“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

— 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"The Circle Maker"

Several Southern Baptist pastors came out early, in opposition to this obvious heretical teaching.  Dr. Randy White was one:

Mark Batterson and his "The Circle Maker" DVD and book series is nothing more than new age mysticism wrapped in a feel-good un-scriptural methodology for prayer. "The Circle Maker" book and DVD series tries to play on emotionalism highs by introducing the "newest" way to reach for God.

Dr. Charles Stanley tells why the "Name it, Claim it" is a false "Prosperity Gospel" theology, and has no place in the church.  This is the basic concept of "The Circle Maker" book.

Dr. Stanley responds to this popular view that a believer can name a need or desire, and expect God to deliver it, in the following video.

(Courtesy of In Touch Ministries, 2011)

Rev. Chris Rosebrough has written: What does drawing three circles have to do with "black magic"? The Circle Maker book by Mark Batterson was written a few years back (which continues to shipwreck the faith of the flock today), contains some disturbing parallels with the kind of pagan sorcery used by modern-day witches.

Batterson says we are to draw these circles around our biggest dreams:

"Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a circle maker, Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles around your dreams, your family, your problems, and, most importantly, God’s promises. In the process, you’ll discover this simple yet life-changing truth: God Honors Bold Prayers and Bold Prayers Honor God."  (Publisher's Note)

A few years ago I found this excellent 15-minute documentary that exposes The Circle Maker's pagan practices. I highly recommend you watch it, and share it with those in your circles (sorry!), who are caught up in Christian mysticism.

You'll be fascinated to hear from those who call themselves witches who are excited about this book, recognizing their practice of “casting a circle,” three times, around an object, person or desire.  Be sure to notice at about eight minutes in the similarities between the Circle Maker, the Narnia-Prince Caspian scene and Oprah’s promotion of the book, The Secret.

You’ll also want to pay close attention to the words the author himself uses to describe the purpose of prayer and what his desire his for you in the pages of his book.

Don't Pray in Circles!

Tim Challies wrote this piece in 2014

January 10, 2014

Praying in circles is fast becoming a thing in some Evangelical churches. People have been taught to draw circles around the things they want, or even to walk in circles around the things they are sure the Lord ought to grant them. In either case, they are to pray around those things and in that way to claim them for the Lord.

The inspiration, I suppose, is Mark Batterson and his book The Circle Maker (my review). Batterson bases his prayer technique on a story from the life of Honi Ha-Ma’agel, a Jewish scholar who lived in the first century B.C. Jewish history records him as being a miracle-worker in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha. Here is a brief account of his greatest miracle:

On one occasion when God did not send rain well into the winter (in the geographic regions of Israel, it rains mainly in the winter), he drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move until it rained. When it began to drizzle, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more rain; it then began to pour. He explained that he wanted a calm rain, at which point the rain calmed to a normal rain.

Batterson explains, “The prayer that saved a generation was deemed one of the most significant prayers in the history of Israel. 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.”

And it is from Honi that Batterson found the inspiration to begin praying in circles. In his book he describes many occasions in which he has prayed in circles and seen the Lord grant what he asked. The promise of his book is that it “will show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities. You’ll learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals.”

I want to give you three reasons not to pray in circles in the manner Batterson prescribes.

It’s Extra-Biblical

What I consider most notable about Batterson’s approach to prayer is that it is extra-biblical. It is not drawn from the New Testament or the Old Testament but from the Talmud. To the Jew the Talmud is the authoritative, binding body of religious tradition; to the Christian it is nothing, no more binding and no more prescriptive than Encyclopedia Britannica. It may be of historical and academic interest, but it does not represent the voice of God to his people. When Batterson prays in circles, he begins with a tradition outside the Bible and then looks within the Scripture to build a shaky support structure.

It’s Un-Biblical

Praying in circles is extra-biblical, derived from a source apart from Scripture. But that’s not all, it’s also patently un-biblical, finding no support in Scripture. It is entirely absent from God’s Word to us. The Bible is not lacking in explicit and implicit teaching when it comes to prayer. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus as simply and clearly as they could: “Teach us to pray.” When Jesus taught his disciples, he said nothing about prayer circles; if anything, he said the opposite when he told them to pray privately and in a quiet place. When Paul wrote to the people he loved, he often told them how and what he was praying on their behalf, and he said nothing about prayer circles. Praying in circles is absent in any and every form.

It’s Anti-Biblical

Praying in circles is extra-biblical and un-biblical, but it is more than that: it is anti-biblical. It directly violates the principles of prayer. When Jesus teaches us to pray, he teaches us to approach God as a child approaches a father, not marching in circles around him, but simply asking with confidence and humility. To pray in circles is to elevate technique at the expense of the heart behind it. To pray in circles is to attempt to manipulate God by action rather than seeking God by communing with him in his Word and prayer. It is nearly indistinguishable from a name-it-and-claim-it kind of Christianity where the things we visualize and demand are the things God must and will give to us, if only we know how to bend his will to ours.

Pray Boldly

Praying in circles is simply the latest in a long list of techniques to exploit our deep-rooted dissatisfaction with our prayer lives.

Now listen! We need to pray big prayers and bold prayers. Through Christ Jesus we can approach God’s throne with boldness and confidence; we can be like that persistent widow who asks and asks until she receives. The Lord loves to hear us pray and loves to grant what we ask. But not if we attempt to manipulate him by technique.

From the founder of “End Times” website: “Discerning The Circle Maker's advertising techniques and how they match Genesis 3”


Just two days ago, I published a piece about the book, The Circle Maker, written by Mark Batterson and released in 2012. I'd left the issue alone until then, choosing not to do a book review or a discernment essay on it because it seemed so obvious that this was something Christians should not be involved in. But at the end of 2012, it became clear that Batterson's concept of casting a circle to claim God's promises to unleash our dreams was saturating even the most stalwart bastions of the faith, when the organizers and participant of the "True Woman" conference including Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Earicksen Tada, promoted it. These are elder woman who should be leading us women into a deeper faith, not into occult and pagan practices that originate from outside the Bible. I was pretty shocked.


Many other fine essays exist on the internet that show you in biblical terms why Batterson's circle making is unwise and even dangerous, including a review by pastor and Christian book reviewer Tim Challies.


So I developed a piece from an angle that demonstrated in pictures that the practice Batterson promotes is not new and it is not Christian.


However I'd like to write about it one more time, this time as a discernment piece to unpack the way he presented it. Something that Mr Batterson said sticks in my craw, and though I'd planned a piece today examining an uplifting verse from Matthew, I am switching to get this down first. It's like what Jude said,


"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)


I am contending. Hopefully this will help someone be discerning, not just of The Circle Maker but in general and armed for the future by unpacking the techniques used to attract people to the book and its premise, and how they are the same that satan used in the Garden against Eve.


See, in his promotional video and in the book's advertising blurb, Mr Batterson said:


"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"


This is how successful advertisers always begin their pitch.


It is how satan began his pitch. He approached Eve and made her doubt what she knew, so she would be open to hearing a solution to a problem she didn't know she had.


"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)


Then satan, taking a cue from Ron Popeil, said, 'but wait, there's more!' And satan presented to her a solution to her problem she didn't know she even had until satan pointed it out.


But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)


Eve wanted to fill the lack that she now understands she has in her life,


"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate," (Genesis 3:6a)


And like all false doctrine, it spreads quickly, corrupting others right away.


"and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6b)


So there was Eve, the only sinless woman to ever live and she dwelled in utter perfection. The air temperature was perfect. Her surroundings were beautiful. Her body was perfect inside and out. The animals were perfect. She was never hungry or cold or angry or had any ache whatsoever. She had perfect harmony with her husband and perfect unity with God.


And yet satan was able to convince Eve that somewhere out there, there's more. He told her that her life lacked something, and she believed it. Taking the fruit, she ate, rationalizing all the way. Now read Mr Batterson's pitch again:


"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"


I mourn daily that so many Christians forgo the praise that is due the Lord and forget how glorious a life we are actually living. Though we do not dwell in perfection like Eve did, we have perfection inside us.


First, let's stop a moment and thing of how full our lives really are. We have been saved by grace. This is monumental! As Dr MacArthur preached, we should be "adoring God for our eternal inheritance." When did we become discontent with the universe's most glorious act, the salvation of a sinner to the holy breast of God!?


But wait, there's more! God dwells inside us!! Wow! What a gift!


"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." (Romans 8:9)


Jesus Himself deemed that He would send us a comforter, teacher, friend, and guide. Jesus said,


"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."... (John 16:7). "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26).


But wait, there's more! If all that wasn't enough, we have the opportunity to pray to Him, and He listens. Have we become inured to the fact that God is God, He who calls Himself I AM, will listen to our petitions and pleas? Far from being disinterested or inattentive, Jesus is monumentally interested in bringing about Good for our sakes. He didn't save us just to wander off and sit on another planet contemplating His navel. He is involved with His people. He accepts praise and worship, and He ordains good for us. He listens to our prayers!


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)


"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26).


But wait, there's more!


Jesus sent the Spirit to inspire men to write His words down, so that we could always have its wisdom and comfort to guide us also. The Spirit makes the words come alive and since they are eternal and come from the holy place, the words in the bible are eternally good.


"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16).


