Get Ready - Draw the Circle

Get Ready

He prayed to God regularly.

Acts 10:2

Five words tell me everything I need to know about Cornelius: He prayed to God regularly. Scripture doesn’t record exactly when or where or how he prayed. It doesn’t reveal whether he prayed in the morning or the evening. It doesn’t tell us what he said or the posture he prayed in. It just says he prayed regularly. And when you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis. You never know when or where or how God will invade the routine of your life, but you can live in holy anticipation, knowing that God is orchestrating supernatural synchronicities.

Like a grandmaster who strategically positions chess pieces on a chessboard, God is always preparing us and positioning us for divine appointments. And prayer is the way we discern the next move. The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. We don’t get our marching orders until we get on our knees! But if we hit our knees, God will take us places we never imagined going by paths we didn’t even know existed.

If history is a chess match between good and evil, then Acts 10 is one of God’s epic moves. It reveals how one prayer can change the game. It reveals what can happen when two people pray. It reveals the power of prayer to checkmate the enemy and seal the victory.

Here’s the play-by-play.

A man named Cornelius has a vision while praying in Caesarea. Simultaneously, Peter has a vision while praying in Joppa. Those visions collide in a divine appointment that radically alters the course of history. Up to this point, the Way was a sect of Judaism. It isn’t until Cornelius, an officer in the Roman army, puts his faith in Jesus Christ that the gospel is opened up to Gentiles. If he doesn’t get saved, you can’t get saved. It’s not even an option. So if you’re a non-Jewish follower of Jesus, your spiritual genealogy traces back to this genesis moment. When Cornelius puts his faith in Christ, the door of salvation swings wide open to the Gentiles. But it started with two people praying. Those two prayers have been answered billions of times over the last two thousand years. In fact, they were answered yet again when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Now let me state the obvious: Cornelius and Peter should have never met each other. Never. Ever. They were separated by geography. The thirty-two-mile distance between their two towns may not seem like much to us, but the average person in the first century didn’t travel outside a thirty-mile radius of their birthplace. And more significantly, they were separated by ethnicity. Roman soldiers and Jewish disciples didn’t hang out. In fact, Peter broke every law in the Jewish books when he entered the home of Cornelius. Stepping through that doorway was like crossing the Rubicon. He went against everything he’d ever known and risked everything he’d ever accomplished. That doorway to the home of Cornelius was like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. I call it The Door to Whosoever. When Peter entered the house of Cornelius, it literally meant, “Whosoever will may come.”3 And that includes you and me!

Get Ready

It’s not every day that a member of the United States Congress requests a meeting with me. At first I was curious. Then I got a little nervous. I hoped it had nothing to do with the fact that I had illegally taken my kids sledding at the Capitol during snowmaggedon a few winters back, but I figured that couldn’t possibly warrant a federal investigation. Turns out the congressman just wanted to thank me for writing Wild Goose Chase, a book he read during his first run for Congress.

As we sipped lattes in my office above Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, the congressman shared his backstory with me. Not unlike Daniel’s improbable rise to political power, Jim’s path was full of unpredictable twists and turns. It all started one day in 2007 when the Holy Spirit said in that still, small voice, “Get ready.” His initial reaction was, Get ready for what? At the time, Jim was directing one of the largest Christian camps in the country and preaching on weekends. He was perfectly content doing what he was doing, but the Holy Spirit kept impressing the same thing on him: “Get ready.”

Several months later, Jim was reading the newspaper when he came across an article about the congresswoman who represented his district. Rumors were flying that she was going to make a run for governor, which would leave her seat in Congress vacant. That’s when the Holy Spirit said, “This is it.”

Jim didn’t have a political bone in his body. In fact, he didn’t even know the boundaries of his congressional district. He went online to do a little research when his wife walked in and said, “What are you looking at?” He said, “County statistics.” She said, “We’re running for Congress, aren’t we?” They had never talked about it or thought about it. Running for Congress seemed like a wild goose chase. After all, Jim had no background, no network, and no resources. There was no way he could win — unless, of course, the front-runner happened to drop out of the race a few months before the election. That is exactly what happened, and Jim Lankford was elected to represent the 5th Congressional District of Oklahoma.

The Celtic Christians had a fascinating name for the Holy Spirit. They called Him An-Geadh-Glas, which means “wild goose.” Can you think of a better description of what it’s like to live a Spirit-led life than “wild goose chase”? When you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, you never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll go, or what you’ll do. But one thing is certain: it’ll be anything but boring!

At the end of our conversation, Congressman Lankford mentioned that he had also read The Circle Maker. And he’s putting it into practice. If you visit the Cannon House Office Building on any given morning when Congress is in session, you’ll find a camp-director-turned-congressman circling the fifth floor, praying for his constituents, colleagues, and country!

Anything but Routine

If you establish a prayer routine, your life will be anything but routine. You will go to places, do things, and meet people you have no business going to, doing, or meeting. You don’t need to seek opportunity. All you have to do is seek God. And if you seek God, opportunity will seek you.

I live in a town, Washington, D.C., where it’s all about who you know. Who you know is more important than what you know. This is certainly true for the children of God. Who you know — the heavenly Father — is far more important than what you know.

Don’t worry about meeting the right people. If you meet with God, God will make sure you meet the right people at the right time. After all, there is nobody He doesn’t know. It’s one degree of separation! And if God can change the heart of Pharaoh, He can help you find favor with anybody and everybody. Let God do the promoting and networking. I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t apply for a promotion or trade business cards, but seek first His kingdom. You’ve got to do God’s will God’s way.

Remember when Moses got impatient4 and took matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian taskmaster? He thought it would expedite God’s plan. In reality, it delayed God’s plan by forty years. He thought it would bring relief, but it made the burden on the Israelites almost unbearable. That’s what happens when we try to do God’s job for Him. It’s unbearable. When we try to make things go faster, we usually slow things down. When we try to make things easier, we usually make them harder.

Don’t try to manufacture your own miracles.

Don’t try to answer your own prayers.

Don’t try to do God’s job for Him.

Stay humble. Stay patient. Stay focused.

Keep circling.

If you pray to God regularly, irregular things will happen on a regular basis.

From the Book:

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Draw the Circle
By Mark Batterson

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