5 Tips on Prayerful Parenting from Mark Batterson

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson {an interview}

Yesterday, I interviewed Mark Batterson, pastor and author of The Circle Maker. I had already underlined 3/4 of his book and then took about two pages of notes during our conversation so to say that I’ve got a lot to say is an understatement!

I read The Circle Maker a few months ago because I had just recently read the parent’s version, Praying Circles Around Your Children and pretty much fell in love with it. This small 100 page booklet gave me two pieces of information that drastically changed the way I see prayer. Here’s the first:

Mark (can I call him Mark?) speaks so much about leaving a legacy of prayer or having a prayer genealogy. When I asked him about this (you know, as I do, chatting with authors and whatnot) he said, “I wrote a book on prayer. My father-in-law wrote THE book on prayer.” His father-in-law, grandparents and parents spent time on their knees and Mark believes those prayers are being answered for years to come in his own life. He believes “our prayers are genesis moments that create and change our genealogy.”

THIS is why I pray for my kids today. Not just so we’ll make it through today without too many meltdowns or arguments. I pray for my kids because I want a to place a foundation of prayer that will be answered in their life when they are adults, parents and yes, even grandparents. I want my grandchildren to know the power of a praying grandparent. I want God to work in the generations after me and I want to begin praying for it now!

The second thing I learned from these books is that “God doesn’t answer vague prayers”. In The Circle Maker Mark shares a life goal list–more than 100 items he’d like to do one day. We’re not talking about “be a good dad”, “have lots of people in my church”. These are specific (super cool) goals like “dedicte my great-grandchildren to the Lord”, “build an orphanage in Ethiopia”, “go to a cowboy camp with my boys”, “live off 10% and give 90% by the time we retire”, “visit the monasteries of Meteora in Greece”.

Do you know what it would take to have any of these things happen? Planning. Purposeful steps toward each one. This is an example of how our prayers should be–big, audacious goals we want God to do in our lives. Mark explains in the book that “the Aramaic word for prayer means ‘to set a trap.’ Prayer is the way we take thoughts and dreams and ideas captive.” What God-sized dreams do you need to set a trap for? What God-sized dreams do you need to write down and ask God about specifically?

When I interviewed Mark (you know, on my cellphone), I asked him about his goal list (and the similar one his son Parker shares in the Student edition of The Circle Maker) and he said it was very vulnerable putting that list out there–like all your secret dreams for everyone to see. He also said he was proud of his son for doing the same thing. It must be hard as a 16 year old to let everyone see what your dreams and goals are.

I also asked Mark about writing the Student Edition of the Circle Maker with his 16 year old. How does this happen? And omg, I want to write a book with my kids one day! Don’t you feel like you’ve arrived in parenting when you write a book on prayer with your son?!

And I love how Mark responded. He said he didn’t want to “push” his son into doing what he wanted, which was write the book with him. Instead, he said, “I want him to feel the pull of the Holy Spirit.” What a fabulous directive as parents—not pushing our kids into our desires for them, but teaching them to feel the pull of the Holy Spirit in their lives!

parenting quote Mark Batterson

So, as I read the books and talked to Mark yesterday (did I mention, I got to talk to him? called him on the phone and everything?) what I really wanted to know was more about praying for your kids and raising them to serve the Lord.

Here’s a few things he told me…

1. Model it. If you model it, they’ll get it. When you are living out the gospel in your home–with authenticity and being quick to admit failure, your kids will follow your journey with the Lord.

2. We will fall short. But we have a Heavenly Father who will compensate for our parenting failures.

{How ’bout you read that again and just rest there for a minute? *sigh*}

3. Prayer modeling. (I mean, how do you model such a private discipline?) Texting the kids a “I’m praying for you today…”, kneeling in prayer as a family and (I love this one) asking the kids to pray for a specific need you have.

4. Discipleship Covenant. Mark talks about this in his book and it is an amazing thing he did with his son the year he was 12 turning 13. I can’t explain all of it but it’s where the life goal list came from. He said he got the idea from Raising a Modern Day Knights and it was very significant for him and his son.

