Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson
Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker and pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. has written a timely and insightful on prayer and your children called Praying Circles around Your Children. Batterson in the opening chapter spells out for parents in practical ways some basic truths: one, you will make a lot of mistakes and second, “your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities” (10-11). Batterson goes onto state that “every blessing, every breakthrough, every miracles traces back to the prayers that were prayed by you or for you” (12). In other words, prayer is the heartbeat of what it means to be a parent but also to be a believer. I think his advice at the end of the chapter was very good in that you don’t become a praying parent by a whim but by constant determination, desire to and discipline. Lest we forget, the discipline of prayer is not to be taken lightly.
While I am not crazy about the legend of Honi the rain maker, I think from a broader perspective that Batterson is trying to instill the truth that prayer is not to waver with circumstances but be offered faithfully and boldly. He writes, “There is nothing magical about physically circling something in prayer, but there is something biblical about it….Drawing prayer circles is a metaphor that simple means “to pray without ceasing.” It’s praying until God answers” (29). While I don’t necessarily think that our prayers are prophecies that pave the future for our family, there is something powerful and transformative about unceasing prayer. Praying for our kids can be a dangerous thing too, as we pray that they will make a difference in the world. Even more, as we study the Scriptures and pray for our kids, we begin to see what the most important things God says about our children and their future.
I also thought the chapter on prayer mantras was good. Finding what makes our child tick, what is their heartbeat of life alongside finding a life verse or verses for them reminds us of God’s work in their lives. Finding where our children’s God given gifts and God ordained passions intersect is definitely part of our duty as parents (71). The difficulty is today’s world is finding out what are their gifts and passions are and what piques their interest for other reasons that are not necessarily their gifts and passions. Having our kids pray with us involves us seeing how God is already working in their hearts.
I’m not sure exactly what Batterson was trying to say when he said that “Our prayers are prophecies and that we can write our children’s future through prayer.” I don’t think prayer is prophecy but rather a relationship with the Triune God that seeks to align ourselves with the values of the kingdom. Yet, I do think that our prayers for our children help us to see a vision of how our children might serve him, use their gifts for his glory.
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.