Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson {Book Review}

Praying Circles Around Your ChildrenBook Two StarsPraying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

THE OVERVIEW:

Praying Circles Around Your Kids is a short book that takes the principles of his previous book – The Circle Maker – and applies them to praying for your children. Batterson combines his personal thoughts with Scripture along with tips to apply what you learn as you read. The main point of this book is praying for your children, but this book could also be read by grandparents and others involved in the lives of children.

THE READABILITY:

As I already mentioned, this is a short book – a mere 103 pages – and can be read in about two hours of time. The author writes from a personal viewpoint so you feel like you’re having a chat rather than just reading an essay. Batterson shares many personal stories and gives a variety of examples that keep it interesting. I have not read his first book, so I’m not sure if you should read that first or not to understand the whole “circling” principle, but in this book I felt that it was a bit vague. And since 5 of the 9 chapters where about “5 Circles”, the flow was fairly rough.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

I agree with Batterson that prayer is the first step in solving problems and I also liked the whole focus on the importance of praying for our children. This is something that too often we easily let slip.

The section titled “Love Girls” found on page 50 was probably my favorite part of this book. He talks about praying for his children in light of a culture that perverts sexual orientation from God’s loving plan. His application of Psalm 37:4 in this section is right on and sound Biblical counsel. He soundly addresses something that needs to be said a whole lot more!

I also appreciated the practical examples and tips on praying for your kids or incorporating prayer into their lives. For example, he highly encourages you to pray with your children, not just for your children.

THE DOWNSIDE:

Unfortunately, the “downside” points of this book far out weigh the good points. While I agree that prayer is important and we each need to grow in this area of spiritual discipline, I feel that this book treats prayer more like a tool than part of a relationship. Prayer isn’t about getting what we want, it’s about a relationship with Christ and it’s part of the process of changing our desires to be God’s desires for us.

Several specific points that I disagree with are as follows:
– On page 40 he says: “When you catch them doing something wrong, gently rebuke them. Lovingly remind them: that’s not who you are.” While I agree that we should lovingly correct our children, I also believe that according to the Bible we (and children) need to be reminded that they are sinners in need of a Savior. We have all fallen and the gospel is appealing not when we think about how good we are, but about how amazing the Savior is.
– Batterson talks through out this book as if the children we are praying for our saved. I am sure many are, but I am also sure many are not – including my own three. There is a distinct difference in how you should pray for an unsaved person and in how you should pray for a believer and that is not addressed here.
– On page 48 he talks about searching the Bible for every verse that mentioned the word “confident” and using those verses to pray over one of his children. This would mean pulling verses out of context. Need I really say more on this?
– Also on page 50 (just before the part I actually liked) he says: “Irrational fears only submit to prayer.” He goes on to quote Philippians 4:6-7 and says that: “When we circle the promises of God, those promises then encircle us.” Let me quickly explain two things- (1) the promise he mentions is found in verse 7 and is linked to a command found in verse 6, and (2) he doesn’t quote verse 8 which tells us that changing our thinking – which controls our fears – is a major part in overcoming fear…NOT just prayer…NOT only prayer.

Sadly, I could go on…but I won’t.

THE RECOMMENDATION:

As you may have already concluded, my recommendation for this book is to read it with GREAT discernment. And quite honestly, in my opinion the downside of this book so highly out weights the good points that I can’t encourage you to read it at all.

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{I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Zondervan but the opinion is my own.}

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