People honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me
What do Mark Batterson, Nancy DeMoss, and Priscilla Shirer have in common?
They have all taught people to draw circles, stand inside and pray for something. Now, I’m not going to rehash all the articles about circle making because I believe the word has gotten out about how very unbiblical Circle Making is, so your welcome. The fad wore off soon after true biblical brothers and sisters started addressing the subject.
Just to quickly recap for those that may not have ever heard of Circle Making, it’s the practice of many Christians by making a circle on the ground by drawing it in the dirt or using tape or whatever and then stand inside the circle and ask God for something.
I mentioned above 3 people that have held teaching on Circle Making and I would like to point out how they teach it and why.
Now, to start off with I want to explain how Mark Batterson was the first in modern days to write about Circle Making.
I’ll quote from this article titled, “The Origins and Evolution of Prayer Circles”,
“In his book, Batterson states that it was Gipsy Smith who inspired him to write the book, which is a retelling of the story of Honi the Circle Maker, a Jewish miracle worker. According to the legend, a group of Jews came to Honi and asked him to pray to God to make it rain and end the drought they were experiencing. Honi prayed, but the rain did not come. So Honi drew a circle on the ground and stood within it and prayed again. This time a very light rain started. Honi was not satisfied so he prayed again to God, saying, “This is not that rain that I prayed for! I prayed for rain that will fill the cisterns!” Then it began to rain very, very hard. Again, Honi stood in his circle and prayed to God, saying, “I did not pray for such a hard rain, but a good rain!” and then it began to rain moderately. One of the Israelites then said to Honi, “You entreat God, and He performs your will!”
“Batterson has taken the pagan ritual of Gipsy Smith, and the legend of Honi the Circle Maker, and thrown in a dash of prosperity gospel to create his various “Circle Maker” books which have sold well throughout the Church, influencing hundreds of churches and Christians. One of the more influential followers of Batterson’s false “Circle Maker” teaching is Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham. Lotz is so enamored with Batterson’s teaching that she has threatened to shut down at least one website that called for her to repent of it.”
So, you’ll see how the newest fad of modern times of Circle Making came from Batterson’s book.
I have to say though the section where the man named Honi seems to push his own weight around with God is a bit cringe. He speaks to God as if he himself is God’s Boss. For example, the first time Honi prayed and it rained he sounds a bit annoyed that God got it wrong. It says in the write-up that he prayed again to God, saying, “This is not that rain that I prayed for! I prayed for rain that will fill the cisterns!”.
I just feel as if this is a correction to God as if Honi is saying God messed up. So, the second time Honi prays again… “Then it began to rain very, very hard. Again, Honi stood in his circle and prayed to God, saying, “I did not pray for such a hard rain, but a good rain!” and then it began to rain moderately.” This appears to really frustrate Honi and he again corrects God. I find this very disrespectful for Honi to talk to the Lord in such away. Honi is not calling the shots, God is, so who is he to address a Holy and Righteous God the Creator of all the living in such a way that makes him look like a spoiled child.
Why would Batterson not see how disturbing this guy’s attitude towards God is?
So shortly after Mark Batterson’s book, you can see how others start practicing circle making and bringing it into their life.
Mark says you can draw a circle with chalk 3 times, stands inside, and prays for any situation you are facing. In his book review, it asks “what impossibly big dream is God calling you to draw a prayer circle around?”
Answer: Nothing! God does not call us to draw circles around any dream or situation we have.
Take note that there are two different men involved in the making of this very old story that Mark talks about, Honi and Gipsy Smith. Honi is the man that was asked to pray for rain and then Gipsy Smith the man that follows in Honi’s footsteps teach it as a place to pray for revival.
Next we have Nancy DeMoss, she’s a woman that picked up Circle Making after it became popular and introduced it into her women conferences. Nancy DeMoss tells the same story on the very first night of her conference about the man named Gypsi Smith that made a circle and stood inside it and prayed.
An article titled, “Nancy Leigh DeMoss Endorsing Chalk Circles? Mercy” quotes this: “Nancy Leigh DeMoss also spoke at a True Woman Conference in September 2012, and according to an article on the True Woman website, chalk circles were drawn throughout the conference room, and participants of the conference were encouraged to utilize these circles for prayer. And as a clever little marketing tie-in, the participants were sent home after the conference with little goody bags containing, that’s right, chalk, so that they could all go home and perform their own pagan rituals, umm, prayer circles.”
