Sunday, March 5, 2017

Circle Maker

There is legend of a devastating drought in first century BC that threatened to destroy an entire people. "Miracles were such a distant memory that they seemed like a false memory. But there was one man who dared to pray anyway. His name was Honi."
"With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi began to turn like a math compass. Three hundred and sixty degrees later, Honi stood in his circle and then he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to Heaven. With authority, like Elijah, Honi called down the rain."
And then it happened.
"Each raindrop was a tangible token of God's grace...they soaked the spirit with faith. It would be forever remembered as the day the legend of the circle maker was born... The circle he drew in the sand became a sacred symbol. And the legend of Honi the circle maker stands forever as a testament to the power of a single prayer to change the course of history" (Batterson, Mark. The Circle Maker).
At the time the legend of Honi met me, I could sense a change in the way I wanted my relationship with the Lord to be. Maybe my friend could sense it too because she suggested Mark Batterson's Circle Making book one Sunday right before 21 Days of Prayer began. I picked the book up at the library with no real expectations. I was willing to give it a shot. I knew I wanted more than just stolen minutes of mumblings on my way to the rest of my life. I wanted communication with God to be a priority.
I was about half way through the book when I knew I wanted to draw big and bold circles like Honi. Mark talks of his own journey in prayer, as well as Biblical examples of ambitious hopefuls in the Bible. It seems Honi wasn't the only one to circle his dreams and requests in prayer. It shows up time and time again throughout God's word. I felt an excitement in praying like this; I was full of expectation, but also slightly nervous. If I asked God for big things would they be answered the way I wanted? Would I learn to go to Him in all things or would I find disappointment lurking behind my petitions.
It was during my lunch break one January afternoon that the Holy Spirit stirred me to go walk circles around the building I worked in. My first response was along the lines of "no," "are you crazy" and "right now?" Those three thoughts stirred another realization of God's promoting.  Often when God asks us to do something, we resist because it is found in those categories. A lot of times it is something we don't necessarily want to do and is out of our comfort zone. Second, it seems "crazy" to the world or ridiculous without God's presence involved. And third, we think we aren't ready at that particular moment and seek to put it off until tomorrow. I didn't have to wonder if God was at work. It was crazy enough that it could only be from God.
Still I was prompted to go and make circles. My brain tried to fight it with excuses of it being cold, of my co-workers thinking I was crazy, of the whole thing seeming ridiculous, but my heart couldn't shake the obvious. If I was serious about asking God to move in ways like never before, I had to pray like never before, even if that meant walking circles around work on one of the coldest days to date of 2016.
I'll begrudgingly left the comfort and solitude of the break room and headed outside. I lifted up my place of work and I encircled the place I spent a majority of time at, as well as my co-workers and the people who walked through our doors in prayer.
What did it accomplish besides cold hands?
Faith. Step-by-step I got deeper and more comfortable with praying circles. As I circled the building, God did circles in my heart. When I came back inside I was at peace, but sat down wishing it had been a warm spring day. And that's when I heard it deep within.
It's easy to walk in circles on a warm sunny day when no one is looking, but it takes faith to go out in the cold on your lunch break. If you can do it then, you can do it anytime.
It was that aha moment. The mighty power of revelation in the form of a whisper across my soul. I wouldn't have seen it if I had not made the circles. I would've never gotten there if I had stayed inside. It probably wouldn't have rained that day had Honi not asked. If we don't circle our lives, and hopes and dreams and questions and concerns in prayer, we don't give God an invitation to enter those areas. There is something so unique about a circle in that it has an unyielding pattern. If done right, there is neither beginning nor end but a complete connect. How often do we break circles around prayers? Around dreams? Around people?
Google defines a circle as "moving all the way around (someone or something), especially more than once. Let us be a people who walk prayer circles. That do not give up so easily. Who are unyielding in pattern. Who dare to ask one more time. Who dare to ask for something big. And who walk circles at the most inconvenient times, even in the cold. God is not intimated by our requests. He yearns to hold our trust in such petitions. He calls us to circle walking and then gives us the strength to stand on those circles. We only need to find the courage to go there with Him.
-Only Hope
For more on Honi or prayer circles check out: Mark Batterson's, The Circle Maker:  Praying Circles Around Yout Biggest Dreams And Greatest Fears

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