September 18, 2018
In early August, I spent five days on a private spiritual retreat at a cabin in Vermont.
I set aside time that week to read a book that a pastoral colleague had recommended to me, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The title is drawn from a story about a 1st Century BC Hebrew sage named Honi. Israel was decimated by drought, and the people called upon Honi to entreat God to send rain.
His strategy was unusual to say the least. He drew a circle in the sand and committed himself to remain inside that circle and pray fervently until God answered his prayer.
Well, the rains eventually came, and Honi’s prayer circle became the stuff of legend and a model for others who bring their needs before God. The model is quite simple: draw a figurative circle around a specific prayer request and pray about it earnestly and consistently until an answer comes, even if the answer is “Not now” or “No.”
Mark Batterson urges readers to adopt this strategy in praying for their own needs, the needs of others, and the needs of their faith communities. I decided to “draw circles” of my own, and one of the circles I drew was around the challenges we presently face as a congregation. I found it helpful to spell out my concerns in detail and make my wish-list a matter of daily prayer. I shared my prayer circles for WUMC with the Church Council back in August, and I’d like to share them with all of you as well.
MY PRAYER CIRCLES FOR WUMC
1. For spiritual discernment – a commitment to seek and do God’s will, not just to do business.
2. For growth in membership for the right reasons – to share the love of Christ and offer community to others.
3. For growth in stewardship awareness and giving, resulting in a budget that is not only balanced, but broadening in its scope.
4. For a finished sanctuary that enables worshipers better to glorify God.
5. For a more outward focus, concentrating on the needs of our community, not just our own needs.
I want you to know what my hopes and dreams are for us as a congregation. I also want you to know that I’m not just thinking (or worrying!) about them. I’m also praying about them – earnestly and regularly – with every expectation that “God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
Just as important, I welcome fellow “circle makers” – faithful partners in praying for the needs of our church. What needs are foremost in your mind and heart? Will you join me in making them a matter of prayer?
Grace and peace,