There is so much more, too. We are justified, sanctified, have the privilege of prayer, have the incredible word, have the daily opportunity to serve Jesus, have treasures stored up in heaven, have an eternity awaiting us in glory...and yet satan comes along and says-


"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"


My answer is no. No, I don't sense there is far more to prayer. I trust that there is and I trust the Lord to take care of things whether I "sense" it or not. No, I do not sense there is far more to God's vision for my life, I know there is. I trust Him to unfold it in His timing and in His way. No, I do not sense there are more experiences to have, I know that there are. I trust the Lord to bring me along in sanctification whether I 'feel' it or not. I trust the promises in the bible about what my daily life will be like.


I trust what God hath said.


I get sad when adults are so undiscerning. I get upset when undiscerning adults taint the children.


Jesus is very protective of the children. They are the means by which the successive generations carry the faith. (Joel 1:3).


"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:2)


"But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)


And yet on August 6, 2013, The Circle Maker for Kids will be released. An undiscerning generation will be teaching the next generation to rely on sensing, personal experience, and wiccan circle casting for their worship.


Within two years of the original book's release, do you see how quickly we have been made merchandise of? For kids, for students, the daily journal, the curriculum, prayer challenge, it goes on and on.

Do you see the original book's cover in hardback, 'the solution to 10,000 problems"? Did you know there were 10,000 problems that Mark Batterson can help you solve? I thought the Bible was the solution to 10,000 problems!

A classic advertising technique- you have a problem, and here is the solution. My  heart cries out, why, o why, aren't the bible's solutions good enough for people?


The blurb says "The Circle Maker will help you bring your God-given dreams into being through tenacious prayers that honor God and make the impossible come true."


You...your... my prayers will make my dreams come true...let's cut the middle part from the sentence and just say what is really his truth: "The Circle Maker will ... make the impossible come true."


It is God who answers prayer a God who does the impossible. Not my prayers, not my faith in my prayers not my method of prayer, and not my tenacity.


Jesus, please come soon and save the children from this ruinous generation!


Below I've pasted "Efficient Advertising Techniques". Be aware when you are being sold a bill of goods and being made merchandise out of. It begins with a question, and intimating you have a problem you didn't know you had.




"Advertising techniques can be of many kinds. All creative advertisers use some of the following techniques and tricks to grab the potential consumer's attention and turn it to sales."


Arouse Curiosity

"Nothing works better than this technique. Humans, by nature are always drawn towards the unknown, or in this case something new and advanced. Arousing curiosity with words, prints, images or visuals will definitely make an impact. On an average, an individual spends less than 5 seconds to go through an entire ad. If your subject does not arouse curiosity immediately, it is a lost opportunity. A well-crafted ad should be eye-catching, and difficult to ignore."


"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer?"


Hath God really said?


Promise a Benefit

"Most brands are associated with some pre-defined character, and they need to be re-emphasized with every new service advertised. The headline must promise a benefit for the consumer, because in most instances it is the headline that sells the product more than the copy, images or the celebrity. Advertisements should also carry general information about the service center address, phone numbers, credit cards that the business accepts, and the name of a person to ask for when calling for more information."


"In this powerful booklet, excerpted from THE CIRCLE MAKER, Batterson helps you uncover your heart's deepest desires and God-given dreams and unleash them through the kind of audacious prayer that God delights to answer."


Emotional Appeal

"Many advertisers attract attention by pulling at the heart stings and triggering emotions. An emotional response is by far the most powerful reason for making decisions. Emotional and rational thoughts are interdependent, as the ability to decide rationally is determined by issues that drive the emotions. We get more attracted to products and services that make us feel good and safe. The concept of emotional appeal are best seen in insurance ads made world over, and also companies that associate their sales with social upliftment causes."


"How big is your God? Bigger than a positive MRI or a negative evaluation? Bigger than your secret sin or secret dream? Is He big enough to heal your marriage or your child?"



"In most houses, children have a say in every big or small purchase made. Most parents just give in to the tantrums, a fact well-known to the advertisers. Out of ten commercials one sees through any medium, 8 have children featured in them who are generally a little more perfect than the target audience. These perfect children then go on to become role-models that have to emulated by other children."


"The Circle Maker for Kids: Basing this story on his adult bestseller The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson shares the ancient Jewish legend of Honi the Rainmaker with children to teach them about the power of prayer. Ages 4-8."  Oh, my.

7 Rebuttals of Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker

By Sam Kean

I. Truth can always be tainted by throwing in a little falsehood. And, anyone can be deceived by half-truths or a mixed truth or by the Bible not being taken in context. This is what false conversions and deceptions are all about.

II. Jewish Legend must not serve as a Christian prayer model, even if it does somewhat “overlap” with biblical themes… especially of a legend who is said to have slept 70 years under a tree and planted trees all across Israel. Sound familiar to Rip VanWinkle or Johnny Appleseed?

