In 2012, Mark Batterson released his latest book. It is called “The Circle Maker”: and the blurb says:
“The Circle Maker, ‘Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn’t just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It’s a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.’ Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer, and to God’s vision for your life, than what you’re experiencing? It’s time you learned from the legend of Honi the Circle Maker—a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and not budge from inside it until God answered his prayers for his people. What impossibly big dream is God calling you to draw a prayer circle around? Sharing inspiring stories from his own experiences as a circle maker, Mark Batterson will help 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.”
Chalk prayer circles have caught on in the Christian world, just as many other new techniques and methods for experiencing God have caught on. At the September 2012 Indianapolis True Woman Conference headed up by titans in the female evangelical world, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Eareckson Tada, those and other well-known conference speakers repeatedly urged women to pray inside a drawn or made circle, and they did so themselves.
There are so many unbiblical influences affecting the evangelical world, and some of them are so unbiblical they do not bear scrutiny. That was my stance, and was the Sola Sisters’ stance as well. They wrote this week of chalk circles:
“I have never bothered to address the problems with the book The Circle Maker, because the whole concept of “circle making” was simply so patently pagan and ridiculous on the face of it that I assumed it would be obvious to any Christian how unbiblical this book was.”
Me, too, Sister.
And yet, the influence is mounting, so the situation must be addressed. They wrote,
“Sadly however, I am getting more and more emails from people saying that their church leaders are recommending The Circle Maker, doing a Bible study with it, passing it out, etc.”
Me, too, Sister.
I am getting questions about prayer circles and chalk circles and the Circle Maker book and people are generally asking “It is OK to pray inside a chalk circle?”
Christian blogger Jamie McMullen attended the 2012 True Woman conference via simulcast and also wondered about why there was such heavy pressure to pray inside a circle. The emphasis at the Conference was a bit different than Batterson’s in that the women said that revival should start with ourselves, and that is what should be prayed for inside the circle. McMullen’s essay on the event is here. Her concern arose from the fact that despite the shift in emphasis by the women, chalk circles originate from an unbiblical message:
“Instead of calling people to revival, Mr. Batterson promotes a prosperity message that is centered on praying for God to make your hopes and dreams to come true by praying in a chalk circle or circling the promises in scripture. In his book and website, Mark Batterson, sites as his examples, Gipsy Smith and Honi the circle maker, a Jewish legend in the Talmud; who drew a circle on the ground and sat in it until God answered his prayer for rain.”
Here is Wikipedia’s explanation of who Honi was:
“During the 1st century BC, a variety of religious movements and splinter groups developed amongst the Jews in Judea. A number of individuals claimed to be miracle workers in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha, the ancient Jewish prophets. The Talmud provides some examples of such Jewish miracle workers, one of whom is Honi ha-Ma’agel, who was famous for his ability to successfully pray for rain.”
Honi’s appearance was in the first century BC, during the intertestamental period. Here is an explanation of this period:
“The intertestamental period is a term used to refer to a period of time between the writings of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament texts. Traditionally, it is considered to be a roughly four hundred year period, spanning the ministry of Malachi (c. 420 BC), the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1st century AD, almost the same period as the Second Temple period (530 BC to 70 AD). It is known by members of the Protestant community as the “400 Silent Years””
Note with diligent concentration, please, that Honi was not a biblical character. Note again that he appeared during the time when God was deliberately NOT SPEAKING. He spoke through no prophet and had performed no miracle during this time. And yet it is on this non-biblical character and this extra-biblical legend during this silent time Mr Batterson bases his entire theology and method in “The Circle Maker.”
And Christians are eating it up. Below, Conference speakers DeMoss, and others praying at True Woman Indianapolis 2012
From DeMoss’s website Revive Our Hearts, we read a transcript of some of the things that were said at the 2012 True Woman conference:
Holly Elliff: I loved that during the conference around the auditorium and in various places there were circles.
Holly: And those circles were symbolic because they represented the fact that every woman wanted to put herself there, draw a circle around her own life and say, “God, what do You want to do in me?”
Nancy (conf): And as you pass by those in the days ahead, I want to encourage you, if there is room, to just step inside one of those circles.
Joni Eareckson Tada: Because all the speakers had an opportunity to stand in it. And of course, I had an opportunity to wheel inside that circle. May revival begin with me.
True Woman simulcast participant Jamie McMullen’s concern led her to research this circle making and praying, and also to contact the conference organizers to ask if they were aware of the deep occult and pagan origins of this circle making. She wrote, “I received an email back promptly assuring me these circles are to help us visualize our commitment to God as well as give an outward showing to God that we are repentant and want revival to start with us. Then the representative stated: “No occult connections”.
However they are severely deluded as to the occult connections. The pagan connections is the point of this essay. Sola Sisters, Jamie McMullen, and Pastor Swofford did a superb job of showing why chalk circles are not biblically supported, using Bible verses, and I urge you to read their essays to see why. All the links are in one place down below.
Therefore, I am taking this issue from the occult angle. Interestingly, after three hours’ research last night I came across Pastor Jason Swofford’s work which exactly confirmed my own research as far as why and how the practice varied from the Bible, and for that I’m grateful. He is pastor of the Myers Road Baptist Church in WA and his research on prayer/chalk circles can be read here. He has two essays and a video.
Mark Batterson says in his promotional video, that we should – “Learn how to pray in a new way.” “Dream big”. “You can’t just read the Bible. You need to start circling the promises.” “Your job is not to crunch numbers and make sure the will of God adds up. Your job is to draw circles in the sand. If you draw the circle, God will multiply the miracles in your life.”
The Gnostic always ties in what you do with your spiritual success. “If you do this…God will do this…”. That is one way to tell if you are being fed a Gnostic technique.
Secondly, run fast and far from anyone who says they have come up with “a new way” to do anything regarding Christianity. God delivered His word once for all to the saints. (Jude 1:3). Moreover, Jesus was very specific when He taught us how to pray. (Matthew 6:5-15.) In Matthew 6:9 Jesus said “Pray, then, in this way”. It is not possible to get any clearer about how to pray. For Batterson to declare he is teaching us a new way directly goes against what Jesus said in the canonized and complete revelation we know as the Bible.
I believe in the power of photos so I gathered photographs from different eras and different cultures and different religions which depict people praying inside a sacred circle. Looking at the pictures it is clear that chalk circle praying is pagan.
|Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker,
demonstrating how to cast a circle
This is not a “new” thing, despite Batterson’s advertising it as such. As a matter of fact, ritual circle making is as old as the hills, and has always been unbiblical. I ask you, is Batterson’s making a chalk circle above any different from the Wiccan making a prayer circle below? Both are making a space they claim is sacred, as opposed to the space inches away outside the circle that is common. This sacred space keeps evil away, they both claim. Both claim that it is a bubble that has power and will draw down promises from on high to the benefit of the petitioner.
The man below is a Wiccan, showing how to “cast a prayer circle”. You can see he is a Wiccan, I placed an arrow atop his shrine that points to his pentacle. In Wiccan circle casting we are told that we cast a circle “to direct your energy (read – make your thoughts materialize –) …and to create a concentrated flow of energy and direct it into the informational system of the Universe. In other words, casting a circle ensures you achieve the result faster and do it safer.” This description matches Batterson’s concept completely.
In Batterson’s The Circle Maker, he promises that if read his book, “we will claim God-given promises.” He also states that “if you draw prayer circles, God will answer those prayers.” Both the Wiccan and Batterson say the same thing- draw a circle, pray to a higher power, and get results.
This is witchcraft.
Speaking of magic, Wikipedia explains what a “magic circle is. “A solomonic magic circle with a triangle of conjuration in the east. This would be drawn on the ground, and the operator would stand within the protection of the circle while a spirit was conjured into the triangle.” Wikipedia, Magic Circle
That explanation is no different from Revive Our Hearts’ email response noted above, that we should stand inside a circle, visualize, and call on the Spirit for what we want. No. Different.
This is conjuring.
“A prayer circle in Hinduism is a Mandala. “a mandala is a circle used in prayer. It is a kind of diagram. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.”
Did you catch that “focusing attention” reason of the mandala’s use in Hinduism? The same thing the Christian prayer circle was said to promote, “to visualize our commitment.”
The photos below are explained thus: In Hinduism, Human beings with their finite instruments of knowledge, cannot conceive of the formless Infinite. So the use of images aids concentration. Last month, we had performed a ‘Graha shanthi homa’ in our home. As part of the prayers to the Sun God, a beautiful mandala was drawn on the floor in front of the puja room.
Native Americans pray inside a medicine wheel.
In the photo below, Native American Sacred Wheel (Shaman), “Paul Davids by the Medicine Wheel that overlooks Boynton Canyon, Sedona, where Rahelio explains the wheel’s sacred mysteries and powers for prayer.”
Druids prayed inside a sacred circle –
Here is a Mystic praying in a circle-
|Photo Laura Briedis
Here are Buddhists praying at a circle-
The most potent objection to sacred circles in my opinion is their origin from Wicca. In Witchcraft we learn how to cast a circle, something in the photo way above I’d posted.
Below, a Witch coven in the 1940s.
Prayer labyrinths are also similar to chalk circles.
Above, people walk the Saffron Walden turf labyrinth in Essex England.
1. Whenever someone says they have a NEW way of doing Christianity, run. This includes a new way to fast, a new way to pray, a new way to experience God, a new way to do church … I say run, because Jesus outlined what to do via the Spirit in the Bible. It is all there before us. There are no new ways. There is only THE way.
2. Whenever someone discounts the Bible implicitly or explicitly, run. Mr Batterson had said, “You can’t just read the Bible. You need to start circling the promises.” He has added a work, and this implicitly says the Bible isn’t enough.
3. Ritual/Idol/Activity – Whenever someone says you have to perform some activity to get God’s notice, run.
4. Gnosticism always implies the author has either a secret knowledge or a hierarchy to get closer to God and is revealing it for the first time now. Batterson said if you perform circle casting, the following will occur- “the CLOSER you get to God the BIGGER your dreams get.” I don’t know how much closer we can get to God than having Him INSIDE us.
5. Beware of people who use personal examples and not the Bible to “prove” their new method works.
The bad news…”The Circle Maker for Kids” is being released on August 6.
God condemns idolatry:
“Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.” (Isaiah 57:8)
Sorceries have always been condemned in the Bible and we are told that even at the end during the Tribulation they will have been going strong:
“nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:21)
I hope you can see by now that despite Batterson’s claim that this circle praying isn’t a ritual, it is. I hope you can see by now that despite the True Woman conference people saying it has no link to the occult, they are wrong. I hope you have read enough to see that if the book or Bible study is presented at your church, you can refuse on solid grounds. It never originated from the Bible, and therefore is not profitable for us.
Here are more links to read thoughtful and biblical explanations as to why, when it comes to praying inside a circle, you should leave the practice alone and stick to Matthew 6.
Jason Swofford, Myers Road Baptist Church in WA–
Mark Batterson is promoting ritual magic
The Circle Maker Exposed: One Long Comment From The Circle Maker Addressed
The Circle Maker Exposed
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Endorsing Chalk Circles? Mercy.
The Circle Maker book review
Jamie McMullen, Christian blogger, The Velvet Covered Brick