There is no biblical reason why we can’t light candles while we pray or while we do anything else, for that matter. Candles are inanimate objects. They have no power, no strength, and no mystical or supernatural abilities. They are nothing more than wax and a piece of string with maybe some scent added in.
Candles—and other lights such as Christmas decorations—can remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. Candles can remind us to put our “trust in the Light so that [we] may become sons of Light” (John 12:36). Having a candle burning while we pray might serve to focus our prayers and thoughts on Jesus as the Light of the world.
What candles cannot do, however, is accompany our prayers to heaven, make our prayers more powerful or effective, add anything to our prayers, or pray for us in any way. Candles burning in a Roman Catholic church, for example, are thought to continue the pray-er’s petition long after he/she has left the church. This is unbiblical. Prayer is a conversation with our heavenly Father—a dialogue between two live, conscious, responsive beings who share the same Spirit. No candle can enter into such a relationship.
Candles are used in various types of worship rituals. Witches and shamans, Catholics, new-agers, some Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus all use candles in their worship services. Lighting votive candles is also consistent with the emerging worship trends that embrace mystery, mysticism, and entering into reality through experience.
In the end, the use of candles in prayer is innocent in itself. The danger is in ascribing to them a power they simply don’t possess.