A. Even though Josephus and the Talmud record Honi as a real man that lived, and as a “righteous man” (whatever that meant to Josephus), we must limit our authority for faith and practice to the Bible.

1. In Jospheus’ account, Honi cries out to “god, the king of the whole world,” & “lord of the world” NOT “God, the maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 134:3; 146:6; Ps.121:2; Gen. 1:1) as other biblical intercessors.

2. Honi is not even considered apocryphal to OT and NT scholars. He is therefore classified as legend to the Jews and in their Talmud (stories) much like Rip Van Winkle or Johnny Appleseed are to annals of Anglo fable.

3. It is fact that during the inter-testamental period, many Jews began synagogue worship, or else they became “Bablyonianized,” taking on near-eastern mysticism or magic (the root word magi or ha-M’agel — as seen in the name Honi ha-M’agel) which included circle making and a lot of geometry and astrology that the Greeks borrowed. [see: The Commerce of the Sacred: Mediation of the Divine Among the Jews in the Greco-Roman World pg. 18]

4. Though Josephus records miracles of Honi’s life or supposed vindications of Honi, Josephus was not (as we can tell from his Roman allegiance and unsympathetic accounts of Jesus Christ) a believer in the one true God. Magic (as opposed to God’s power) is powerful but not good. We are not to model prayer after extra-biblical examples.

5. Honi called himself THE Son of God… not “a son of God” but “the.” [see Examining Honi the Circle Drawer: History and Legends for a quote by Bart Ehrman: “Later sources indicate that Honi was a revered teacher and a miracle worker, who called himself the son of God.”

B. “It was the legend of Honi the circle maker. And it forever changed the way I pray.” – pg. 21 [Mark Batterson says it was the legend of Honi that changed the way he prays, not the Bible.]

C. “It is possible for a man to dream continuously for 70 years.” – pg. 43 [This is a direct reference to the legend that Honi slept under a tree for 70 yrs. Not cool. What does Josephus say about Honi in this regard? NOTHING. Does Josephus record anything about Honi planting trees all over Israel? NOTHING. Yet, these stories are in the same passages in the Book of Legends. In the context of Mr. Batterson’s chapter, he goes on to write: … next point]

D. “Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic. Instead of going after our dreams, we stop circling Jericho.” –pg. 43 [But wait, do we “create our future” by imagining it, or does God guide us by His Word through all life’s circumstances? Yes, we are born with a God-given personality and interests, and these are exercised by goals. But, this is poor wording at the least, scary theology at the most. Moreover, logic IS NOT the opponent of faith!! “All God’s ways are perfectly reasoned” (Dt. 32:4). For example, Jericho was to be “circled” for a set amount of days and for set revolutions in that day to signify God’s resting on the 7th Day of Creation–that all of the works of God are completed already, and that, Israel should allow God to fight for them, as He promised He would. Again, maybe this is just poor wording choice for saying, “don’t get into a rut and put yourself or God in a box.” But, wow. It did not come out that way. And, going after our dreams emerges again… just like on the cover and in confusing contrast to the things he writes on pp. 28-31.]

III. Using “circling” and as an organized metaphor for focusing our prayers and not relenting until we see the answer (praying through) was not wisely chosen; because “circle casting” is undeniably occult practice.

A. Mark does a thrice-round circle in every DVD video, according to occult prescription, as opposed to just once around.

B. “A faction believed that drawing a circle and demanding rain dishonored God.” – pg. 13 [uh, ya. especially if the circle casting was an occult like practice, even in Honi’s day. Do occult members see real answers to their prayers, even rain? Did my great grandparents find a well when they used to “witch water?” uh, ya. BUT, Elijah made no circles. He simply went off of the prayer based on the promise (Covenant) he found IN CONTEXT, not narcigesis.]

C. “Maybe it was those same members of the Sanhedrin who would criticize Jesus for healing a man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath a generation later.” – pg. 13 [Here we have a rhetorical appeal to emotions built on a hypothetical, which equates Honi with a well-established and accepted figure–Jesus. But, Honi is not authoritatively factual or biblical. He is legend. And, the people that stood by are not authoritatively factual or biblical. They are legend. This is an emotional appeal to defame anyone who disagrees with the book. And, its being presented at the end of the 1st chapter is no coincidence.]

D. “The prayer that saved a generation was deemed one of the most significant prayers in the history of Israel.” – pg. 13 [History? History of Israel? No… this is LEGEND, not the course of truly important Israeli history, as marked by God in the Bible. And, sorry, but one rain storm cannot save an entire generation. Hyperbole! Either Mark Batterson has ignorantly taken this legend and placed into the realm of truth and authoritative history, or he has done it on purpose.]

E. “The circle he drew in the sand became a sacred symbol.” – pg. 13 [what kind of sacred symbol – geometry, astrology, near-eastern mysticism?]

