June 30, 2021
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Like everyone else, I have my fair share of idiosyncrasies. I don’t know why, but I always set my alarm clock to an even number. An odd number would totally mess me up. I always start shaving on the right side of my face. I never drive off after pumping gas without checking my left-hand rearview mirror because the last time I did that, I pulled the gas hose that was still in my gas tank right off of the gas pump. And I always take my shoes off while I write.
Jesus had idiosyncrasies. He loved to pray early in the morning, even after a late night of ministry. And He must have felt a special closeness to his Father when He hiked mountains and walked beaches. He gravitated to those places because proximity is an important part of prayer, but it goes beyond geography; I think it also has to do with genealogy.
One of my idiosyncrasies is that I occasionally do devotions out of my grandfather’s Bible. In fact, I started this year in the book of Daniel because I was doing a Daniel fast. Toward the end of his life, my grandfather suffered from a medical condition that caused his hands to tremble so that his writing was virtually indiscernible. But based on the number of underlinings, Daniel was one of his favorite books. I’ve even heard stories of him and his brothers and cousins sitting around the table for hours on end talking about prophecies in Daniel. They were long thinkers and long talkers.
Seeing the verses that my grandfather underlined is powerful and meaningful because it helps me get into his mind and his spirit. I hope that the promises I have circled in my Bible will help my grandchildren do the same thing.
One important dimension of prayer is finding your own ritual and your own routines. Just like Daniel, you need to find your open window toward Jerusalem.
Where do you dream big?
When do you pray hard?
What helps you think long?
You need to identify the times, places, and practices that help you dream big, pray hard, and think long. When I want to dream big, I hang out at the National Gallery of Art. When I want to pray hard, I climb the ladder to the rooftop of Ebenezers Coffeehouse. When I need to think long, I take the elevator up to the sixth-floor observation gallery at the National Cathedral.
It takes time to discover the rhythms and routines that work for you. What works for others might not work for you, and what works for you might not work for others. I’ve always subscribed to a sentiment shared by Oswald Chambers: “Let God be as original with other people as He is with you.”
Drawing prayer circles is nothing more than laying our requests before God and waiting expectantly. It honestly doesn’t matter whether it’s a circle, an oval, or a trapezoid. If walking in circles helps you pray with more consistency and intensity, then make yourself dizzy. If not, then find something, find anything, that helps you to pray through.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.