Candle Lighting Prayers against gun violence

These prayers are suggested for use during a candlelight (and prayer?) vigil. They are  prayers said while lighting the main candle. This selection is written for multiple readers, or you may choose as many/few selections as is appropriate for your use.

This set of prayers is adapted from a community non-denominational service against gun violence, see the credits at the end.

Note that the red asterisk [ ** ] is a “breath mark” or a pause mark where the reader make take a short pause while reading.

Candlelight Vigil Prayers

Reader 1

We light this candle in remembrance of the victims of gun violence, both those who have been injured and those who have been killed, in our nation and especially [location.] **

We hold their memories dear. **

We treasure those lives permanently altered through injury or those taken in senseless acts of violence, **

and we pray that they might find rest and peace. **

May their lives continue to make a difference in our world. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Light, heal our broken hearts.


Reader 1

We light this candle in remembrance of the families and friends of the victims of gun violence in our nation and especially [location.] **

Comfort those who mourn. **

Dry the tears of those who weep. **

Sustain those who feel diminished. **

Impart courage to the hearts of those who feel helpless. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Peace, sustain our broken hearts.


Reader 3

We light this candle in remembrance of all communities torn apart by gun violence. **

We are too familiar with places like Columbine High School and Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; Roseburg, Oregon; Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas, Orlando, Florida.  ** **

The memory of them is intolerable. Each of these incidents of violence affects all of us in our daily lives and work. **

Grant us strength to pursue a voice of love. **

Renew our resolve to respect the dignity of all human beings. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Comfort, encourage our broken hearts.


Reader 4

We light this candle in remembrance of first responders, including police, fire
and rescue personnel who witness the horror of gun violence while in service to
our communities, and for all those with responsibility for law enforcement. **

We give thanks for their call to protect and serve and to seek justice, which is inspirational
to others, **

and we pray that their emotional wounds will be healed. **
Together we pray.
All: God of Courage, inspire our broken hearts.


Reader 5

We light this candle for those lives taken by gun violence through suicide, **

and also for those lives taken through accidental shootings, **

especially when those shootings involve children. **  **

Console and strengthen those whose despair is great. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Mercy, comfort our broken hearts.


Reader 6

We light this candle in remembrance of all people impacted by gun violence, **

as gun violence knows no boundaries but can affect all nationalities, races, cultures, genders, and socioeconomic classes; **

it effects us regardless of who we choose to love, and those who choose to love us; **

it can affect us where we live, where we worship, where we work, where we study, and where we play. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Love, transform our broken hearts.


Reader 7

We light this candle for those who have committed acts of gun violence and for their families, in our nation and especially [location.]  **

We remember those suffering from mental illness who have gone untreated,  **

we remember those suffering from loneliness and isolation. **

We pray for those who would use guns, power and violence rather than respect and dignity to reconcile differences. **

Grant us the strength to pursue a voice of love. **

Together we pray.
All: God of Forgiveness, enlighten our broken hearts.


Reader 8

We light this candle to pray for ourselves and others in our lives who have been touched by gun violence. **

During the silent pause, we invite you to offer the names either silently or aloud of those for whom you pray. (the group / crowd / congregation is invited to add their personal names aloud or remember them in their hearts.) ** ** ** ** **

Together we pray.
All: God of Astonishing Mercy, Compassion and Immeasurable Love, restore our broken hearts and enliven our confidence to find new ways to revive our world to become a world of peace.

So be it.


An appropriate song:

This Little Light of Mine
sung by Odetta







credit: prayer service bulletin: “A Moral Call: People of Faith Confronting the Tragedy of Gun Violence.” Sunday, December 13, 2015, 2015. First Unitarian Universalist Society, Burlington, VT.









Confidence Within the Incomprehensible – a prayer

The LORD says, “Call me and I shall answer you, And will tell you great and unsearchable things of which you know nothing.” (based on Jerimiah 33:3)

God of Goodness:

Our prayer is often very poor.
But still, you hear the call
that rises up
from deep within us.

And even if we do not know
how you answer it,
we are confident of this:

You always send us
your Holy Spirit.

 – Amen

Keep the faith!




We Are Not Born Hateful

beauty distorted by mirrors  Why is it that we teach our kids “Jesus loves the little children,” yet when as they grow up, we teach them that Jesus will love them, only if they fit into certain groups, who act certain ways, and are members of certain groups?

Jesus loves all children … yet … what happens later as they become adults?

St. James tells us that we should not only listen to the word – the good word – we also must put it into practice (Jm: 1:22-25) If we don’t pay attention to how it is that we are to become better people, we are like a person looking at his reflection in a mirror. And our not hearing what good teachings have been given, we forget what we have seen the moment we step away from the mirror.

It was his way of describing “Sunday morning Christians.

They blithely do their due, then go home and continue with their life, not remembering any lessons from the day.

Maybe that is where we go wrong by our children.

By not paying attention to the way we should behave as a loving people, we pass the teaching along to those who watch us most closely. Our payment forward is very small, indeed, if we cannot first teach our children to love, and continue teaching them that lesson as long as we are with them.

The old Sunday School song is true: Children of God are precious in his sight. It is our job to keep polishing that jewel.

Keep the faith!


God of Peace,

Help us to hear you when you say to us,

Go ahead,
Let your soul live!

We so wish to welcome the certainty that
you love each one of us,

without exception.

– Amen


Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Lyrics by Clare Herbert Woolston
Tune by Goerge F. Root,
originally for the Civil War song, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp
Scripture reference: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)


 Everything is Beautiful

words and music by Ray Stevens

Jesus loves the little children
All the little children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Everything is beautiful
In its’ own way
Like a starry summer night
Or a snow covered winter’s day
Everybody’s beautiful
In their own way
Under God’s heaven
The world’s gonna find a way

There is none so blind
As he who will not see
We must not close our minds
But we must let our thought be free
For every hour that passes by
You know the world gets a little bit older
It’s time to realize
That beauty lies
In the eyes of the beholder


We shouldn’t care
About the length of his hair
Or the color of his skin
Don’t worry about
what shows from without
but the love that lives within
We’re gonna get it all together now
Everything gonna work out fine
Just take a little time
to look on the good side my friend
And straighten it out in your mind