The Candlelight Prayer is a chance for campers to have an experience with God through reflection and prayer. Quite a few young campers have testified over the years that it was at candlelight prayer that they first had a personal, sometimes tearful, experience with God. The evening is designed to prepare for the prayer through songs that connect to the heart and through testimonies aimed at helping others understand something about God's heart and at guiding them to connect to God in prayer. Weather permitting, the campfire and prayer will take place in the meadow. It can be held in the Rec Hall in bad weather.
- Decide who will be the Emcee for the evening (could be the education director, or a parent with a gift to set the right spirit)
- One of the teachers or moms from the youngest groups can run a candlelight prayer experience for the little ones. They can use tea lights set on a rock rather than hand-held candles. A parent or responsible adult must accompany each young camper.
- Decide if the younger kids (Moons and under) will have their own fire at a different location (next to the volleyball field), or whether everyone will participate in the same event. This will primarily depend on the number of younger kids. If the younger kids come to the same fire, they can start their own candle lighting half an hour before everyone else comes to the fire. They (and their parents) are free to stay for the fire with the older kids or leave anytime they want
- Make sure the candles and paper drip protectors (see separate section below for more about candles) will be at the location of the candle light prayer. Assign people who will assemble them (more below).
- Make sure songbooks will be at the location of the candle light prayer
- Make sure the tent, sound system, benches, and songbooks will be at the location. This is the job of the staging crew, but make sure that they are aware of all the details, and also that they know that everything will need to be brought back indoors once the program is finished.
- Encourage people to bring their flashlights
- Ask music team to prepare a list of songs beforehand, so there won’t be long breaks during which the team tries to decide which song to sing next. This is not the time for individual entertainment, but for group singing.
- Ask 3-4 people representing different generations to prepare to give a testimony. Ask for testimonies of personal experiences of prayer, of life of faith, of God working in someone's life. Give them plenty of time to prepare. By lunch time of the day of the candle light prayer they should be selected. Meet with them individually if possible and get a sense of what they might want to share and to avoid that the testimonies are too similar and repetitive. Emphasized brevity and depth.
- Timing is important, it should be already dark by the time the candles are lit. Have music team prepare extra songs if needed (if the testimonies turn out to be shorter than you expected).
Suggested Songs for Candlelight Prayer
- If I Were Free
- Pass It On
- This is My Father's World
- Morning Has Broken
- If Life Were Gracious Enough
- I'll Never Leave You
- We Shall Overcome
- The Heart of My Country
- Brother Son and Sister Moon
- Be Thou My Vision
- Amazing Grace
- As the Deer
- The Father’s Dwelling Place
- When I Behold the Lord
- Shining Fatherland
- Light of Grace
At the Campfire
- Make sure songbooks are readily available.
- Everyone should sing together to build a sense of unity. Don’t amplify the instruments too much, so that the campers can hear each other sing.
- Have testimonies of personal experiences of prayer, of life of faith, of God working in someone's life.
- At the beginning of the program, ask everyone to turn off their cell phone.
- Give instructions for the lighting and relighting (if necessary) of candles before the last song:
- Candles that are lit stay upright.
- Candles that are receiving the light can tilt.
- If a candle need to be relit, do it without conversation. Just go to someone who has a lit candle and relight yours.
- Move out into the meadow to have your own individual prayer.
- When you hear singing, come back together, remain standing around the campfire.
- Request that people refrain from talking as the candles are passed out. Pass out candles during second-to-last song, and then light candles during the last song
- Usually the first candle is lit by drawing fire from the campfire, often with the help of a stick first burning on one side, because the fire is too hot to get close
- Camp Director should light candles going to at least three points around the campfire and relying on others to "pass it on." Going to either side of the canopy and directly across from the canopy with the flame passed in both directions works well.
- After prayer (about 20–30 minutes), singing is begun by Emcee or Camp Director or both together. Songs could be “Tongil,” or “Pass It On.”
- Camp director ends with representative prayer and then asks everyone to put out their candle. Usually candles are thrown into the fire. After the candlelight prayer, no candles are to be lit anywhere in camp for any reason.
- Close the evening together in prayer by family. Adopted kids can form a group or two and close by groups.
About Candles and Drip Protectors
- The Operations Team will provide the candles and drip protectors and should have ordered them for all programs. In the beginning of camp make sure you know where they are and that there are enough.
- Store the candles before and after the candle light prayer in a plastic bin with a closed lid, otherwise the mice could bite through the cardboard box with the candles and chew on the candles rendering them unusable.
- Secure two big, wide and flat (tray-like) boxes from the kitchen early on at camp. Bring the two boxes to the campfire to hold the candles after the drip protectors were attached. The candles with drip protectors take up a lot more space, so the two boxes should be big.
- A couple of people need to attach a drip protector to each candle and put them in the boxes at the campfire. They should do this somewhere on the side, where they don’t attract attention.
- Only assemble about 5 more candles (in case of late comers) than the number of people present. Do a rough head count (not all camp participants will be at the event).
- After the prayer make sure leftover candles are brought back indoors and are disassembled. If they are left with the drip protector attached, the paper drip protectors will get totally out of shape and the next program will not be able to use them.
- Throwing out some drip protectors will eventually leave us with candles without them, so it's better to keep them.
Some Comments from Participants’ Reflections from Past Years (Comets, Suns, Supernovas)
- “I never felt so warm and touched by God and my friends.”
- “Candle Night prayer was very emotional.”
- “The candle light prayer was so meaningful to me because I got a lot off my chest and I just felt so loved.”
- “The candle light prayer was very deep and I felt God throughout the whole thing.”
- “The candle light prayer because I felt the love from God and my brothers and sisters.”
- “The candle light prayer because it was beautiful and I saw some stuff (spirits).”
- “The Candle Light Prayer was the most meaningful to me because it was a chance for me to talk to God.”
- “The Candle Light Prayer because I felt god for the first time.”
- “Most meaningful experience [of the camp] was the Candle Light Prayer.”