How to light a candle at church

Written by alyson paige
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How to light a candle at church
Christians light candles when offering prayers. (candles image by cherie from

Some Christian denominations light prayer candles in church while offering prayer intentions. Most prayer candle stands are situated by a statue of the Blessed Virgin or a saint. Rows of votive candles, some lit, some not, await the faithful who come to humbly ask for God's help in their own or others' lives. When a chapel or sanctuary is open, before or after Mass, you can enter the chapel and offer your prayers. Lit candles symbolise Christ's Light to the world and God, the Father's love for people. As the St. James Episcopal Church website reminds readers, lighting candles in prayer conveys power and deep spiritual meaning.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Prepare your mind and heart before lighting a prayer candle in church. If you are asking for the Virgin Mary to intercede with her Son, Jesus Christ, for his aid in your life or another person's life, be ready to communicate with the Blessed Mother through your prayers. Believe that God hears you.

    How to light a candle at church
    Some Christians believe that the Virgin Mary conveys prayers to her Son. (statue of the Virgin Mary mother of Jesus image by asmik from
  2. 2

    Approach the stand of votive candles, which often resides beneath a statue of the Virgin Mary. Keep a prayerful and humble demeanour and state of mind. You are aligning your body and mind with your spiritual intention.

    How to light a candle at church
    Maintain humility in prayer. (prayer image by Svetlana Bogomol from
  3. 3

    Kneel on the rail in front of the stand of votive candles. Kneeling symbolises your humility as you turn to God, the Father and Jesus Christ through Mary or the saints for help you cannot provide yourself.

    How to light a candle at church
    Prayer candles carry prayers to Jesus and to God, the Father. (Jesus image by cris13 from
  4. 4

    Light a votive candle. The church provides matches. As you light the candle, think of Jesus as the Light of the world who has the Father's ear. Settle your mind. If briefly gazing at the candle flame helps, use it to relax.

  5. 5

    Recite traditional prayers or pray with your own thoughts and words. There are no rules other than to maintain deep respect. If you choose to recite traditional prayers, recite the "Hail Mary." Follow with the "Our Father," also called the "Lord's Prayer," and close with the "Glory Be to the Father." Stay to pray as long as you feel called to stay.

Tips and warnings

  • Some people think that Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary. This is not true. Roman Catholics and the Orthodox churches, to name two Christian traditions, believe that Jesus remains close to the Blessed Mother, who conveys prayers to him just as she conveyed requests when he was on earth.

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