I once read an “expanded” version of the Lord’s Prayer, where the author added some additional words to the prayer Jesus taught. When it came to the part where we ask “deliver us from evil,” he added “from outside and of my own making.” It was a great reminder that not all evil comes from outside ourselves. Today, with the world becoming more and more polarized and communication between groups of differing ages, backgrounds, opinions, lifestyles, or ethnicities seems to be getting worse every day, can prayer help?
Prayer is our connection to the power that overcomes evil, misunderstanding, and the prejudices and conflicts in our own hearts. The Celtic Christian tradition has a prayer called Caim, or Encircling Prayer, that gives voice and vision to this connection. You can pray this prayer silently, seeing yourself, loved ones, even the church or city, nation or the world in your mind’s eye. As you begin your prayer, envision a circle drawn around the one or ones being prayed for. Or you can put your prayer on paper, writing the name or names inside a circle. Then pray:
Circle (name or names), Lord. Keep comfort near and discouragement afar. Keep peace within and turmoil without.
Circle (name or names), Lord. Keep hope within, keep despair without.
Circle (name or names), Lord. Keep light near and darkness far.
Circle (name or names), Lord. Keep hearts and minds open and fear and intolerance far.
The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit shield (name or names) on every side. Amen.
You can name any kind of evil or misunderstanding, “from outside or of my own making,” and the opposite emotion or situation, asking God to keep the good near and the evil far away. This week, encircle yourself and others with prayers for God’s love and protection.