DIY Retreat #7: Circle Me, Lord

Here is another one-day prayer/silent retreat outline prepared by my friend Joy Richardson, a spiritual director in Coquitlam. You’ll find the introduction to DIY group prayer retreats here and other outlines under resources.

circle me Lord


After people have gathered, begin with a time of quiet. Light the candle and welcome God’s presence.

Song: Encircling (based on St. Patrick’s prayer from Trust by Gemma)

The mighty Three my protection be
Encircling me
You are around my life, my home encircling me
Oh sacred Three, the mighty Three

Preparatory Prayer (Ignatius of Loyola):

O Lord, I acknowledge that I am in your presence.
I offer this time to you.
Lead my heart and mind.
May everything I feel, think and do be directed purely toward your greater praise and service. Amen.

Morning Prayer (SoulStream)

Blessed Trinity,
I receive your love, your presence and this day
as a gift from you.
I open my heart to you.
Please lead me deeper into your transforming love
as we spend these next hours together. Amen


Introduce and practice circle prayers by drawing them on paper (tracing a toonie or quarter works well) or encircling yourself with a scarf.

double circle prayer

Disperse in silence. In the silence, participants can schedule for themselves three times of personal prayers of 45-60 minutes each with breaks in between to eat or relax.

First Prayer Period: SEE, HEAR, CONSIDER

Luke 13: 10-17   The Healing of the Crippled Woman

  1. Read this passage slowly.
  2. Pray for the grace to know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly, and to follow him more nearly.
  3. Read the passage again slowly
  4. Set the scene. Who do you see? What do you see? Who are you?
  5. SEE: Watch the story play out.
  6. HEAR: Listen to the conversations.
  7. CONSIDER: Consider the actions of Jesus and others.
  8. What does Jesus say to you in your own condition/situation? Allow the conversation to evolve.

Second Prayer Period: CIRCLE ME

This is an encircling prayer, asking God to encircle us and others with the Trinity’s love. It is from the Celtic tradition. As you pray it, imagine yourself and others surrounded by our Three Personed God. Imagine the Creator, Son and Spirit loving each other and inviting you into this circle of love, care and protection.

As you pray, draw a circle around yourself with your finger, or place a scarf in a circle on the floor around you before you pray. These symbolize the encircling love of God.

Prayer for yourself:

Spend time with God. Perhaps it is helpful to picture yourself as a child with Jesus or held in the soft down of the Holy Spirit. Let God hold you gently. Enjoy the sense of God we receive from Psalm 131:2

I have stilled and quieted my soul
Like a weaned child with its mother
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

As you spend time with God (and this may be as you go for a walk, knit, or colour), what thoughts or feelings come to you? Ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything God would like to show you. Lift this or anything else that is on your heart to our Lord in prayer. Here are some examples of circle prayers:


Circle me, Lord,

Keep __________ in.

Keep ____________ out.

Draw Your Prayers:

Trace a circle, and write your prayer in it. Be as creative as you wish as you use colour and design to accompany your prayers. Here are some examples:

Triple circle prayer

Third Prayer Period: CIRCLE OTHERS

“Praying for other people is a hospitality of the heart.” (Celtic Illustrations, p.140)

Joy explains, “God has been drawing me deeper into prayer for others. Many of those I love and care about are going through very difficult times. Many of my family and friends have people in their lives that God is drawing me to pray for as well. As I listen to the news, I am becoming more and more aware of people and situations that need prayer. We can use circle prayers to lift all of these people up to God.”

Take time to be with our Triune God. Lift one person to this Divine Community of Love. Sense the Trinity’s love for this person and God’s heart for them. Allow yourself to share in that love. Use a circle prayer to pray for them. Take your time. There is no hurry. Move on to pray for someone else when you have a sense your prayer for the first person is finished.


Circle __________ Lord,

Keep ____________in.

Keep ____________ out.

For example,

second triple circle prayer


You can vary the words circle/encircle, keep/bring, in/within  or out/without. What makes it meaningful to you? Make changes as you wish.


Encircle Stan, Lord.

Keep bitterness without.

Bring a sense of Your presence within.


Closing: Gather together at the end for a time of sharing. Allow each person to speak without comment. Receive what each person has offered as a gift, pausing to pray silently for each one after they have spoken.

Credits and references:
Celtic Daily Prayer, from the Northumbria Community,  HarperSanFrancisco, 2002.
Celtic Illustrations: A Prayer Journal, Northumbria Community, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1997.
Ignatian Preparatory Prayer from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Morning Prayer of SoulStream Community. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016


About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Prayer Retreat Outline and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DIY Retreat #7: Circle Me, Lord

  1. kathy krahn says:

    Thank you for this, Esther. What a great resource… I think I need a one day retreat right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Joy will be pleased. Hope you get time to retreat. Peace to you, too.


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