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      Book Review: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

      Last month, I shared that leaders are readers.  One of my goals for 2012 is to read more – at least one book per month.  This may not sound like a lot to many of you book worms out there, but I’m a slow, deliberate reader so this goal will be a challenge for me.

      The first book I finished this year is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  The Circle Maker is a book about prayer based on a Jewish man named Honi who lived during first century BC.  He was known for drawing circles in the ground where he would stand praying until he received an answer.  Batterson discovered Honi while reading a book about legends from this history of the Jewish people, and Honi’s story inspired Batterson to pray more deliberately and with more conviction.

      In The Circle Maker, Batterson relates the story of National Community Church (the church he started in Washington, DC) and the story of Honi to inspire readers to dream big, pray hard, think long, and to keep circling.  He also shares personal stories of how he has seen the power of prayer in his own life.

      When I started reading The Circle Maker, I quickly decided to use a blue pen to take notes in the margin and to underline key sentences and points in the book.  I highlighted many things that spoke to me, and I wrote in the margins questions and comments that came to mind as I read through the book.  I was inspired and motivated to pray bigger prayers.  I was challenged to be much more specific in my prayers.  And I was encouraged to keep praying even when the answer doesn’t come right away.

      This is the perfect book to read for starting the new year.  Here are a few ways that The Circle Maker stretched me:

      1.  I decided to start actively keeping a journal of my prayers.  Through Batterson’s encouragement, a prayer journal will help me keep a closer record of my prayers so I can stay in tune with how God answers my prayers.

      2.  I decided to be more deliberate in praying circles around my wife, my kids, my church, my town, my extended family, and my job.

      3.  I decided to be more intentional in dreaming big.  I am working on my Life Goal List (or Bucket List).  I’ll post this at some point, and I’m asking The Stretched Community to hold me accountable to this.

      So how can you be stretched by The Circle Maker?  Pick up a copy of it for yourself.  I’m actually going to give away a copy of The Circle Maker to the top commenter this month.  You could also head over to Mark Batterson’s blog and join in the 21 Days of Prayer.  I think they’re on Day Six, but it’s not too late for you to get plugged in on this challenge.  Finally, I’d recommend starting a prayer journal for yourself.  Start today dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long.

      How’s your prayer life?  How have you seen your big prayers answered?  What or who are you circling with prayer?