreams. The longevity of market blessings has its limits. Our souls yearn for a purpose outlasting the expiration of our dust-sculpted bodies. Enduring success transcends the world’s sagacity and reaches beyond our own lives.
I’m a huge Jesus fan, and He excels at accomplishing miracles outside our common expectations. A life based on Him secures us on a path for a different brand of success. Christian faith draws us out of norms and stretches us to live bigger, for things that matter. According to Mark Batterson, sometimes a purposeful step outside the box means getting inside a circle.
Hundreds of books line the shelves of my study, but this week’s recommended read is one of my favorites. The Circle Maker challenges readers to pray “circles around their biggest dreams and greatest fears.” We open to the ancient story of Honi, a sage in first century Jerusalem who prayed relentlessly for his people. He drew a circle in the dust and dropped to his knees. Honi’s voice rang out into the desert air, “resolute yet humble, confident yet meek, expectant yet unassuming.” Though he could not presume God would heed his request, he resolved to plead with all his heart and soul. Answers fell in raindrops of varied sizes. “And they didn’t just soak the skin, they soaked the spirit with faith.” Honi knew his prayer had not summoned the Lord to grant wishes. The Lord chose to respond to the humble soul who revered His nature and dared to risk his reputation, to invest time and emotional energy, and plead with all his heart.
Batterson challenges readers to commit themselves to Honi’s kind of faith-soaking prayer. With purpose. With fervor. And without giving up.
The Circle Maker encourages readers to dream big, pray hard, and think long in its first three sections. Critics assume the book relates a Santa-like view of God, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The second chapter clarifies, “getting what you want isn’t the goal; the goal is glorifying God by drawing circles around the promises, miracles, and dreams He wants for you.” Chapter four addresses the issue of unanswered prayer, noting, “If we respond the right way, disappointment can actually restore our prayer rhythm and resurrect our dreams.” Batterson also removes humanistic power from the equation in the sixth chapter, noting “If you want God to surprise you, you have to give up control.” When blessings shower our lives, the final section charges us to keep circling.
The author’s experience grounds the suggestions in real-world evidence. He relates his struggles nurturing growth in unconventional church sites and the remarkable story of purchasing a crack-house in Washington D.C. and converting it into a cafe to support missions. I underscored too many quotes to list, but feel compelled to share a sample of the book’s wisdom nuggets.
“Prayer and imagination are directly proportional: the more you pray, the bigger your imagination becomes because the Holy Spirit supersizes it with God-sized dreams.”
“Our biggest problem is our small view of God.”
“God wants to bless you far more than you want to be blessed.”
“The only way you can fail is if you stop praying. Prayer is a no-lose proposition.”
“Praying hard is praying when it’s hard to pray.”
I’ve recommended The Circle Maker to pastors, family, and friends. Some doubted my exuberant review. Until they read the book. Each person who read Batterson’s book became an avid proponent. At least two pastors immediately planned a study at their church. Worth more than a casual thumbs up, this treasure compels me to share its wisdom.
I’d love to hear your favorite quotes from The Circle Maker. Check it out on Amazon or on Mark Batterson’s website. I look forward to hearing what you think.
What circles will you pray this year?
Be Encouraged,

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