The Circle Maker
by Jen Hatmaker on February 18th, 2015

Last June, Brandon and I went to rural Canada with a whole bunch of people we didn’t know, because we do weird things. One of the guys we met was Mark Batterson, and I told Brandon one night, “There is no way he is really that nice. No one is that awesome.” (I must have been in a cynical place. LIGHTEN UP, FRANCIS.)
Anyhow, I was wrong.
Mark and his beautiful wife Lora are honest-to-goodness kind, warm, loving, amazing people leading the incredible work of National Community Church in theaters all around DC (surely my DC readers know you have a treasure in your midst). I mean, look at his face:
This face says: I am a really great guy. And a little goofy.

I’m in an interesting season that I bet a bunch of you are in too. My mom has cancer, and I can’t do a thing about it. No amount of reason or work or diligence or attention has any effect. All my usual tricks are useless. I find myself utterly out of control here. The combinations I typically employ are half-bankrupt:
Prayer + obedience.
Prayer + action.
Prayer + change.
Prayer + hard work.
Here is what I have:

I’m not a great pray-er. My friend Sarah is. My dad is. My friend Laurel is. But I have always felt closest to God in Scripture while prayer is territory I have to work harder for. (This is the exact reason I believe God has prompted specific people to hold prayer vigils over me for the last 10 years. I have the same handful of pray-ers interceding for me constantly. God is like, I need to get this girl covered since she won’t get her nose out of that Bible.)
But here I am in desperate need of prayer strength, and just in the nick of time, my friend Mark put an invaluable tool in my hands, and I want you to have it too: The Circle Maker. As weirdly interested in obscure ancient Jewish history as I am, Mark dug out an old story out of the Book of Legends and discovered Honi, the Circle Maker.

In 1 B.C., when God’s voice had been silent for four centuries, the prophets were dead, and miracles were not to be found, the Israelites were perishing in a brutal drought, one generation before Jesus. While faith was thin and prayer seemed futile, an old sage was still known for his dogged insistence on prayer. The people begged Honi to pray for rain on their behalf, and with his staff, he drew a large circle around himself in the dirt, dropped to his knees, help up his arms and prayed:
“Lord of the universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children.”
Small drops began to fall. Still inside the circle, Honi went on boldly:
“Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.”
Immediately, it began to rain in earnest. Empowered, Honi declared:
“Not for such rain have I prayed, for the rain of thy favor, blessing, and graciousness!”

The next generation saw the birth of Jesus.
Don’t you love that story with all your heart? Mark took that beautiful old legend from the Talmud and claimed it for our generation. Could we be Circle Makers in our families, in our callings, in our time? Could we draw circles around our children and pray for God’s movement in their lives? Could we draw circles around our struggles and pray for victory? Could we draw circles around our God-given dreams and pray for courage?
Mark walked off a 4-mile circle around his neighborhood and prayed God’s mighty movement in his community. Thousands of believers have drawn circles around ruined marriages, dead dreams, crippling fears, broken cities, wayward children. Mark put it like this:
“The earth has circled the sun more than two thousand times since the day Honi drew his circle in the sand, but God is still looking for circle makers. And the timeless truth secreted within this ancient legend is as true now as it was then: bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.
God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron ax-head, and God is moved to omnipotent action.”

I promise you, this is no name-it-and-claim it mess. This is simply emulating the prayers of the prophets and saints, the bold believing ancients, the church that has always come boldly before God exactly like He told us to. How will God answer? We don’t know, but like Mark says, we will live with a holy anticipation. You guys, his book is so moving and instructive and powerful. I am so grateful for this brother who has called us out of paralysis and into a place of strength.
Do you need to be a Circle Maker right now? Is it time for a righteous boldness in your life? For me, it is. I am drawing a circle around my mom and begging God to move. I am asking for healing because God said I could. I am asking boldly because Jesus made that posture possible. While I’m in the dirt, I am drawing circles around my children and marriage, my neighborhood and church. I am drawing a circle around our work and ministry. I am drawing a circle around the terrors in the Middle East right now and begging God to intervene.
Can you imagine a whole generation of Circle Makers? The ramifications are overwhelming. Let’s claim our territory in Christ with the authority He granted us. We are not an aw-shucks people. We are God’s own family, so we ought to pray like it.
Let’s draw big, bold, brave circles and pray for rain.

What circles do you need to draw?


Snag your copy at Barnes and Noble here.

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