I have been reading the book, "The Circle Maker" along with my Bible Study group. The book begins with the story of Honi, described as an eccentric sage who believed that God would hear his prayers for rain during a devastating drought. Honi drew a circle with his six-foot staff and dropped to his knees inside the circle and raised his hands to the heavens and said: "Lord of the universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon Your children."
In the story, Mark Batterson, the author tells us as Honi's prayers ascended to the heavens raindrops descended to earth. Honi continued to pray inside his circle for the rain to continue and it did...tangible evidence of God's grace. As I sat and read this I have to admit that I know my personal prayer life falls short. I need to pray bold prayers if I truly want to see God move in my life, but first I always need to discern His will. And then pray circles around His promises.
As a child I went to Catholic school and was taught to pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be using a rosary. I remember as a twelve year-old going to my maternal grandmother's every day after school and having to say the rosary with her. My grandfather had died the year I turned 12 and my Vavo told me that we had to pray him out of Purgatory. This went on for months and one day I asked her: "so, how do we know when he is out and in heaven?" Her response, we don't so we have to pray the rosary until we die. I know that my Vavo prayed for my grandfather until the day God took her home. I guess what stands out to me now is her persistence...she never gave up.
In the book, Mark Batterson says: "most of us don't get what we want because we don't know what we want. And the secondary problem is this: we quit circling. We give up too easily." I don't want to give up...I want to be like my Vavo and pray without ceasing for the miracles God can perform in my life and in the lives of those I love.
I want to pray bold prayers and seek God's will for every area of my life. My desire is to live a life that pleases Him...where I live in holy anticipation of all that He will do as I yield my life to Him. Jermeiah 29:11 says: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Often, people stop at that verse and think to themselves...that's great God wants us to live prosperous lives and no harm will come...but verses 12 and 13 need to also be read with verse 11..."Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
We have a role...we are to call on God through prayer...God promises that He will listen. We are also to seek Him and we will find Him when we follow after Him with all of our hearts. Our plans need to be bathed in prayer if they are to succeed. I know that some who read this will say: "I make plans, I do what I want to do and everything turns out just fine. I don't need to add God to the mix...life is going great. I think it all depends on what success means to you. And is life really fine?
Does what you are doing make a difference for eternity? What will your children and grandchildren remember most about you? Will others know that you loved them and cherished time spent with them? What memories will you leave behind?
My sweet Vavo...my memories of her are tender and my life was blessed because I know that she prayed for me. She loved me unconditionally and always put the needs of her family before her own. I remember Friday evenings at their house...a nice warm bath in the old claw-foot tub, her braiding my hair after my bath...homemade cookies and milk and prayers before I laid down in her fluffy featherbed. I know that she loved the Lord above all else and out of that love she blessed my life.
I believe that God's goodness and mercy have followed me through my life because a woman who believed God's promises prayed with me and for me. The greatest miracle of all is that God loves us. Prayer can change circumstances, but it also changes us. My grandmother lived a good life...it was not without heartache or hardships, but she lived a prayer filled life. The decisions she made in her life are still paying dividends as her witness impacted my life and I pray that my life in some way will impact others as well.