NOTE : I’m not going to spend much time describing the general idea of the text, for that you can go here to Amazon The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears or to their own site here.
This book has gotten a lot of coverage and I highly recommend this review and this podcast/video.
This is my own option of the text.
I purchased The Circle Maker because our pastor was going to do a sermon series on the book, and was recommending it to all of us. On top if that it was only $2.99 for the kindle version, a bargain!
To preface much of my discussion it will help you to know a little of my testimony.
Although I grew up in a christian home and participated in church regularly, like most teenagers I went my own way. While outwardly following the church I was lured into practicing new age and occultist mind control. This happened concurrently with a downward spiral of depression, anger, aggression, and stress in my life. In a way it was an attempt to control a life that was increasingly out of control (1).
Eventually God would dramatically intervene in my life- saving me both from the grave and for his kingdom (2).
I am not proud of those years, and I don’t talk about them a lot, but it is necessary for you to know my background as it directly affects my thoughts on Batterson’s ideas.
Before I even read more than the first chapter of the book this promo video on the material had me on edge.
Anyone with experience in pagan practice would be instantly questioning this content as Christian. He is drawing a circle, in chalk, three times around in a sunwise direction. Man, anyone whose ever watched Charmed, Harry Potter, Supernatural or about 2 dozen other modern TV shows should recognize this as a pagan/ new age/ occultist practice. Even one episode of my favorite mystery/suspense show Bones had an episode on witches.
Whether it was intentional or not someone on that set should have been saying, “Wait a second guys. Maybe this could be taken the wrong way.” For all appearances he is making it look like you can use a summoning circle for prayer, which clearly crosses the line.
My guard was up going into the book, I kept looking for ways that this pagan connection might be proven one way or the other. I slugged through the whole thing (I will review it based on it’s literary flaws in a future blog.) What I have to say it that its pretty lukewarm on the pagan stuff.
You could certainly get the idea that he is blurring the lines if you are or have dabbled with new age and pagan practices. The danger in this is that someone could get use the book to support the idea that their new age practices are in line with modern Christianity. That’s a pretty slippery slope.
It doesn’t help that he borrows vocabulary from that world too, calling prayer “mystical,” applying the cliche “mind over matter,” using the terms “spiritual conduit” and “spiritual ancestors.” At one point he even says, “Daniel discerned the king’s dream because he could read his mind.” Also that, “Vision starts with visualization.” That last bit could have been taken right out of “The Secret” or a dozen other new age best sellers.
Visualization is an easy gateway into the new age. It’s so easy to start on that road thinking that it’s innocent and find out that it leads to destruction spiritually. It can lead to astral projection, spirit guides, and a host of other things. While sitting here writing about it my gut is in knots and I am feeling uneasy. It’s one of those ghosts of my past and hanging around with it isn’t very pleasant. This article goes more into depth if you want to know why Christians should be wary of this practice.
You could make excuses for alot of what appears to be new age in the book, and I would do that if he didn’t keep coming back to the same points again and again. There was a point while reading that I was going to let the physically drawing a circle slip as a metaphor, but he brings it up again suggesting that his reader go into their rooms and draw a circle in chalk and begin praying in it. Well that throws the whole metaphor concept out the window.
In his own words, “Sometimes physical contact creates a spiritual conduit. Proximity creates intimacy. Proximity proclaims authority. Drawing a prayer circle is one way of marking territory — God’s territory.”
Either Batterson is deceived or the deceiver. Or one other possibility is that he is incredibly naive about the new age. Which ever it is there are much better books on prayer out there. I suggest you skip “The Circle Maker.”