The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Thumping Around

I will admit that the concept of a circle serving as a means of getting one’s prayer answered was initially very disorienting.

The Circle Maker starts with a somewhat myth-like tale of an ancient Jewish prophet commanding God to provide rain.  And drawing circles around himself for emphasis. 

It is a nice, sweet story.  For children who need to begin to understand that God answers prayers.

But right on its heels is the impactful Bible account of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho by marching continuously around the city. 

It was Joshua’s turn to command God by creating a circle.

But from then on, the book is a success story after success story after success story.  It’s about receiving what you want in life by including the creation of a circle in your prayer.  


The book loses a lot because it quite quickly becomes just a list of things people have accomplished by using the concept of a circle in your prayers.

And the book is over 200 pages long.

The only variations are length of time until the goal is reached.  Or how the circle is put into place—is it a literal walking around something, or is the circle what we normally call a prayer circle (a group of people who share the same prayer intention.)

The book is just story after story.  Page after page.  

With differing levels of desperation behind the prayer.  Other things can be added to the circle, such as fasting.  But it seems, according to this book, you can’t get nothing from God without a circle.

Under your belt.  

So to speak.

At times one could get the sense that the stories are forced to fit the model.  Right.  So my friend prayed for something and he received his prayer, so there must have been a circle in there somewhere.

The book begins with a breathtaking miracle, followed by another.  But the author doesn’t keep the awe factor in his list of miracles performed.  Instead, he reduces his approach to prayer to a formula, a recipe.  With God as only one ingredient in the mix.

You put in this many steps, and that many words, sprinkle with God, and there you go!  You are all set.

And it is always about using the circle to command God.  Which, I realize, is a power given to us by God himself.

But for every single prayer? 

Do this now, God!

It made me grind my teeth a bit. 

I find that, to me, anyone person who asserts that he has absolute power over God—and not the other way around—is something of a fool.

Pastor Batterson’s book is more like those books that were popular thirty years ago: books on how to use affirmations to get anything you want in life.  

And that is really the bottom-line problem with the book: it’s all about getting what you want in life. 

Getting what you want in life is the only intention in the book.

I bought the book, and happened to see it as an audiobook and purchased it in that form, too.  I like the decadence of listening to books while on long drives.

At the end of the audio version of the book the author gave a list of (if I remember correctly) 100 things he wants before he dies.  And, he asserts, they are all for the glory of God.

Like attending a Super Bowl game with his son. (check)

Or climbing a certain mountain. 

Or going somewhere wonderful with his wife.

Things like that.

When I heard the phrase, for the glory of God, I perked up and listened very closely.

And was shocked.

I could only count three things on the list that might reveal God’s glory to others.  All the rest were just, well, things this guy wants to do before he dies.

His bucket list. 

That mostly had to do with his family.  

By the end of it, I wondered why he hadn’t put owning a Lamborghini on the list.  It would have fit nicely.

The book teaches people who want to get through the challenges of life with a little help from God to begin with becoming solely self-centered. 

I want this!  I got this!

Personally, I can’t imagine my prayer world being so vain.  I’ve always found vanity to be mighty tedious.

Instead, I look to God for direction in what I should be praying for.  

And I have to say that in all my years of praying, which have been many, I’ve never really had the urge to make a circle in any way during the time I prayed for something.

Not that Joshua was wrong.  He was probably following God’s guidance on how to bring the walls down.  

But that’s the real point, isn’t it?  That it’s God’s guidance that we follow in prayer.

When we make ourselves the knowers of how this prayer is to be prayed, then we are giving ourselves too much credit.  

When someone whispers in your ear, Listen, I’ll tell you how to pray, followed quite quickly with, All you have to do is buy my book, and I suggest that you are looking not at someone who really understands the nature of prayer at all.

Or God. 

If a secret to how to get what you want in life through prayer is held between the covers of a book (or two), then God has been reduced to just that: something to be reduced and sold as a commodity. 

Which makes me think, in the end, that this book has no God in it.

As I look at the cover of the book I noticed a little blurb: New York Times Bestseller.

To understand God and prayer there’s only one bestseller that we need to read: The Bible.


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