Unite in Prayer: How to plan a candlelight prayer vigil

Last year around this time, I organized a candlelit prayer vigil for a friend, whose unborn child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. It was a beautiful opportunity to gather as a community and focus on Christ’s ever-present light in the darkness of what they were going through and what at some point in life, we all go through. If you’d like to plan something similar, feel free to use the readings we used, which are listed below or reach out for help on tailoring a plan for your specific event.

As each reader completed their reading, they lit the candle of the next. Then when the service was complete, the readers spread out within the church to light all the candles of those attending, and our church choir played some gorgeous songs to create a prayerful atmosphere, which are linked below. We also announced an opportunity for spontaneous prayer and closed by holding hands and singing an Our Father.

After the event, we melted down the candles used to create special memorial candles for the family, which they treasure to this day.

These readings are great for the season of advent as we focus on the coming of Christ’s Light being born in the darkness of winter and can be used creatively in prayer:

1st reading

The First Book of John Chapter 1 Verse 5

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.


2nd reading

Psalm 19

God’s splendor is a tale that is told;

His testament is written in the stars.

Space itself speaks His story every day

through the marvels of the heavens.

His truth is on tour in the starry-vault of the sky,

showing His skill in creation’s craftsmanship.

Each day gushes out its message to the next,

night with night whispering its knowledge to all

Without a sound, without a word, without a voice being heard,

Yet all the world can see its story.


3rd reading

Eternal Trinity,


mystery deep as the sea,

you could give me no greater gift

than the gift of


For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed,

Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness,

illuminates the mind with its light,

and causes me to know your


And I know that

you are beauty and wisdom itself.

The food of angels,

you gave yourself to man

in the fire of your


(From eternal trinity by St Catherine of Sienna)


4th reading

John Chapter 12 verses 35 to 37

Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.


5th reading

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


6th reading

“It is true that at times Jesus became powerful, he worked great miracles. But he feared that people would see in him the powerful One who does great things instead of the gentle One who seeks to give Communion. So Jesus becomes little, he is humble, and this because we admire the powerful but we love the little ones, the child, the person who is weak, the one who is fragile. So for me Jesus is the One who becomes little, he is God who becomes little, who hides in the poor, the humble, the weak, the sick, the dying. Because all these people who are particularly fragile are longing for love. And I see this as the mystery of Jesus among us.”

~ Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche communities


7th reading

Let nothing upset you,

let nothing startle you.

All things pass;

God does not change.

Patience wins

all it seeks.

Whoever has God

lacks nothing:

God alone is enough.

-St Teresa Avila


8th reading

Second Corinthians Chapter 4 Verse 18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

9th reading

The First Epistle of St John:


Let us love one another:

For love is of God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God;

For God is love.

God is love:

And he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,

And God in him.

Perfect love casteth out fear.


10th reading

My soul is a candle that burned away the veil;

only the glorious duties of light I now have.

The sufferings I knew initiated me into God.

I am a holy confessor for men.

When I see their tears running across their cheeks

and falling into

His hands,

what can I say to their great sorrow

that I too have


The soul is a candle that will burn away the darkness,

only the glorious duties of love we will have.

The sufferings I knew initiated me into God.

Only His glorious cares

I now have.

(From My soul is a candle by St John of the Cross)


11th reading

All shall be well, all shall be well, for there is a force of Love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” – Julian of Norwich


12th reading

John Chapter 14 verse 25:

My Peace I give to you

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;

not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

You have heard Me say to you,

“I am going away and coming back to you.

If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,

“I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.


13th reading

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

― St. Francis Of Assisi


14th reading

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”


Some of the songs used:


Do you need help planning a candlelit prayer vigil? Comment below or reach out, I’m happy to help in any way you need!




written by Nicky GAnt for http://www.untieinprayer.org 12/9/2019


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