The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Author, latest, The Circle Maker (2011)

Pastor, National Community Church, Washington, D.C.

2 Masters Degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, Illinois

Married, Lora; Children, Parker, Summer and Josiah


Mark Batterson: The Circle Maker

By The 700 Club -THE LEGEND
There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams,” says Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church and author of The Circle Maker.  He uses the legend of the Circle Maker to illustrate his point.   It is said that during the first century BC, a devastating drought threatened to destroy a generation; the generation before Christ’s birth.   The days of the Jewish prophets were long past, and miracles were a distant memory.  “God was nowhere to be heard.  But there was one man who dared to pray anyway.  His name was Honi,” says Mark.  Honi was famous for his ability to pray, and he believed that even if people could no longer hear God, God could hear them.  One day, in desperation, he drew a circle in the dirt around himself, and called down rain from Heaven, saying,  “Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon your children.”  Rain fell to the earth and ultimately saved a generation.  Mark says the circle Honi drew in the sand became a symbol, and his story a testament about how a single prayer can change the course of history. 

Mark says he’s drawn prayer circles around impossible situations and impossible people, by keeping in constant and consistant prayer over those situations.  When he was a 22-year-old seminary student, he tried to plant a church in Chicago, but it never took root.  Six months later, he and his wife moved to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to plant another church presented itself. Although he was nervous, he says God gave him the courage to try again.  In January, 1996, a blizzard hit D.C. and, consequently, only three people showed up at Mark’s first Sunday service at National Community Church (NCC): his wife, Lora, his son, Parker, and himself.   “Of course, the upside is that we experienced over six-hundred percent growth in one week when 19 people showed up the next Sunday,” he jokes.  During the first nine months of 1996, a core group of twenty-five people gathered for weekend services at Giddings School in southeast Washington, DC.  Mark says that nothing was easy during the first year.   “That’s when I learned to close my eyes in worship because it was too depressing to open them.”  One day, as he was dreaming about the church God wanted to establish on Capitol Hill, he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to do a prayer walk.   That day, he drew what would be his first prayer circle, and it still ranks as his biggest.   Mark walked in a 4.7 miles radius around Capitol Hill.  “My feet were sore, but my spirit soared,” he says.  Since that day, NCC has grown into one church with seven locations around the metro D.C. area, they’re on the verge of launching their first international campus, and they’ve influenced tens of thousands of people.  “The greatest tragedy in life is prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked,” Mark says.  He’s seen God answer prayer after prayer. In September, during its first year, NCC was on the verge of becoming a homeless church because the public school where they met was closing down, but God opened an amazing door of opportunity.  The church held its first public service in the movie theaters at Union Station on November 17, 1996.  Twenty-five million visitors pass through the station each year, making Union the most visited landmark in DC. “Our goal is to be a church for the unchurched so I can't imagine a more strategic spiritual beachhead than Union Station. Doing church in the middle of the marketplace is part of our spiritual DNA,” Mark says.  On September 21, 2003, NCC launched a second location in the movie theaters at Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, VA.   

In the spring of 2006, NCC completed construction on Ebenezer’s, the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Located one block from Union Station, the vision was to create a place where the church and community could cross paths. Ebenezer’s is a fully operational coffeehouse open seven days a week. It also doubles as NCC's third location. Saturday night services were launched on March 12, 2006.  The driving motivation behind building a coffeehouse was the fact that Jesus hung out at wells. They were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Ebenezer’s is a postmodern well.   The building that houses the coffee shop was nothing more than a crack house when Mark spotted it, and by the time the transformation was complete, it had cost $3 million, and the church’s mortgage was $2 million.  One day when Mark was praying for God’s provision, he felt prompted to pray for a $2 million miracle.  He felt God would do it, and he circled that dream in prayer.  Four years later, God answered that prayer.  In fact, he did better, and the church received a $3 million miracle.  “I was a little confused by the fact that it wasn’t exactly $2 million,” Mark says.  “Of course, I wasn’t about to complain.”  Less than a year later, Mark’s church received another gift of $4 million that they weren’t expecting! 

Mark has learned several things about prayer, which include:  Dream big. “The size of prayers depends on the size of our God.  And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers.”  Pray hard.  “The viability of our prayers has more to do with intensity than vocabulary,” Mark says.  Think long. “The bigger the vision the harder you’ll have to pray and the longer you’ll have to think, but if you keep circling, it’ll come to pass in God’s time.”   Keep circling.  “The more you have to circle something in prayer, the more satisfying it is spiritually.  And, often, the more glory God gets,” says Mark.  “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.”

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