A precious new friend gave me a birthday gift the other evening after church. We walked down to her car where she had it, and when I opened the pretty bag I found a book. “Have you read that yet?” No! I had never even heard of it. “Well, after I read your blog post the other day about prayer, I thought you would like this book. ” On the front of the book are the words, “New York Times Bestseller The Circle Maker Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (by) Mark Batterson.
What a book!
I started reading it the next day and discovered that I was underlining…writing “WOW”…drawing :)…and putting !!!! beside more of the text than I wasn’t! How could I have gotten to this point in my life and been through all of the things that I have been through and Know God the way that I do…and NOT know how to pray? I have been learning over the past few years that God is good and that He hears us when we call out to Him. But prayer is so much more!
I am going to refer to quotes from this book over the next few weeks. During Lent many of my posts were about Relationships because I was reading Dave Early’s book about how to have meaningful, loving, Godly relationships. Now I want to share with you what I am learning about prayer. This is not an academic exercise…this is not a third-party re-telling of another person’s experience or beliefs. I KNOW these things to be true from my own experience. I can testify that God hears…ME! I knew that He heard my prayers when I prayed for other people…but God hears me when I talk to him about me too.
Let us begin. Mr. Batterson wants to make something clear ” Sure, you can apply some of the principles you learn in The Circle Maker and they may help you get what you want, but 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.” Literally drawing circles around your prayers…but what are we praying for…
“What dream does your life revolve around? …You’ve got to define the promises God wants you to stake claim to, the miracles God wants you to believe for, and the dreams God wants you to pursue.”
As Mark Batterson goes on to explain, “Now here’s the problem: most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We never circled any of God’s promises. We’ve never written down a list of goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. And our dreams are as nebulous as cumulus clouds. Instead of drawing circles, we draw blanks.”
What does God want for you? Does it seem too outrageous to pursue? Have you stopped listening to your inner self because what your heart and soul and SPIRIT long for seems too impractical…too silly…too huge for any one person to take on? Do your dreams involve fame and glory and riches for you…or when you stop and be still and listen to the voice that used to guide you, do you have a different dream? One that makes you happy and feel like you are contributing to good? What? Does it involve your family or a wish for a family? Does it involve a job or a profession or a calling? Do situations seem impossible… do people discourage you? If you could do anything or be anything or go anywhere what would that look like? Why would you be doing it…for you and you alone or for a greater purpose?
Is God telling you something…that He has put a dream in your heart…Don’t believe it when people tell you that your dreams are too big. Don’t believe the voice that gets in your head that wants to tell you that God can’t…or that God doesn’t want to. God can do anything and He wants nothing more than for us to believe. “God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less…there is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayer, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does. And the bigger the circle we draw, the better, because God gets more glory.”
God is not a show-off. He doesn’t prance around a grand stage to say, “Look at me! Aren’t I great?!?” He doesn’t have to because He IS GREAT! God does all of these wonderful things in our lives NOW…it isn’t history, it is our present. God does these things because we ask! Because when we ask and He answers it grows our faith in Him. It grows our belief. It becomes something so wonderful that we simply cannot keep it to ourselves AND THAT is what we are here for!!!!! To hear about God’s love…accept it…receive God into our lives…believe His promises…notice His blessings…Thank Him….talk to Him…listen to him…follow…speak what He tells us…go where he leads us. Trust that we will have everything that we need as we do what He is calling us to do.
And when we trust like that in big and small things…He believes in us…and trusts us with more! And when we invite Him to constantly walk beside us an amazing thing happens. First, we aren’t alone. I can see it, can’t you? I am walking through life with my God and Savior and I happen upon an old acquaintance and we say hello and make a little small talk and then, as it is polite to do, I turn to the person at my side who is my constant companion and make the formal introduction. I say, ” Dear Human Friend, I would love to introduce you to someone special to me. In fact, He is so important in my life that I don’t go anywhere without Him. He is my counselor and my teacher and my protector. We talk about where to go each day and what to do and He always helps me. Sometimes things get tight or tough, but He always works things out for us.”
I am not likely to say those words…but when I talk about the events of my life that can’t be explained…the rain that fell after weeks and weeks of terrible drought because I asked God to give us a soaking shower for our thirsty ground…and KNEW that He would… Or the tornadoes that did not come near to our town because I had walked around my yard and asked for God’s protection and I KNEW that He would keep us safe. Or the beautiful man who I asked for when I was twenty that I got after I was old enough to appreciate what a gift he would be. Or the friends that have been touchstones of faith and strength. Or the babies that I prayed for after losing two…”God, please bless my womb!” And I Knew that He would. And the house that is my own sanctuary…and with it a neighborhood and a community. And the church that is Pastored by an old friend and filled with new friends. And the reconciliations and redemptions and health miracles…I could go on and on and on about God’s protection and God’s provision…IN MY LIFE! This is not a wish list. These things and more have happened to me! And I have huge dreams. I must show God that I trust Him with all of my small things and medium-sized things and that I want the outcome for the RIGHT reasons…not my fame or glory but so that others will KNOW and BELIEVE in Him. I must tell others of His desire to perform blessings and miracles for them…FOR YOU!
What do you want? Is it small enough that you can accomplish it on your own? That is not what God has for you. What is your God-sized dream? Write it…write them down. Circle them. Around and around saying what you want and why. God wants to know that you know what you want. Then when you get it…you will know without a doubt how it came to be.
Your Will be done, God. Use me. Use us. Open our eyes that we can see clearly what You want for us…and make that what we want for us. And when it comes to pass in Your good time make us KNOW it was done because we wanted it and You willed it so that others would know You through our testimony of what wonderful things You have done and are doing and will continue to do.
Friends, don’t stop praying. God is not a fast food restaurant. We do not order it up and get it immediately…. Mostly it takes time because God is moving a lot of little pieces around to make certain the best outcome results for the most people. Blessings we receive are not just about us and for us. We receive so that we can share. So that our lives and the lives of others are not only touched, but CHANGED.
What do you want? Name it. Claim it. Pray for it…and PRAISE GOD for it because you have faith that God is making it happen already. Right now things are being put in place while we keep believing. Don’t give up your prayer just because it doesn’t happen in your time. Keep praying and believing. I am a testimony to the power of prayer. God WANTS good for all of us.
“God has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be exercised in response to prayer. Simply put, God won’t do it unless you pray for it. We have not because we ask not…The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.”
We don’t know when, where, or how God will answer our prayers but He will. So pray.
“We pray out of our ignorance, but God answers out of his omnipotence. God has the ability to answer the prayers we should have prayed but lacked the knowledge or ability to even ask.” Thank God.
God is not a genie in a bottle who pops up when we call to Him and says, “Your wish is my command!” God wants us to know Him…so that what we want and what He wants for us are in agreement. We have dreams and hopes and He is honored when we dream big! He is even more honored when we dream so big that the dream cannot be obtainable…unless He helps. If something happens that is just amazing, then we can justify and rationalize that we are great or that we got lucky. If something happens that is AMAZING!!! then we cannot take the credit or write it off as a coincidence or a fluke or something we did. God wants to give us AMAZING!!!!!!! things in our life so that there is NO DOUBT who had a hand in it!
Thank You. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Pray. Amen.