F. “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.” – pg. 13 [Once again, Honi is legend. He is not even on the level of Apocryphal history. He changed no God-recognized history. Now, Elijah–there is a man whom God used to change history in turning God’s people away from idols.]

G. “Like Honi, you refuse to move from the circle until God moves.” pg. 35 [I will not comment again on the use of the Honi legend instead of Scripture, but I will say that we must be careful with this kind of “persistence.” Yes, God does want us to be persistent with Him (ex. Daniel’s prayers, the parable of the unjust judge, the parable of the neighbor needing bread). However, we had better be sure that we are most definitely on God’s will, as revealed in the Scriptures and not narcigeting promises. If we are committing eisegesis, then our prayers and “staying in the circle” become tantamount to occult ritual.]

H. Praying Through, especially Praising Through (pp. 39, 164) are also very familiar concepts to me, which I find refreshing to see mentioned in Mr. Batterson’s book. But again, these must be preceded by one’s having located assurance of God’s promise within all its proper contexts. The unstudied and non-surrendered cannot possibly point their finger to a Bible passage with a selfishly delusional fervor and expect God to honor their wishes. There does come a time when the diligent searcher is convinced of a reality he sees in God’s Word through illumination, and that, it is applicable to his own situation. At that point, praying through/praising through are simply the exercise of diligent patience and thanksgiving in faith, in order to obtain what GOD promises (Hebrews 6:10-20). Let’s not make it mystical.

I. “Your job is to draw circles in the sand. And if you do the geometry, God will multiply the miracles in your life.” – pg. 55 [In context, Mr. Batterson is talking about God exceeding our anticipations. But, “GEOMETRY”? Again, this is either poor word choice or occult-like word choice based on mere Jewish legend. I will give Mr. Batterson the benefit of the doubt, because he states other places that “prayer circling” isn’t a trick to get what you want.]

J. “Before the first raindrop fell, Honi had to have felt a little foolish. Standing inside a circle and demanding rain is a risky proposition. Vowing that you won’t leave until it rains is even riskier. Honi didn’t draw a semicircle. He drew a complete circle. There was no escape clause, no expiration date. Honi backed himself into a circle, and the only way out was a miracle.” – pg. 47 [Unless Honi was invoking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on the basis of the same covenant that Elijah invoked, then Honi was NOT God’s servant. No reference is made to the covenant stipulations or the waywardness of God’s people in the legend. No comment is made about who the people were serving or why they were in exiled silence during the inter-testamental period.]

If Honi was God’s servant, then why did he have to draw a circle? Why did he have to “back himself into a circle” by making what could be a very unbiblical vow? If we back ourselves irrevocably into unbiblical vows, what can Christians expect but ruination? Jesus said: (Matthew 5:33-37)

 33“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36“Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

Jesus said not to make an oath at all, and so does James (Matt. 5:34; James 5:12).]

K. “Drawing prayer circles often looks like an exercise in foolishness. But that’s faith. Faith is the willingness to look foolish.” – pg. 47 [Faith is NOT foolishness, though it may appear to be so in the eyes of the unbelieving. Faith IS NOT the willingness to look foolish. Many who exercise faith do not wish to look foolish even though they appear foolish. But, they realize that Faith is the stuff that comes from expecting things that God has promised; Faith is the evidence of the the true but unseen realm (Hebrews 11). Again, maybe this is just Mr. Batterson’s style and word choice, but he is dealing with very important spiritual concepts. Accuracy and precision pay the surgeon. Sloppiness and “style” kill the patient and the surgeon’s career.]

IV. Even though Mr. Batterson states early on in the book it is God’s will that we seek, the cover explicitly says: “praying circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears.”

A. The surrender of one’s own will and desires is paramount in prayer, according to the Lord’s prayers in Luke 6 and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes God’s plan for us looks nothing like our “biggest dreams.” It looks more like death and the cross.

B. The greatest belief by Satanists and New Age philosophy (exemplified in books like “the Secret”) is the promotion of “self” and finding our “own way” to spirituality. When we speak about “praying through” (staying in the circle or keep circling), we need to remember that without the surrender of our will in order to submit to God’s via the Word, we are either demanding from God–not cool–or praying to another god entirely, especially if we have drawn literal casting circles.

C. Most of the prayer stories in the book are about obtaining buildings, jobs, money, contracts, etc. There are a few stories about overcoming sin, but these are few. Most of the book is about defining, focusing on and obtaining one’s goals. The majority of the stories reflect the following teaching:

1. “God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers.” – pg. 15 [umm. yes he is, if my dreams are fleshly and carnal or against his revealed will of my Christ-likeness, or if I just want to consume them on my desires, or even I am just not allowing full sway of His will–timing, way, change in me.]

