In this "Christian Living Nonfiction" (I suppose that's the name the book store assigned to the genre, please stop yawning - it's not that bad) Batterson maps out the story of Honi, a first-century BC Hebrew who drew a circle in the sand and refused to leave it until the Lord answered his prayer for rain. Not only rain, but a specific kind of rain. The author goes on to explain why this worked for Honi, and how it can be powerful for us more than two thousand years later. How, when we draw faith circles in our messy life-sand, we might as well expect good rain from a good God too.
If you've never read a Batterson book before, you're in for a treat. This well-read (I believe his goal is 100 books a year, or something over-the-top like that) pastor of a multi-site church in Washington DC has also written top-sellers such as In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, Primal, and Soulprint, among others. His writing is conversationally intelligent, and simplistically deep. [Alright, so I use a couple oxymora - read him and tell me I'm wrong.]
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this profound book about prayer:
The greatest risk is failing to circle the promises of God because we forfeit the miracles God wants to perform.
If you respond to His promptings, "this is crazy" will turn into "this is awesome." When you live in obedience, you position yourself for a blessing.
To the [I]nfinite, all finites are equal
"The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert - in anything." [Neurologist Daniel Levitin] ... Is prayer any different? It is a habit to be cultivated. It is a discipline to be developed. It is a skill to be practiced. And while I don't want to reduce praying hard to time logged, if you want to achieve mastery, it might take ten thousand hours. This I know for sure: the bigger the dream the harder you will have to pray.
I learned that we don't have to be afraid of the enemy's attacks. They are counterproductive when we counteract them with prayer. The more opposition we experience, the harder we have to pray, and the harder we have to pray, the more miracles God does.That one-liner in the middle is only one of about a hundred one-line quotables Batterson has. It's his talent and they'll get you thinking while you're reading, and then they'll get you repeating them to yourself as you're reading your Bible and going about your life experiences. "Yup - that's like Pastor Mark says ..."
In The Circle Maker he explores three crucial circles a devoted pray-er draws: Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Think Long. He details his own lessons about prayer, learned via personal trials, experiences, and victories, as well as those shared in the testimonies of others - both previous saints and present-day warriors. Numerous quotes from a plethora of famous and not-so-famous round out the author's perspective to form a lovely apple of prayer, ready for the partaking.
Happy Reading, and Faithful Praying!