Praying in Circles on a Wild Goose Chase

IMG_0429If you’re thinking that praying in circles is something of a wild goose chase you might just be right!

As I think hard on the past twenty-eight years of my daughter Texas’ addiction and what I’ve learned, I believe those two things would be at the top of my list. But not for the reasons you might suspect.

Over the last four years I’ve become a huge fan of Mark Batterson. Maybe fan isn’t exactly the best word. I love the way he writes and especially the humorous but pointed way he succinctly communicates truth.

His first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, helped me face the path I’m on with more courage.  Mark takes an obscure verse, one I’ve passed over many times, and extracts a whole book out of it. The little excerpt I posted at beginning of this year about “Chasing the Lion” came from that book.

Mark’s second book is Wild Goose Chase and the title arrested me because the name of our 501 (C) (3) is Wild Goose Ministries. A name we chose long before his book release because of the Celtic idea of the Holy Spirit being much like a wild goose – untamable, wild, unpredictable – a discomforter as well as a comforter.

Loving someone strongly and faithfully who is an addict is about as comfortable as putting toothpicks under your nails. Yet I’ve come to rely on the truth that while I’ve been ripped from ease many times I’ve come to know that my heart goes where the Wild Goose goes. He is ever working all things for our good. Because he is good – always good. Do you believe that?

But it’s Mark’s latest book, The Circle Maker, that has rocked our petitions and infused new creativity into how we pray. We’re doing it as a study in our small group and it’s expanded everyone’s idea of how to pray and what to pray for. images

When I read the first chapter, Texas was in jail. After two weeks away from drugs she morphed back into the daughter I know and love. She knows I’m writing a book about all this and she expressed a desire to contribute a chapter or two.

My heart made a little leap as I thought about how powerful it would be to read a book where the addict speaks about their experience. But she had no paper in the jail and because of fines she owes, she had no money with which to purchase paper. If any of us sent money, which we weren’t inclined to do anyway, it would go directly to the court.

Mark shares a story in the opening of the book about Honi, the circle maker. An eccentric Jewish sage of the first century, he lived during that time when there had been no prophet in Israel for four centuries. He also found himself in a great drought that threatened to destroy all life in Jerusalem.

So Honi drew a circle in the sand and told God he would not leave the circle until it rained. When the drops began to fall he added a P.S. to his prayer: “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.” 

There’s a lot more to the story, but well…you better get the book.Unknown

After reading just that first chapter, the next day as I prayed for Texas I thought about the paper she needed.  Mark had also mentioned that there comes a time, when you’ve prayed a very long time for something, that you must begin to just thank God for the answer and not ask anymore. Keep thanking him for what he’s doing, how he’s providing, what wonders he’s working in the hearts of those you’re praying for.

So here’s what I did. I found a little wooden figurine a friend gave me – a woman holding a little house in her hands – and I thought I’m going to let this represent Texas coming home to the heart of God.

I placed it on the carpet and dug out a box of rocks I use in floral arrangements and made a circle around the woman. On one rock I wrote Writing Paper. Then I began to circle that prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for the writing paper you’re sending to Texas in the jail. She’s going to have all the paper she needs to write her part of the story.

Every day I prayed, starting on a Saturday. The following Tuesday I was watching a movie with Bob at home and his phone rang. I could tell it was Texas but I was puzzled because you can’t call collect to a cell phone.

After a few minutes he handed me the phone and she was crying and shouting and saying something about being released. She was calling from her brother’s house and she was out of jail. All charges dropped.

As excited as I was for her release, only one thing was on my mind. As soon as I could get a word in, I asked, “Did you get the writing paper?”

“Mom, I mentioned to someone that I was going to write my story as soon as I got some paper, and by the time I left the jail everyone in there was handing me paper. I’ve already written 30 pages!”

I pressed her to remember when she first got the paper and it was Friday, the day before I made the circle. So when I prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for the writing paper you’re sending…” he had already sent it.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24 NIV 

Now…I ask you: If that’s what it means to go on a wild goose chase and pray in circles, don’t you want to do it too?



  1. Cathee, you know these books by Mark Batterson have changed my life. They have excelled me to heights unknown in my faith, in my belief and in my prayers. We need to apply these principles and let God do the rest. He is so faithful, but particularly when we are faithful. Thanks for continuing to be an inspiration to us all.

  2. Lovely … and a great encouragement.
    Thank you.

  3. Yes. I want it too. The writing paper testimony is faith building. Glad you shared it. Can’t wait to read what Texas writes too. I’ve always liked circles in design and I love gathering around an outdoor fire. Now that you’ve taken the idea to a new level for me, I’m inspired to add circles to my art.

  4. I’ve gone on so many wild goose chases I lost count long ago. Reading this post gives it all new meaning. Now I will anticipate them with expectancy. I am so anxious to read this new book you and Texas are writing. Now I’ll add Mark Batterson to my reading list too. Thanks for sharing so openly. Blessings to you.

  5. Thanks for reminding me that He answers prayers. I want what I want NOW. With that type of thinking it is easy to get
    impatient with the Lord. I really appreciate your example and eloquent way of communicating His teachings.

  6. Cathee, I am so late in responding to this. Yet, I was very impressed with “circle prayer” when I learned about it in your bible study I visited last month. As I was reading this blog, the Lord prompted me to create a circle for Texas . . . simply to ‘circle Texas in prayer’. I have a special shelf in our bedroom filled with crosses and special ‘prompts’ for my quiet time. A circle much like you made is now on my shelf. I’ll send you a picture when I get around to taking it. Circle prayer is the best way to ‘linger’ in long-term prayer. Your prayer was answered before you asked. Yet, some prayers need to soak inside that circle, linger in the air, remain constant. That’s the prayer I continue to send for Texas.

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