My pastor, Pastor David, started a series on the book The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church is Washington, D.C.
The heart of the message on Sunday looked at the legend of The Circle Maker a man named Honi ha-M’agel. The story of Honi (“hoe-knee”) revolves around an event where he drew a circle with his staff and prayed that God would send rain to help put an end to the drought that was ravaging the land.
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.
He was almost put into cherem (excommunication) for the above incident in which he showed “dishonor” to God. However, Shimon ben Shetach, the brother of Queen Shlomtzion, excused him, saying that he was Honi and had a special relationship with God. [Source]
The impression that I was left with after the story was that this was a very brash and ostentatious way of praying. I do not think that I have ever, in my life, talked to God that way. And that is exactly what we learn from Honi. Honi was not demanding for God answer to him, but that God was more than capable to do what no one else could. That is a very different way of thinking about prayer and why we pray. We have to believe that God can do what he promises because if we do not, then what are we doing praying at all?
Pastor David challenged us to realize that we were not praying bold enough if we are praying for things that we can accomplish on our own, in our own strength. I have heard this often in the church. I get it. It is a challenge to trust God more and more. But, do you know what really struck me as I was listening to Pastor David? What about me? Am I praying that God would conform me into the image of Jesus? Am I praying that God would change my heart, mind, attitudes, emotions and values?
You see, one of the dangers of praying for “BIG” things is that the biggest thing gets overlooked because “I have it under control.” This is a terrible mistake. I can not change who I am, save myself, or even guarantee the next moment of my life, and we want to pray boldly about “big” things. What could be bigger than being the person that Jesus died for us to be?
Pastor David was right, my prayers are not big and bold enough. But, I left with the impression that the subject of those prayers, at least for me, is not those “big” things “out there,” but the big things inside my own heart. I know that this is my tendency, to look inside rather than out. What I have realized is that I want to be the person that prays bigger and bolder prayers because I do believe that God WILL, not just another a person who prays big prayers because I think God CAN.