Circle me, Lord

Women’s Day 2016, Rome (Photo: Irene Bom)

Like a bird protecting its young, God will cover you with His feathers, will protect you under His great wings; His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock-solid wall to protect you.

(Psalm 91:4, The Voice)

When early Celtic Christians felt physically or spiritually threatened they turned to the Caim or “encircling” prayer as an act of faith in God as our refuge and protection.

Here’s what the book, Celtic Daily Prayer (p. 305-306), has to say about this versatile form of prayer incorporating both spoken word and a simple ritual:


When words get in the way and it seems impossible to focus, the caim or “encircling” prayer can often be helpful. Draw a circle clockwise around yourself, using the right index finger as you say the prayer; this symbolizes the encircling love of God. (The situation may make this physical action impractical; in which case see the action in your mind’s eye as you pray.) See yourself and others encircled and be aware that the living God surrounds and encloses with His love, care and protection.


Two examples of caim prayers taken from Celtic Daily Prayer to outline the format. Substitute the words in italics as appropriate.

Circle (name), Lord
Keep (comfort) near
and (discouragement) afar.
Keep (peace) within
and (turmoil) out.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep protection near
and danger afar.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep hope within,
keep despair without.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep light near
and darkness afar.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep peace within
and anxiety without.

The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit
shield (name) on every side.

A video in which 6-year-old Elliot shares how encircling prayer has helped him.

Who in your life needs to be encircled by the Eternal, Sacred Three? Why not pause and pray for them right now?

Note: The original Celtic Daily Prayer compiled by the Northumbria Community is now Book One of a two-volume series.

See also: Ancient Irish Prayer.

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