Quotes from it say, “Nancy (conf): And to step inside that circle and say, “Lord, would You send revival to my family? Would You send revival to my church? Would You send an awakening to our nation, to our world? We desperately need it. But oh, Lord, would You start the revival inside this circle? Let it begin in me.
Janet: So let me tell you what happened for me as a speaker when I stepped into that circle. I was under very strong conviction. David said, “My sins are ever before me.” That’s what I felt when I was in that circle. I thought, “Lord, I’m not here to teach these women. I’m here to seek Your face.”
Janet (conf): The point here is Jesus. He’s defying convention. He’s moving deeper into the life of a woman who had some pretty dark secrets, and she’s more thirsty than she can even imagine or knows herself. So Jesus responds. And He says, “Everyone who drinks this water [referring to the well] will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” What a message! What a Teacher!
Janet: And standing in this circle I am very aware of my own sins. And what I want more than anything is to walk away from this experience saying, “Lord, I’ve had a wash, rinse, and spin cycle. My sins have been blotted out. I have a fresh start and a new beginning, and I want to seek Him as Nancy was teaching us. Not once every five years but moment by moment every single day. That’s the only way I can keep my ledger short. That’s the only way I can constantly say “Lord, if there’s going to be revival, I want it so desperately to begin with me. Revive my heart. Change me, Lord. Let me be aware of what You’ve done in my life.”
They are saying being inside the circle “you will feel something“, “you are in the circle to seek God“, “you are asking God to revive you and change you in the circle“.
Now, none of that sounds bad but what I want to ask everyone is, do we seek God in a circle on the ground or do we seek God in His Word? Are we supposed to be led by our feelings and how we “feel” in the circle or by the Truth of God’s Word? Do we change our hearts by standing inside a circle and asking God to revive or change us or do we change our hearts by reading God’s Word?
It seems to me, that the focus is on circle making not praying and asking God for something.
I truly believe the focus solely needs to be on God and His Word. We can pray for revival but don’t make it a ritual or action to get something.
In a report about the conference is found in this link below: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/podcast/revive-our-hearts/report-true-woman-12/
The next teacher I mentioned was Priscilla Shirer (You can see her in the picture with Nancy DeMoss) and, in the video of Priscilla, she tells her audience she got the teaching from Nancy DeMoss. Priscilla tells the same exact story as Nancy did but Nancy gives the name of the man ‘Gipsy Smith’ and Priscilla doesn’t. She just says he’s a preacher yet Mark tells the story from Honi. So, what I’m trying to say is we see all of them teach circle making just a bit different to their audience but all of them still point to the circles as the focus in order to bring God’s blessing.
The only other place I’ve seen “Circle Making” was in witchcraft.
Witches practiced these rituals for protection or whatever they needed at the time but instead of calling it “Circle Making”, they call it the “Circle of Protection” or “Magic Circle”. In an article on circles, they explain a little of how witches do this practice. The link below says, “One of the most basic devices used in ancient pagan spirituality is the “circle of protection.” You find it everywhere from the Eastern mystery religions to modern witchcraft. The circle of protection was commonly used in old Gypsy magic, as it was thought to create an impenetrable barrier of protection around those in which it was created. This “magic” circle, spiritual in nature, could be something physical, such as lines drawn in the dirt or sand, or even a sprinkling of salt. But they could also be imaginary.”
Just like what Mark, Nancy, and Priscilla teach, we can see that witches also require making a circle on the ground, getting inside it, and doing something to get something like protection.
You should know Circle Making does NOT come from the Scriptures. You can look but you will not find God teaching it anywhere in the Scriptures.
As I researched this subject one of the many articles, I read that I felt makes excellent points was Tim Challies’ article called, “Don’t Pray in Circles “. Simply put he discuss circle making as… Extra-Biblical, Un-Biblical, and Anti-Biblical.
Oddly enough at the very end of his article, he does make a point to tell his readers that he is only talking about Mark Batterson and not Nancy DeMoss. I found that to be very odd. You can read the article in this link below.
Now, because Priscilla learned it from Nancy then people believe Priscilla shouldn’t be lumped in with the review that Challies said about Mark either.
Watch this link below of Priscilla Shirer’s video on circles. https://youtu.be/yEgiyC2Oz_Q
Now, Priscilla knows Mark Batterson and has even shared a stage with Mark Batterson in conferences as you can see in this photo below.
Priscilla also enjoys going to listen to Mark Batterson preach as we see with this tweet, she sends out saying: “Show me your prayer life…and I’ll show you your future.” @MarkBatterson teaching us on prayer this AM.”https://twitter.com/PriscillaSh…/status/894961322734919680
So, I wonder if Priscilla even has a problem with Mark’s teaching of it. I am very troubled by the fact that Tim Challies felt he should make that statement.
Am I the only one that thinks what they all teach is the same? Believing that circles make a difference in your prayer life to receive answered prayers. Mark believes it makes the impossible happen in your life, Nancy believes it gets us revivals and awakenings to the World and Janet says she felt something when she stepped inside of it and it changes you. Priscilla talks of what God wants to do through us and to pray in the circle for a revival of our hearts of the things of God.
But doesn’t this sound like they are practicing man-made traditions? They are all following the lead of a man long ago. God says in Mark 7: 1-13~” Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
This is a great example that God shows us about how man loves to have traditions of things passed down form long ago. Even just washing hands or pots is seen as man-made traditions that God doesn’t care for or call all us to practice. God says people honor Him with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. That should cause great concern in the things we practice even something as simple as circle making or hand washing.
Priscilla has even written a reply to her fans about the photos they have sent to her showing her the circles they made. Many have used very different things to make the circles. In the link below it shows pictures of women inside circles made of socks, chalk, balls, and even kids (the circle was made from the kids laying down, head to toe with other kids while the mom stood inside to pray). Now that seems to be someone that is very sold on the idea otherwise, she’s making light of the practice that Priscilla has taken seriously or she wouldn’t have taught it.
Now, I wouldn’t say that making a circle is wrong or standing in a circle is a bad thing or even washing hands or a pot are taboo. It’s when they put a lot of focus on them and connect it to God. They are causing people to feel there is an importance to this action.
Many people miss the danger of this practice because they make it sound so good and biblical. People have said things like, “the circle is a reminder to youto ask God to start by helping you”, sound good, doesn’t it? What about this, “the circle helps people to start by looking at their own lives“, yeah this sounds good too. The circle teaches a good biblical principle on how to pray”, or “The circle thing is only a way of drawing attention to revivals“. How do any of those sound bad? They don’t but when you stop to truly think about what it is, they are teaching you and what they are asking you to do it should cause you to worry, especially when it’s not in Scriptures.
What I would like to point out is how easy it is to be deceived by false teachers that use slick words or actions to get you to believe in and participate stuff like Circle Making. How have others gotten caught up in it? Well, from their carefully spoken words. In Priscilla’s reply to her followers, she tells them that, “you have made it priority to create a circle in which to stand and pray”.
“Your circle – no matter what it looks like, how long it has stayed intact or who has gotten into it with you – matters!”
She so subtly speaks to the women that because they make the circles priority and telling the women the circles matter it makes them feel special. Mark, Nancy and Priscilla all know how to convince people to believe in this just by how they talk. They say things that are exciting like do this or that and wonderful things will happen, God is going to do great things through you. This is why they all tell the story about the man that prayed on the outskirts of town and got what he prayed for so why not you?
If you find yourself in a conference like that then just ask questions about the things they are saying. Do you think circles make a difference in your prayers? Do you believe they matter? Do they make God realize how serious you are? Do we need reminders like that? Are they reminders or just acts of works? If I do this then God will answer kind of belief. After all, isn’t that what Honi did as he prayed for rain?
I just have to say, NO! We shouldn’t be making circles, or squares, or ovals priority at all. Priscilla Shirer is wrong; God needs to be priority in our lives, not Circle Making. And NO, Priscilla, Circle Making doesn’t matter. What matters is our salvation, the condition of our hearts, and our desire for the Lord and for His Word and Truth, not circles.
All any of those teachers taught their audience is how to either pray for rain, a dream, a revival, and that it is a priority and that it matters. Where’s the Word of God? Did God teach us to pray this way? How does Circle Making bring us closer to God, or even help us know the Gospel or convict us to repent of our sins? You see, false teachers know how to “talk the talk” because they know how to speak as a seasoned scholar and knows all the right words to use. They can quote scriptures better than most people you know but we need to realize just because a person can quote scriptures doesn’t mean they are biblical because Satan knows the Bible better than anyone on earth and he’s working on us just like he did with Jesus. Satan used scriptures to try and tempt Jesus and he will do it to tempt and deceive us too. This is why we must test, test, test!
1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV~ But test everything; hold fast what is good.
So we see how Mark, Nancy, and Priscilla say to pray but how does God tell us to pray?
The Bible says in Luke 5:16 that Jesus often went away to be by Himself and pray. Matthew 6:5-6 says ~“When you pray, go into your room. Close the door and pray to your Father, who can’t be seen. He will reward you. Your Father sees what is done secretly.” Matthew 6:9-13~ “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”’