August: In the Books

I’m hoping to get back to blogging regularly here in a few weeks. But in the meantime, I just wanted to jump on here with my August book report! I've now finished books 16-18 of my #36in2016, which means I'm halfway there. For you math whizzes out there, that means I need to read an 18 more books now in the half the time that the first 18 took. Bring on the Young Adult Fiction. 150 pages or less. Ha. But really! I finished two novels this month. But I cannot recommend either of them, so I will just leave it at that. Actually, I read one and I listened to one on Audible (it's what I do when I exercise and/or drive long distances). And yes, the rules of the #36in2016 are that audio books count. I checked.

So I'll leave you with this one review for the month. It's definitely worth reading!

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

I picked The Circle Maker up at least two years ago, but I’d never read it. I finally started it in July. The main idea is that we need to be specific and persistent in our prayers or we will never recognize or receive the answers from the Lord. I don’t think the author and I agree about everything, and there are some parts of it that I struggled with because it feels an awful lot like demanding something of God, but reading it definitely increased my faith. And I think any book that makes you wrestle through what you believe is probably worth the time it takes to wrestle.

Ultimately, Batterson and I do agree about most things. He reminded me how important it is to pray specific prayers. Sometimes I do this vague, “Whatever You want, Lord” prayer that sounds really humble but is actually really scared. Because I know what I want. And sometimes the Lord has put those things in our hearts to ask for. And sometimes we just need to be bold enough to ask. Humbly. Respectfully. But boldly. And if God redirects or realigns our hearts away from that desire (or if He clearly says “no”), then let’s let Him, but let’s not just be waifs who are scared to engage with the Living God who invites to approach Him boldly and confidently (Hebrews 4:14-16). I’m tired of not asking for fear that He’ll say no.

My prayers were a little lifeless, and this reawakened something in me, reminded me how much I need this God who invites us to talk with Him. I started asking Him for a few specific things. And as I continued to read, I asked Him for them again. And again. They aren't selfish things. They are things that our God tells us to pray for but that I hadn't been intentional about asking for. Some of them are for myself. Some of them are for others.

One of them was for a friend who didn't know I was praying a specific thing for her. She had no idea I'd been praying it and had never asked me to pray it. But I got back in town after finishing this book and she said, "Oh, I have to tell you what happened today..." And she proceeded to tell me that exactly what I had been praying for had happened that morning! I don't say that because this book is magic or because my prayers are somehow special. It was all God. We serve a great big God who invites us right into His plans. We know and love a God who invites us to pray and who delights to reassure us that He hears. The Circle Maker reminded me of that. And the Lord confirmed it.

It's fun to be included in God's plans that way. I haven't been doing it since I finished the book, but I'm going to challenge each one of us today: ask the Lord what He wants to do in the life of someone that you love, wait until you get an impression of what that might be, and start praying it for them. And then wait and see what the Lord will do.

Sometimes it's a simple thing that we've forgotten. Pray. Pray often. Pray specifically. Pray persistently. And we need someone to give us permission to dream again. To ask again. To pray again. This book did that for me.

My favorite line was this:

"Sometimes we are so focused on the character of God that we forget that God has a personality too. He loves hiding around corners and surprising us." (Batterson, page 111)

I had forgotten that but Batterson reminded me. And then the Lord surprised me! And one simple answer to a prayer in someone else's life breathed a boldness back into my prayers. I am grateful that we love and know a God who does things like that!