I just had a great chat with a friend on why we both, at times, light candles in our times of prayer and devotion.
Her reasons focused on the inner groanings of her heart, stirrings that resist words, yet somehow take shape when she lights a candle and offers a physical representation of her prayers. The candle lit, for a person or situation, reminds her to pray for them. How beautiful.
For me, this morning I lit what I call my “passion candle.” Feeling fairly overwhelmed by my varied responsibilities, I lit the candle to help me turn my heart over to God, focus my attention on His quiet presence in and with me, and to represent the flame of worship that burns in my soul. I then lit a three-tiered candle I have as well, and let it reflect in a mirror that sits behind it – 6 small flames, both actual and reflected, reminding me to quiet my heart and offer myself to God.
For me, lighting candles devotionally, without arcing back into superstition, is an act of creating a sacred space for God and I to meet. I’ve even travelled once or twice with candles to light them wherever I’m staying to create that same space of devotion.
It’s a focus thing.
Here’s an interesting article on candle-lighting in the Roman Catholic tradition: