Christian prayer and meditation is remarkably easier and more peaceful when using lighted candles.
While it is important to focus on the content of our prayer and meditation, we often forget that the external elements of prayer have a direct impact on us.
In truth, what we do with our body does have a direct impact upon our soul. This unity of body and soul allows all of our senses to be engaged in prayer (sight, hearing, taste, sound, touch) and assists our soul in being raised up to God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reinforces this fundamental truth and teaches us that prayer involves our whole being, “Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays” (CCC 2562).
In a particular way, a darkened room lit only by candles, can have a powerful effect on our soul and help us experience prayer in a new way.
Here are five specific benefits to praying and meditating with candles.
1. FEWER DISTRACTIONS
The most practical benefit of using candles is the decrease in distractions.While some people can easily pray when the TV is on in the background, for many of us, all the flashing lights and loud noises are distracting, and can easily take us away from prayer. Even having the lights dimmed in the house or bedroom can facilitate a better prayer experience, allowing your eyes to focus more on one thing.
2. MORE CALMING ATMOSPHERE
There is something about the flickering flame of the candle that brings a sense of calming into our soul. Candles are used for therapeutic reasons by many people and can have similar effects in our own daily prayer life.
3. RECALLS THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Christians in the early Church, all the way through the invention of electricity, prayed by the light of candles. This fact allows our prayer to have a beautifully rich side to it, recalling all those Christians who have gone before us in the sign of faith. We can recall their Christian witness and feel the comfort of their prayers, as they continue to intercede for us in the communion of saints.
4. REMINDS US OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
According to Nikolaus Gihr in his book, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “The burning candle is intended to represent … Jesus Christ; it is perfectly fitted for this object only when its light is nourished by excellent, pure wax. The bright flame above represents the Divinity of Christ; the candle proper symbolizes His humanity, the wick concealed within the candle is a figure of His soul, the wax itself, which is the product of the virginal bee, is an emblem of Christ’s most pure body…By its sweet scent the wax candle, moreover, represents the bonus odor Christi, that is, the plenitude of grace and virtue, the infinite holiness of Christ.”
We can look at the candle and feel God’s presence among us.
5. SYMBOLIZES OUR SEARCH FOR GOD
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) The light of the candle, then, reminds us of this reality and how we should follow that light by stepping out of the darkness of sin and into the “light of life.”