2. “God is for you” – pg. 15 [ok. I get that, but what about my seeking out and being for God’s plans first? (Matthew 5:25-34)]

3. “The bigger the circle we draw, the better, because God gets more glory.” – pg. 15 [Not true. We glorify God best when our prayers align us with God’s will, when we rejoice in Him, whether that means we must abound or be abased, have much or suffer for his name (Phil. 4). Yes, we should seek to advance His kingdom, but we should do it his way–which from all indications, does not require buildings, land, great conventions/organizations or money. It just requires the church being the church, following the leadership of the Spirit of Christ (Acts).]

4. “Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.” – pg. 16 [Prayers are NOT prophecies. One’s pattern or lack of prayer may be “like” prophecy (indicating one’s spiritual health), but they are not prophecies themselves. I agree that who we become is determined by how we pray. Are we becoming more Christ-like (“not my will but yours”) or satanic (“I will …”)? If the transcript of my prayers (literally, what I say in my prayers) is so important, then why did Jesus say, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7)]

5. “You will learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals.” – pg. 16 [Ok. But, what about my sin or my growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus? Is that what you meant by problem? ok. I’ll give that one to you. By the way, your goals emerges once again, confusing the issue.]

6. “Drawing prayer circles starts with discerning what God wants, what God wills. And until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from his power supply. Sure, you can apply some of the principles you learn in The Circle Maker, and they may help you get what you want, but getting what you want isn’t the goal; the goal is glorifying God by drawing circles around the promises, miracles and dreams He wants for you.”  – pg. 16 [This is actually a very refreshing statement, and it is reinforced on pages 28-31. But, notice he does say that this book is not just about prayer when he states it contains principles that will help people achieve. This is a book that mixes teaching on prayer and teachings on personal goal achievement. There is nothing wrong with personal goals. There is nothing wrong with prayer. Those are two teachings which apart and under biblical prescription are fine, but to set them on par in the same book, as if they are equivalent and reciprocal is very dangerous… because it makes it hard for the learner to tell what is mere personal goal setting and what is true (surrendered) prayer and supplication for sanctification, and prayer that is needs based. Food and clothing is all that God guarantees to supply, and Jesus and Paul said to be content with that! 1 Tim. 6:8; Luke 12:31]

7. “God isn’t offended by big dreams; He’s offended by anything less.” – pg. 57 [This is a restatement of pt. 1 above but with a twist. God cannot be offended by “small dreams,” if they are His will. The grandiose size of a dream offends God if it is full of self and unholy motives (which are admittedly hard to discern on our own). Let’s avoid making universal and superlative statements without contextual backing from well-interpreted Scripture. Why is this important? Because even if one’s motives are pure to begin with, the false notion that one must somehow become bigger-visioned in order to please God subtly starts to sow the seeds of discontent, feelings of insignificance, comparison, an egocentric view of God’s work (you at the center of God’s plans), narcissistic interpretation of others’ corrections and of Scripture, and exaggerated focus on desires. These are the wiles of the devil.]

V. While Mark Batterson literally applies the legend of Honi the Circle Maker, he allegorically applies the Bible’s true and historical Jericho account and the Promised Land & misinterprets Numbers and Exodus as well as parables to further advance/or confuse “self” interests with prayer.

A. “What is your Jericho? What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life revolve around?” – pg. 24, 38 [A consensus on the proper interpretation of the Conquest of the Promised Land for NT believers, according to evangelical protestant theologians (and withstanding varying covenantal or dispensational views), is overcoming Canaan is SPIRITUAL warfare for spiritual blessing in order to enter into either grace-based salvation or grace-based living–NOT “dreams that our lives revolve around” or even promises that we are ‘naming and claiming.’]

B. “Now, here’s the problem: most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want.” – pg. 24 [WHOA! The whole Bible, but particularly the book of James, indicates that humans know what they want all too well. Furthermore, God reveals that we don’t get what we want from Him for 2 reasons: we don’t ask at all–faithlessness; or, we ask based solely on our own will and desires. And, James calls those two things spiritual adultery and friendship with the world, because all they do is produce comparison, fighting and warring with one another and a state of opposition to God (James 4).]

C. “We’ve never written down a list of life goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. Instead of drawing circles, we draw blanks.” – pg 24 [nope, same as “B” directly above: success to every natural mind will look like: “affluence & influence.” One may be guilty of not actually sitting down and writing down personal goals, but we need to be sure that when we do write down goals and define success, it is biblical. Mr. Batterson does a good job of this on some pages but confuses the issue on others like:]

1. “What do you want me to do for you?” pg. 24-27 [It is not safe to leave this question open-ended. We must take the miracles Jesus (or Apostles) performed (i.e. healing the blind man) IN CONTEXT of how and why and the writers present them. Only then can we expect the same miracles in our own lives.]

2. “If you have cancer, it is spelled healing.” [well, maybe, maybe not: ex. Paul] If your child is far from God, it’s spelled salvation. [definitely! we ought to pray that all come to the knowledge of the truth.] “If your marriage if falling apart, it’s spelled reconciliation.” [Ok] “If you have a vision beyond your resources, it is spelled provision.” – pg. 25 [Perhaps. It depends on the vision being the exact plan of God for you and His kingdom. You can always dream, like David dreamed the Temple in order to bless God, but like David was corrected by Nathan, we must submit to God’s redirection if some aspect or the entire plan is not His will. It all comes down to surrender and His glory and His way above what I can desire or dream up.]

D.  I must say that pages 28-31 is very refreshing. One word needed, though… Consistency.

VI. The whole premise of Chapter 5, “Cloudy with a Chance of Quail” is sorely misleading.

A. The miracle of the quail is cited without reference. It could be that the author refers to Ex. 16 or Numbers 11. When one checks the references and reads them in context, he comes to a shock. In Numbers 11, THE QUAIL WERE NOT A BLESSING. THEY WERE A CURSE TO THE COMPLAINING AND GREEDY ISRAELITES. (see pt. IV, C, 7 above)

B. The take-away here is: God may just give you what you want. You may not always like it… which is rather like what C. S. Lewis was trying to tell us about in The Magician’s Nephew: “All get what they want; they do not always like it.” No, seriously. When we complain about what we do not have or what blessings we want to have, then God is not “honored” or even amused. He is displeased. (Numbers 11:31-35; Ps. 105:40)

C. Mr. Batterson should have at least cited the source, if not given a balanced teaching/warning that one can obtain by comparing the two accounts of miraculous quail provision.

D. On pg. 54-55, the author directly quotes the wording of the Numbers 11 passage, but he makes no mention of God’s according judgement on greed and complaining.

E. On pg. 56, Batterson lifts the Parable of the Sower & Soils out of context and inserts narcigesis, in direct opposition to what Jesus says the parable teaches. Again, he does not reference his passage. But, this parable comes out of Mark 4:8 and is explained BY JESUS in vv. 13-20. It has nothing to do with God’s promising a building. It does have to do with whether one’s own life receives the Word and allows the Word to produce fruit (like the Word, Jesus) in one’s life… or, does one let TRIALS and CARES and PERSECUTION and WORRIES OF THE WORLD and DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES and the DESIRES FOR OTHER THINGS enter in and choke the Word, rendering it unfruitful. Given the curse of the quail, the parable of the soils, and warnings by Paul to Timothy (1 Tim. 6:6-10) about desiring to be rich, I find it hard to accept Batterson’s teaching.

VII. Chapter 7 largely misrepresents Number 11:23 and A. W. Tozer on a “high view of God.”

A. “Is there a limit to my power?” – pp 73-75 [There is no limit to God’s power. But, this is not an invitation to exploit or tempt God. It is written, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” This was Jesus’ saying when the devil “commanded” Jesus to turn stones into bread in order to meet even his most basic need–hunger. Oh, that we would be like Jesus and realize that “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The man of God, like Jesus, fears to step out of God’s Word, God’s ways, and God’s timing.]

B. “A. W. Tozer believed that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils, but a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand temporal problems.” – pg. 73 [Again, Batterson does not cite or footnote. Actually the context of the teachings and the quote from Tozer goes something like this:]

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God. –A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

 Quite the opposite affect, don’t you think?


[Note: with all of the corrective teaching that Jesus had to do in Matthew 5-7, and with all of the hatred of Jesus’ claiming to be the Son of God, it seems like a good portion of Jesus’ teaching flies directly in the face of Honi the Circle Maker’s teaching (by example) and by Honi’s self-proclamations as the son of God. And this would be reasonable, because Honi lived around 65 B.C… just one generation before Christ.] 

Showing in pictures how "The Circle Maker" practice is occult/Wiccan

(This article, in pdf format, retains the links, in blue type, so you can click and follow them to the material referred to).

Who is Mark Batterson?

By Richard Haas

Mark Batterson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Naperville, Illinois.  Mark is married to Lora, and they moved to Washington, DC in 1994, to direct an inner-city ministry. Batterson earned a Bachelor's degree from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, and has two Masters Degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, Illinois. Starting in 1996, Batterson has served the as "lead pastor" of National Community Church in Washington, D.C.  National Community Church was recognized as one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008.(1)

As if being a pastor is not busy enough Batterson, in true emergent style tries to cast his fame and exceeds his pastorate position by authoring multiple books, including us In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day(2),   Wild Goose Chase(3), and Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity(4).   His latest and most erroneous writing is "The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears"(5) which hit book stores this last December 2011. Seems to me if he would spend less time writing and more time being a pastor he may be a better pastor but that would go against the Emergent Pastor protocol to actually feed the members of their church.

