A devastating drought threatened to destroy a generation—the generation before Jesus. The last of the Jewish prophets had died off nearly four centuries before. Miracles were a distant memory. And God was nowhere to be heard. But there was one man, an old sage who lived outside the walls of Jerusalem, who dared to pray anyway. His name was Honi. And even if the people could no longer hear God, he believed that God could still hear them.
With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi drew a circle in the sand. Then he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to heaven. With the authority of the prophet Elijah who called down fire from heaven, Honi called down rain.
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.
Then it happened.
As his prayer ascended to the heavens, raindrops descended to the earth. The people rejoiced over the rain, but Honi wasn’t satisfied with a sprinkle. Still kneeling within the circle, Honi lifted his voice over the sounds of celebration.
Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.
The sprinkle turned into such a torrential downpour that the people fled to the Temple Mount to escape the flash floods. Honi stayed and prayed inside his protracted circle.
Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of benevolence, benediction, and grace.
Then, like a well-proportioned sun shower on a summer afternoon, it began to rain in perfect moderation. Some within the Sanhedrin threatened excommunication because his prayer was too bold for their taste, but the miracle couldn’t be repudiated. Eventually, Honi the Circle Maker was honored for “the prayer that saved a generation.” The circle he drew in the sand symbolizes the power of a single prayer to change the course of history. It’s also a reminder of this timeless truth: God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)
Published on Anchor February 2012. From the Catalyst website (www.catalystspace.com). The online version of this article can be found at
http://www.catalystspace.com/content/read/the_circle_maker/. Text and art excerpted from the book “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson.