Candlelight has long illuminated prayers of faith. Many of our Jewish neighbors light a candle just before sunset to light their shabbat celebrations. Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians often light candles as an aid to prayer. Some Christian families and churches mark the season of Advent with an Advent wreath of five candles, the last to be lit on Christmas Day. And candles illuminate many churches on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, as worshippers sing and pray on those special occasions.
This Advent season, however, I’d like to suggest a few more ways that candles can light up your life and help you pray meaningfully:
Light a candle for focus.
A flickering candle can help you stay focused in prayer. Simply light it (perhaps with an invocation such as, “Come, Lord Jesus, Light of the World”) and gaze into the flame as you pray. You may find it easier to shut out distractions as you watch the candle burn.
Light a candle in gratitude.
The warmth of light—whether a torch, lamp, candle or sunrise—brought blessings of safety, clarity and health to people in Jesus’ day. So, during this special season, you may want to light a candle daily, accompanied by a prayer of gratitude for the blessings you enjoy.
Light a candle for someone.
There may be a friend or loved one for whom you feel a special concern right now. One way to remember and pray for that person is simply to light a candle and, as you do, ask God to meet that person’s needs.
Light a candle as a reminder.
I know a businesswoman who kept a candle burning on her desk during the workday. Whenever her eyes alighted on that flame, she paused for a moment of prayer. The candle helped her to invite God’s presence and work at regular intervals throughout her tasks. Keep a candle nearby as you work, occasionally prompting a prayer.
Light a candle to spread the fragrance of prayer.
The last book of the Bible depicts an angel mixing incense with the prayers of God’s people: “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4 NIV). You might choose a scented candle to enhance your prayers during this season. Like the suggestion above, you may let that candle remind you to pray each time you notice its fragrance.
These are just a few ways to light up your prayers this Advent season. They’re offered in the hope that they may ignite your own creativity and serve as new and meaningful guideposts to prayer.