5. Mantras. Mark discusses “prayer mantras” in his book. Mantras meaning Scriptures you’ve discovered, prayed about and written down then pray continually for a specific subject. For example, he prays Luke 2:52 for his kids. He said his kids have heard him pray that so often, it’s ingrained into them. He’s praying that Scripture as a circle around them–that they will grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Their hearts hear it, he hears it and God hears it. He told me, “When we pray, we become prophets.” God’s Word is alive and God commands us to use it!

Are you inspired yet? There are so many other re-tweetable comments and insights I’d love to share with you but I think it would probably be better if you just read the book. The Circle Maker is an amazing resource that will encourage you and challenge you to pray circles around your life and those around you.

If you are a parent, you need to (as in do it RIGHT NOW) get Praying Circles Around Your Children which is a small booklet based on The Circle Maker. It’s only $1.99 for Kindle. (It’s only $2.99 in the softcover and if you have Amazon Prime, there’s free shipping and you are good to go! Oh, Amazon Prime, how do I love thee?!)

If you’ve got a student in your life, grab the new Student Edition of The Circle Maker (which just came out a month ago!)–it’s been teenager-ized by Parker and has some very insightful questions at the end of each chapter.

Ohh! I didn’t even TELL you about the story behind The Circle Maker! Gah! That’s the coolest part! Got a sec? I’ll tell you the short ohAmanda version…

Israel was in a drought. They called for Honi, an old sage. He put his staff in the ground and drew a circle in the sand around himself. He looked up to heaven and said, “Lord of the universe, I swear before your great name, I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children .”

And what do you know? It began to rain. But only sprinkles and small drops.

Honi was not done. He turned to heaven again and said, “NOT FOR SUCH RAIN HAVE I PRAYED, but for rains that will fill cisterns, pits and caverns.” (emphasis mine)

And it began to pour. It poured so heavily, people were afraid.

Honi prayed again, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of Your favor, blessing and graciousness.”

Then a satisfying rain came down, answering Honi’s prayers.


Oooh, I forgot to tell you! There’s going to be a kids’ picture book of Honi and his prayer coming out later this year! Talk about teaching your kids to pray!

If you’d like to hear Mark tell this story (and the story of his big prayer circle), take the kids’ naptime and watch this video. You will be inspired.


Have you read The Circle Maker? Do you have a big prayer circle to make?


I was not compensated for this post. I did receive the Student Version of the book in order to facilitate this review and interview. But I only accepted as I had already bought the other books and was sufficiently in love with them. All quotes from Mark Batterson and his books. Circle Maker background from TheCircleMaker.com, text by me.


  1. Love this and looking forward to reading the book! I wrote yesterday of the blessings of my Daddy’s old Bibles and all that he wrote in them. He has Alzheimers yet continues to be a spiritual leader in my life, because of his faithfulness to the Word of God. He modeled prayer so beautifully for me and so I resonate with this idea of how we can affect our genealogies!
    I want to provide this same legacy of devotion to God for my kids! Thank you for your faithfulness in directing our hearts to Him and for your example. Giving thanks to God for you today!

    • Oh my goodness, Becky! What a gift! “He has Alzheimers yet continues to be a spiritual leader in my life, because of his faithfulness to the Word of God. ” *whew*



  2. Ok…. I’m going to just come right out and say it. I was REALLY bothered by the “omg” line in the post! I know it has become so commonplace that no one thinks anything of it, but I immediately was put off by it and it changed my view of what you were trying to say immediately. I love reading your posts and believe that your a true follower of Christ, I just feel that when you are writing “to the masses” it’s INCREDIBLY important to watch what you say at all costs.

    I’m bummed that it was there…. it’s HUGE to me! Thanks for listening….

    • Thanks for your comment, Brooke. Written words can definitely come across differently than how they were written or the tone in which the author is trying to communicate. That whole paragraph was intended to be silly, excited, fan-girl kinda talk.