Mark Batterson is your typical Emergent "Seeker Friendly" pastor by which if you mean typical by the way he commandeers Scripture and twists it to mean what it is not. Batterson is guilty of falling into the trap that most Emerging Pastors fall into; the pit of narcissistic eisegesis.  That is to reading oneself into biblical text that has nothing to do with that person, situation or church.  His typical Sunday message resonates more about social justice and biblical obfuscation than actual solid exegesis of biblical Scriptures.  When preaching he is of guilty of “Long Law” preaching.  In other words, he is preaching more on the Law making the Law take the place over the Gospel. This can be seen in many of sermon series, including in his most recent one entitle “IF” which can be found at http://goo.gl/epdsS.  

This sermon series is base on “IF” you do these certain things than God will…. The use of the word “IF” turns God’s love in these sermons to conditions based on our obedience to Him in order for Him to love us. This is not the Gospel neither is this the truth of God’s Word. God’s love is not dependent on us and what we do.  God has foreknown His elect before time; Romans 8:28.  If this was the case, their would be no Grace. Batterson’s “IF” series violates the very tenants of Scripture and teaching on what the Grace and unconditional love of God is. 

The Apostle Paul carefully lays out how we as New Testament Christians are to handle the Law while addressing the Galatian church in Chapter 3 of the book of Galatians.  Paul says the following:

  • Galatians  3:10  For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."  11  Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12  But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them."  13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14  so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.  15  To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.  16  Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.  17  This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18  For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19  Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20  Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21  Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  22  But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  25  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,  26  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. 

As you tell from the Apostle Paul's writing the way we are to handle the Law as New Testament Christians is not the way Mark Batterson handles it or preaches how to handle it from his pulpit. 

Batterson is also guilty of associations with new age mystics and teachings and openly supports their writings and philosophies, which would explain a lot of his new age philosophies and principles in his preaching at NCC and in his books. 

Back in April of 2008, Mark Batterson, pointed readers on his website to Eckhart Tolle, a New Age guru who is has been heralded by Oprah Winfrey. Batterson says that Tolle’s book, Practicing the Power of Now, is “instrumental in the way I think about life.” 

His public reading list also includes several other New Agers and mystics: Jack Canfield, Daniel Goleman (The Meditative Mind), Gary Thomas (Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways), Leonard Sweet, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, along with several others. (6).

In another typical almost now comical Emergent swagger, Batterson violates one of the basic characteristics of being a pastor, that is to be above reproach as found in 1 Timothy 3:2 and in Titus 1:7. According to Ken Silva, pastor-teacher and author of Apprising Ministries in his article entitled “THE COMMENTS THAT MARK BATTERSON DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE”  Batterson when questioned by Silva in a blog comment, erased the questioning and called Silva a “Pharisee”. The full article can be found at  http://goo.gl/dKc5G.  Thus proving that Batterson believes he is above reproach. 

This type of attitude, as seen above, is typical of not only Batterson but many of his emergent cohorts. This type of “don’t touch the visionary” leadership can not only be found at National Community Church but many other “seeker friendly” churches that elevate the pastor over the Word of God, to the level of Fuehrer. One way of achieving this is to use “multi-site” locations like used at NCC.


Multi-site locations, if you are not familiar with them, are when you have one church and with one pastor that is simulcast to multi locations thus making many little “churches”. In this set up you have one pastor that leaded all locations and no pastors at those other locations thus leading to a figurative CEO Pastor figure-head that has reign over all sites and power. This type of site control allows complete control over each site and thus allowing that one pastor to project his “vision” of what the church should be to everyone with out a challenged. This use of “multi-site” campuses can lead to a dangerous a style of pastor-worship in which what the pastor says and what his “vision” calls for, supersedes what the bible teaches. Batterson seems to make use of this “multi-site” style a preaching with much effectiveness.

Over all Batterson is your typical “vision,”  "seeker friendly" oriented pastor who follows the lead of his special “vision” from God that trumps the written Word of God. If you are attending National Community Church in DC, or any of it’s multi-sites, be very leery of Batterson and his teachings and promotion of Law over Gospel. While the Law is good for showing us our sins it won’t save you only preaching Christ died, buried and resurrected; in other words the Gospel will save you.  Preaching the Law all the time will only leave you entrenched in your sins.

[1] America’s 25 Most Innovative Churches of 2008

[2]  Chase The Lion

[3]  Wild Goose Chase

[4]  Primal

[5] The Circle Maker

[6] http://evangelists.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/erwin-mcmanus-awaken-2008-speaker-promotes-eckhart-tolle/