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Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Draw the Circle" (Mark Batterson)

TITLE: Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge
AUTHOR: Mark Batterson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012, (240 pages).

This is a 40-Day Prayer exercise to help readers and Christians to cultivate a more intentional and deeper devotional walk with God. Based on a best-selling book, "The Circle Maker," this book draws out selections and places them in 40 brief chapters for quiet reflection, meditation, and focus on God. Batterson begins with this conviction: "Preaching may move the hearts of men, but praying moves the heart of God. And that's where revival comes from."

He spends sometime explaining why the number 40 was chosen, and how it reflects Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness and the way many Churches observe Lent. He even proposes to coin the project for Lent as an "ExperiLent." Some of the virtues of this book lay in how the author tries to promote the practice of prayer via:

  • Regularity and Routine;
  • Reflection and Focus on specific Scripture each day;
  • Short story or illustration to guide the meditation;
  • Exhortation;
  • Ending with a Promise to keep.

The book reads like a 40-day devotional and presents some interesting observations of the Christian life. He brings in familiar stories like Honi, his Ebenezer Coffeehouse project, his National  Community Church and outreach programs. He also draws in some notes from his previous books.

Personally, I think Batterson's "The Circle Maker" is a much better read in terms of understanding what it means to draw the circle of prayer. This book sits awkwardly between a devotional and a prayer book. The main advantage here is that it provides a systematic 40 day journey from readiness to obey toward growing in abiding trust in God. It is helpful for at least three groups of people. The first is busy people who needs some framework to pray. Each day, the short chapters enable the busy person to read fairly quickly and learn to pray according to the short guide each day. The point of focus helps especially in a world of multiple expectations and constant distractions. The second group will be those who have read "The Circle Maker" and wants some kind of a refresher or way to implement them. Those who love the first book will certainly want to pick up this book. The last group of people will be those who simply want to develop a prayer life themselves. People are creatures of habit. There is no magical solution in the number "40" or any other number. The key thing is regularity and intentional. Once this routine is cultivated, readers are free to extend beyond 40 days themselves, or to form their own program based on the Bible. If that eventually happens, people will not need external guides like this book to draw their own prayer circle. They will let creativity and joyful desire help them draw different shapes of prayer.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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