BY Doug Jones

August 16, 2012


A caim is a form of Celtic prayer that has been used since the late fourth or early fifth century. Caim is often translated circling prayer, or Celtic encircling prayer. The idea of an encircling prayer is often believed to be couched in the understanding of Psalm 125:2: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

A classic caim would go something like this:

 Circle me, Lord. 

Keep peace within

and anxiety without.

Encompass me, God.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

shield me on every side.


 You can pray this for yourself, and as you do, slowly turn and embody the prayer, involving not only your mind and mouth but the motion of your body, as well. You can also use a caim as a way to pray for one another in a small group, for your family, or for retreat participants. I have found that using the following steps helps folks warm up to the idea and receive the most from this prayer exercise:

  • Provide a background and introduction to the Celtic encircling prayer.
  • Share a model caim that your participants will pray.

Model Caim  [you can change the wording as necessary: protection/danger; hope/despair; light/darkness; mercy/sin; wholeness/sickness; etc.]

Circle (name), Lord.

Keep (comfort) near

and (discouragement) afar.

Keep (peace) within

and (turmoil) out.

Encircle (name), God.

Encompass (her/him), God.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

shield (her/him) on every side.


  • Invite each person to be quiet and distill their greatest need to one word. Then have each person enter the center of the group and share the one word that represents their request. This will be inserted into the caim.
  • Have those who are not being prayed for join in a circle around the prayer recipient and pray the encircling prayer. Each person can in turn pray one line of the prayer. It can help slow the process to pass a candle, representing God’s presence, and as each person receives the candle, they pray their line.
  • Repeat this process for each person requesting prayer.

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