How to Decorate Prayer or Devotional Candles for Everyday Use

Make Prayer Candles for Everyday Use

Prayer candles
The Spruce / David Fisher

Whether you call it a devotional or a prayer, lighting a candle with a person or purpose in mind is a powerful ritual act that is common to many religions and traditions. Prayer candles, usually available in clear glass jars, burn for seven or 14 days. They are often adorned with an image or a prayer, and the thought or belief is that the image or prayer is held in spirit while the candle is lit.

Here is a method to make your own custom prayer or devotional candles with text and images of your own choosing. You can use them to hold a special person, holiday, or purpose in mind, or you can use them for more decorative rather than devotional purposes. They are easy to make and impressive on a table, altar, or mantle. These candles also make wonderful, thoughtful gifts to friends who are going through a challenging time.

Getting Started

Plain prayer candles
The Spruce / David Fisher

It's easy to find plain prayer candles online, whether through Amazon or another online purveyor. Search around to find the size, quality, and color you prefer. It's possible to find prayer candles in basic white at a very low price. Alternatively, look for larger candles, beeswax candles, or other specialty options at much higher price points.

Measure the Image Wrap

Marking the size of the wrap
The Spruce / David Fisher

Once you've found your source for plain prayer candles, you'll need to print out the sleeve or wrap that goes on the outside of the jar.

Take a sheet of paper and wrap it around the candle jar with the top of the sheet right under the top ridge of the candle. Make a mark where the sheet overlaps and another mark about 1/2 inch past that to allow for some overlap.

Then, make a mark where the bottom of the jar starts to taper in. You will want about 1/2 inch for overlap as you wrap the image around your candle. You don't need any overlap for the top to bottom measure. Your candle wrap size will vary depending on the supplier of your candles. You may want to try a couple of test sheets to make sure that it will wrap correctly.

Print out the Image Wrap

Placing the image
The Spruce / David Fisher

Once you've got the correct image size for your wrap, you can let your creative ideas flow. You'll have two important choices to make: the type of paper you'll use, and the image you'll print.

The first choice is the type of paper. Translucent vellum paper, either white or cream-colored, is a lovely option. Other possibilities include white paper, tissue paper, or deeper beige parchment paper. You don't want anything too opaque, or the light of the candle won't shine through.

Once you've chosen your paper, you'll create an image. You can draw, paint, or use a collage technique on your paper. Alternatively, you can search online and print out a work of art or photo that speaks to you. Some options include:

  • Famous works of art
  • Family photos
  • Poems or motivational phrases
  • Botanical pictures or images
  • Holiday images
  • Collages of abstract images, textures, and colors
  • Combinations of elements such as a painting or photo with a poem on the back, or a holiday image with the lyrics of a carol on the back, etc.

Print out or draw the image, and test wrap it on the candle to make sure that it's going to fit properly.

Put Glue Onto the Candle

Putting glue onto the candle
The Spruce / David Fisher

If you're using a collage of small images, especially abstract images, you can use the "brush and glue" technique: just brush the glue onto the jar and place the pieces of paper.

However, if you're using one large piece of paper or one large image, you'll want to use a different, much lighter glue technique. A good option is to use a glue stick. Put six to eight vertical stripes of glue on the jar, just enough to hold the paper to the jar.

Wrap the Candle

Wrapping the candle
The Spruce / David Fisher

Once you've put the glue on the jar, set the jar on the counter and very carefully wrap the paper around the candle. Make sure that the paper is level and even with the top of the candle. Add a bit more glue on the 1/2 inch of overlap and lay the final edge down. Using a soft towel or cloth, rub the paper wrap so that it adheres well to the jar.

Enjoy Your Custom Candles

Lit custom prayer candles
The Spruce / David Fisher

Once the paper wraps are dry, the candles are ready to use. While it is highly unlikely that a candle with a paper wrapping will catch fire, it's always best to be careful. As with any burning candle, you must follow basic candle-burning procedures. Don't leave candles unattended, check them periodically to make sure they are burning properly. If the wick drifts too close to the side of the jar, either move it back to the center or stop burning the candle.