This past fall, I sat in a room that couldn't decide if it wanted to be hot or cold with both strangers and friends. We were beginning small group again and we had decided to read Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. I'd heard great things about this book so I was excited to begin. As I was sharing the introduction about the legend of Honi the Circle Maker and how bold prayer honors God, I could sense much optimism but also a little skeptism. What did he mean, really, when he said for us to pray circles around our biggest dreams and greatest fears?
The thing that I love most about being in a small group is the sharing of life together. I love the bond that can form when someone admits a struggle that they are going through and the group is with them through that life-changing event. I also love being in community and getting to know one another on a deeper level than, "Hi, how are you?" on Sunday morning. But, as I asked people that I barely knew and people that I've known for years what their biggest dreams and greatest fears were, all I heard was silence.
That's a big question. Especially for people that don't even really know one another. As a leader, I've learned when a silence is awkward (this was one of those cases) so I began again.
"Okay...does anybody have a story about when God answered one of your prayers?"
The quietest person in the room spoke up. So did the loudest. All around the circle, every single person had a story to share about when God answered their prayers.
We were on to something.
Our greatest dreams and fears of the past had become something real, something that we had experienced. And for some reason, knowing that made thinking about our current dreams and fears a little less intimidating.
God hears us.
He really in truly does.
For years, I've doubted this truth. Not intentionally, of course. I've been the good Christian who always has a smile on her face but a frown on her heart. But that version of me is not the way I truly desire to live. I want to ask God questions yet believe in his answers even when he seems distant. I'm tired of looking like I have it all together when my biggest question to God has always been, "What do I do?." Today, as I begin the first real day of 2015, I want to believe that nothing is impossible with God - not just with my head, but also with my heart.
To believe in this whole circling our prayers business, we have to be bold. There's just no getting around it. Be bold in our prayers and in our commitment to pray. We can't be afraid to share and we certainly can't let fear get in the way of asking God for answers to our hearts' desires. Mark says,
"The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked."
Don't do 2015 by yourself. Invite God into your dreams and fears through prayer. I'd also encourage you to invite others to pray with you. If you've already signed up for our prayer challenge, I want you to know that we are doing this thing together for the next 21 days. Since I began my first prayer challenge last October, I've had numerous people praying for me...and I haven't even asked them to. That's what God does, he gathers us together to pray for one another. And when we hear about how God answered your prayer, it gives us hope that he can answer ours too.
As we close today, I'd like for you to respond in the comments section today to this question:
When has God answered your prayers?
Be encouraged as you read one another's responses.
Till next time, let your light shine!
PS - This is my first time hosting a group challenge like this, so I'd love to know your thoughts on how to best serve you in our time together. Would a group Facebook page be helpful for you? You can let me know if the comments below! Also, if you have a private prayer request, please DM me on Twitter @chris10price or message me on Facebook. I'd love to pray for you!
If you are just now joining us, you can read this post about joining us for 21 Days in Prayer.
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Want to go deeper?
- Complete the weekly prayer challenge sent to you by e-mail
- Read Chapters 1-4 this week in The Circle Maker
- Follow along with the New Start 15 Bible Reading Plan.
- Listen to today's song from our playlist as you circle your prayers