I’m a connoisseur of testimonies. And the most poignant prayer testimonies I’ve received over the years come from parents who are circling their children in prayer like never before. Parents are praying the promises of God around their children. They are interceding for future spouses, believing for miracles, and praying a hedge of protection around their children. And parents aren’t just praying that God would keep their kids safe; they’re also praying that He will make them dangerous for His purposes so they can make a difference in their generation. That is the kind of prayer God loves to answer.
May God raise up a generation of circle makers who will pray hard, pray bold, and pray through!
One of the most moving testimonies I know of comes from my friend Craig Johnson. Craig and his wife, Samantha, have three children. Their youngest son, Connor, has autism. Like many parents of kids with special needs, Craig and Samantha found themselves teeter-tottering between hope and despair, faith and discouragement. Then they got a copy of The Circle Maker and decided it was time to start circling, start believing, start praying again.
Can I come right out and say it? Parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. And the more you love your kids, the harder it is. It is spiritually, emotionally, and relationally taxing. And this challenge is multiplied for parents of children with special needs. It takes a heroic effort, and this is exactly what the parents of special needs kids are in my book: heroes. The parenting they do takes a special anointing.
Craig and Samantha read about the importance of praying the Word, so they decided to circle thirty biblical promises and begin to pray them around Connor. What they didn’t know is that Connor was memorizing them—all of them. Without even knowing it, they were planting seeds of faith in his heart. They started by praying these promises before he went to sleep at night, and then Connor asked them to pray the promises in the morning too.
Because of his autism, Connor struggles with controlling his emotions, so he sometimes experiences dramatic meltdowns and mood changes. But Connor is now reciting Scripture as a way of helping himself cope. One day, Craig wouldn’t let Connor play with their iPad, and Connor quoted from Psalms: “Lord, save me from the pit” (Psalm 69:15 tlb). Craig and Samantha laughed at first, but then they cried as they realized that their son was hiding the Word of God in his heart. Another day, Connor cut his foot, and while Samantha put hydrogen peroxide on it, he cried out from James: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him” (James 5:14 esv). Samantha stared in disbelief.
One of the many challenges Craig and Samantha faced was the simple fact that, at eight years of age, Connor wasn’t potty trained. So they decided to circle Connor and pray for a miracle. I’ll never forget what Craig said: “Mark, what one person may see as ordinary, another may see as his miracle.”
Then Craig told me that not long after they started circling Connor and believing for this miracle, Connor came in from playing outside and, for the first time in his life, went to the bathroom all by himself. Craig started crying as he told me the story; then I started crying. Craig said, “After what seemed like years of drought, God began to send the abundance of rain.”
Connor stopped having severe meltdowns. He started eating vegetables and losing some excess weight. Instead of simply repeating everything that was spoken to him, Connor started to respond. And he even tied his own shoelaces for the very first time! Does this mean the final battle has been fought? We know better; we’re parents! The challenges never end, but we need to celebrate the victories along the way. And for the record, prayer is the way we parents best fight our battles. Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you.
When we get on our knees, God extends His powerful right hand on our behalf. For the record, Craig and Samantha aren’t just circling their own children. They are promoting a cause by starting Champions Clubs and Champions Academies (development centers and charter schools) that will serve children with special needs all across the country.
The earth has circled the sun more than two thousand times since the day Honi drew his circle in the sand, but God is still looking for circle makers. He is still looking for those who dream big and pray hard. And drawing prayer circles starts with the family circle!
Watch the Video for Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children
Excerpted with permission from Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children by Mark Batterson, copyright Mark Batterson, 2014.
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Mark Batterson remind us that, “Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you.” In what circumstances are you needing God to fight on your behalf, in both your life and the lives of your children? Join the conversation on the blog! We’d love to hear from you!