      I don’t say OMG and honestly, we don’t even say “gosh” around here. I’m sorry it seemed as if I was being flippant or disrespectful. It certainly was not my intention.


    • Just curious, Brooke, what “REALLY” bothered you so much about “omg”? If that immediately changed your view of what Amanda was trying to say, then unfortunately it sounds like you missed the whole point.

      • OMG could have meant ‘oh my gosh’, ‘oh my goodness’………….do we really have to call one another out on every single little thing? Not to mention, it was obvious she was just trying to portray being really amped up and excited. Its creative writing. 🙂

        • Hello to both Myra and SR, I will attempt to answer you both on why I feel like I do….

          Here goes…I think today that people are very flippant about taking the Lord’s name in vain…. it has become SO incredibly normal that no one seems to think anything of it when it’s done (thus you saying, SR, that it’s creative writing). I know we all are different in how we speak, and what we think is ok to say, but when you are writing to “all” of the readers, I feel that it’s crucial to think of all of them too. And yes, I DO feel that as a follower of Christ reading a post from a fellow follower, I do have the ability to share my thoughts and tell her that I was REALLY bothered by “omg” within the post . That’s what blogging is all about, right? Being able to “chat” with the author and give feedback, both good and bad.

          I was reading along and getting “amped” myself (I bought the Kindle download) and then there it was. All of the sudden, I was SO bummed that I really found myself not being able to concentrate on the post any longer, because it hurt my heart. No, I don’t think I missed the whole point, Myra, I was just reminded that we are all different and when Amanda responded to me, I felt a bit better. I still feel that using the Lord’s name in vain (which is what I immediately liken “omg” to) is NOT ok and NOT creative writing.

          Thanks ladies for your input and questions! Hope I answered with love and grace on why I feel as I do…

  3. Jodie Powers says:

    Trying to find the scripture passage referencing Honi’s prayer – do you happen to have it??

  4. Amanda, what an honor to interview Mark Batterson. Our church did a Bible study on Circle Makers and my husband and I taught Praying Circles around your children. I will say, it has changed our lives completly and if you have never read any of his stuff you truly can’t understand that his material is an amazing experience! You do an amazing job writing, please don’t let anyone discourage you from putting your feelings out there! Keep up the GREAT work!

    • Beth, I’m so glad to hear you guys did The Circle Maker at church & with your kids. I honestly, feel like it opened up my eyes to so many big ideas about a simple thing like prayer.

      Thank you for your encouraging words. 🙂


  5. Your example of prayer for your kids really impacted me this summer as you were sharing excerpts from the books you were reading. I bought the Power of the Praying Parent and really enjoy the subjects and areas to pray over. And now I’m so grateful for your interview with Mark here explaining the premise and passion behind his books! The Lord used you to impress onto my heart that scripture should be prayed – that’s been huge. Thanks for sharing what’s on your heart and what the Lord shows you!

    • I so agree, Lauren! Praying Scripture just changes everything. Just on a personal small level, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right! And how much more in the spiritual realm–when God’s Word is used as the sword it is!

      Thanks for your sweet words! 🙂


  6. This post totally inspired me, Amanda. I’m so buying the book…the real book so I can highlight & make notes in the margin! So encouraging to know we can do such an important thing for our kids with just a little commitment. We don’t have to be perfect, just faithful!

    By the way, I love the way you write…omg’s and all! 🙂 thank you for blessing so many with your words of encouragement!

  7. The story of Honi is a true story that is used as an illustration/organizing metaphor of someone who reached out to God in prayer. Pastor Mark, who I had the honor to serve with on staff at NCC for 6 years. Pastor Mark. like many pastors uses the art of story and organizing metaphors to bring out Biblical principles with Scripture passages. Please don’t worry Pastor Mark calls out to the One True Living God in Jesus Name! I know him personally and have heard him pray first hand!

    Circle Maker and Praying Circles Around Your Children are amazing books that will challenge you to go deeper and bolder in your prayers to God. My wife and I are the ones referenced on page 62 of Praying Circles around your Children.

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