“Have you heard about the new controversial bestseller, The Circle Maker? I finished it this weekend. While I was reading the book I had no idea of the controversy. I was actually shocked when I looked at other book reviews online today. I will tell you my opinion of the book and then address the controversy.
I thought this book was very well written, entertaining, and increased my faith in prayer. Mark Batterson encouraged me to pray big prayers and pray through. My prayer life has felt very stagnant lately. Sometimes I wonder if God is listening to my prayers. In the past I have received miraculous answers to my prayers, but I have not seen many miracles lately. After reading this book, I felt encouraged to not give up on God. I did not totally agree with everything that Mark said in his book, but that is the case with many books I read. We need to always examine books we read throught the lens of the word of God. Now I will explain the opposition and give my views on the controversy.
Many people did not like Mark’s illustration of the circle maker. This illustration was about a Jewish man named Honi, who lived during the 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament. During this time, Israel (I believe) was suffering from severe drought. Hone drew a circle in the sand and knelt down to pray. He asked the Lord to send rain, stating that he would not get up from the circle until rain had fallen. A light drizzle began to fall, but Honi was not satisfied. He prayed again because this was not the rain he had asked for. The rain was then a downpour, but Honi was not satisfied. He prayed for a gentle rain, which the Lord sent.
One of the criticisms to this story is that it is not found in the Bible, but the Talmud. I have no problems with this illustration. When I teach I use examples of answered prayer from missionaries and preachers of revival from the past. Even though these examples are not in the Bible, I am still encouraged by the faith of the saints. I believe that reading the biographies of Christians can help increase our faith.
The next criticism to this story is the use of the circle in the prayer. People say that witchcraft uses circles, so therefore it is wrong to use the circle in this illustration. As I read the book, I did not feel that Mark was telling everyone to literally draw a circle when you pray. He was using it as an illustration which means “stand on the promise” You have heard the old hymn “Standing on the Promises”? Well this is what Mark means by drawing a circle. George Mueller used to pray like this. He would find a promise in the word of God and then pray through until God answered his prayer.
Some people accused Mark of using promises in the Bible which don’t apply to us today. It always surprises me by people’s lack of faith. We can pray any promise in the Bible that we wish. God may not answer our prayer, but the promises are there. I even pray the promises that God made to Israel in the Old Testament. Romans says that these scriptures were written for our encouragement and hope.
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Romans 15:4.
No prayer is too big for God to answer. He may not answer it the way we want, but do not let skeptics discourage you from praying big prayers. The prayer that is not prayed will never get answered. We have to make sure that our prayers line up with scripture, but we have to believe that God can answer big prayers. If I was in a predicament where I needed waters parted, I would ask the Lord to part the waters. He might not answer me, but I will not know until I ask.
Many accused Mark of being a “name it and claim it” preacher in disguise. I can see how people would interpret this from the book, but I did not feel this was the case as I read the book. Mark has seen some miraculous answers to his prayers. He prayed big prayers, prayed through and God answered them. Many of us should pray for faith like this.
I personally do not prayer walk nor will I ever draw a circle in the sand and pray in it. I believe that God is everywhere so I can pray from my living room about China, Japan or any other country in the world. I do not physically have to be present for God to answer my prayers. If you decide to read this book, read it with your Berean antennas up. We should do this any time we read a book whether it is a Christian book or a secular book. If you would like to learn some of the Biblical guidelines for prayer, read my post”Does Prayer Really Work?“.
I encourage you to read this book. Decide for yourself what you think.
If you have read this book, please leave a comment below to let us know what you thought.