Friday, November 16, 2012

The Circle Maker--Part 1: Bold and Audacious Prayer (Chapters 1-2)

There are several adoption blogs I read with regularity. These bold women who are putting their lives out there for people like me to learn from are a huge source of comfort and encouragement to me. The funny thing is that I don't think most of them really know who I am. That kind of makes me feel like a stalker. Oh well. Anyway, one of these lovely ladies has been blogging about reading The Circle Maker for a while, and based on her posts and review of the book, I decided to try it out. I have been reading it this afternoon, and based on what little I have read so far, I think this is going to revolutionize the way I pray, especially about our adoption.

I have been thinking and praying a lot lately about what the Lord is doing in our life and what He wants us to do with it. Yes, we are waiting on the adoption front, but that does not mean we just stand still until we get a phone call telling us we have been matched with our baby. There is life in the meantime, and as long as I am alive, I know that God's desire for me is to tell people about Him. So that is how I am going to use this blog. Yes, this is where we will chronicle our adoption journey and God's glorious miracles in this part of our life. But, I am becoming more and more convinced that the Lord wants me to use this forum as a place to glorify His name and speak to the truth of His character.

So, with all of that in mind, I want to share with you my reading of The Circle Maker. As an English teacher, I love to read and study books, so over the coming days/weeks (depending on how quickly I move through the book), I want to share with you what I believe God is teaching me through this book.

To begin, I need to share with you the premise and purpose of this book. The Circle Maker focuses on prayer, bold and audacious prayer. The author, Mark Batterson, begins by retelling an ancient Jewish story of the scholar Honi. Honi was alive during the generation before Christ, the generation who had experienced a whole lot of silence from God. The Lord did not speak for the four hundred years leading up to the birth of Christ, and the people of Israel were struggling. During all of this, there was a severe drought in the land. After much suffering as a result of the drought and God's silence, Honi stepped out in bold and audacious prayer. He drew a literal circle around himself in the sand and prayed to God for rain, telling God that he would not move from this circle until the Lord answered. The Israelites were shocked by his audacity. But then a light rain began to fall. Honi cried out to the Lord again, saying that he did not want a light right, but a true rain, a rain that would restore life to Israel. The rain became torrential. Again, Honi cried out to the Lord, asking for a rain of blessing. and the rain calmed down and watered the earth and restored the lives and the spirits of the Israelites. Then, one generation later, Jesus Christ was born. So the idea is that we need to pray boldly and specifically. God is capable of so much more than we give Him credit for. We draw circles, pray circles, around people or things in our lives, and we we pray boldly for God to move in BIG ways. 

As I read this book, I obviously have our adoption at the forefront of my mind. And I realize that, especially at this point in the process, I can do nothing to make things go faster. I cannot make a call to push something through. I cannot finish paperwork at the speed of light. I cannot do a thing. And that is frustrating, maddening even. Until I realize that this is the place from which God can do the most. Batterson says the following: 

"The greatest moments in life are the miraculous moments when human impotence and divine omnipotence intersect--and they intersect when we draw a circle around the impossible situations in our lives and allow God to intervene."

We are at a place in our adoption right now, I am at a place in my life right now where I cannot do anything to get myself closer to what I want, to what I believe God's will, His plan is for my life. So what can I do? I can circle it in prayer. I can circle our adoption, our child, our agency, our birth mother with prayer and wait for God to move. It can be so hard, especially when there seems to be no end in sight, but here the book raises another truth. One that I know, but forget all too easily. God is on my side. I am not trying operate outside His will or circumvent His will in some way. He planted this desire in our hearts, and so I need to hang on to that truth and pray accordingly

"It is absolutely imperative at the outset that you come to terms with this simple yet life-changing truth: God is for you. If you don't believe that, then you'll pray small timid prayers; if you do believe it, then you'll pray big audacious prayers. And one way or another, your small timid prayers or your big audacious prayers will change the trajectory of your life and turn you into two totally different people."

What a relief! To know that God is on our side! That should fill our hearts and our lives with confidence, with courage. We should be emboldened to do the things that seem so far beyond our own capabilities, the things we feel God has called us to but seem so impossible to us. When we step out in faith over these types of things, He alone gets the glory. Why? Because it is so perfectly obvious that we could not have done these things on our own! He had to intervene. He had to act. Otherwise, that impossible would not have happened. God is capable of more than we can even imagine to ask. 

"We pray out of ignorance, but God answers out of omniscience. We pray out of our impotence, 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."

So we have to pray with boldness, with audacity. God WANTS that from us. He wants our faith, our belief in Him and His ability to be so huge that we feel the freedom to ask anything, knowing that He can do it. He can. No matter what it is. He can. And when we believe that, when we know that down to the core of our soul, it changes who we are. 

"Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the transcript of your life."

Now, a moment to discuss what this does not mean. This does not mean that we can bend God's actions to suit our will, our plans. This is not a guarantee that no matter what we ask, God will do it. That is not how prayer works. We must first pray and ask God to align our hearts with His. We need our will, our desires, to match up with God's. That is only achieved through prayer, focused and intentional prayer. And our ultimate goal should be to glorify God. That is the true purpose of our lives, to bring honor and glory to God. That happens when God does big things and receives the credit for them. 

"Drawing prayer circles starts with discerning what God wants, what God wills. And until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from His power supply... 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."

We must get to a place where we are fully and completely dependent on God. We need to recognize our dependence on God for answers to our prayers, for sustenance in our daily lives. When we admit that we are completely and utterly dependent on God, He does great things. Big things. Things beyond what we believe to be possible. He performs miracles. 

"Raw dependence is the raw material out of which God performs His greatest miracles."

So we have to pray. We have to pray believing that God can do something, the something that we think cannot be done. 

"Miracles are the by-product of prayers prayed either by you or for you. And that should be all the motivation you need to pray."

So, I hope you can see why I am already so very in to this book. And I cannot wait to see where it takes me. I am hoping and praying that I know my God more as a result of reading this. I want to know Him as much as my feeble human mind is able. I want to pray big, bold, audacious prayers. And I want to see God act on those prayers. I want to see Him do the impossible in my life. I have seen it before, and I want to see it again. I want Him to bring our family together in a way that could only be His doing. I am praying for a miracle. A May referral. That is my miracle. 

"And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may uphold the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel according to each day's need." 1 Kings 8:59


**All italicized passages are taken from Mark Batteron's, The Circle Maker. (I only have it on my Kindle, so I cannot record page numbers; my inner-English teacher in cringing.)

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