Even before the coming of Christ, the divine service in the Jerusalem church was accompanied by censing – that is, the burning of incense, as a sign of prayer to God, in a special metal vessel on chains (a censer) that was used at certain times by priests. The Christian Church inherited this tradition and during a church service, you will often see a censuring clergyman. While censuring, he utters to himself Psalm 50 (“Have mercy on me, O God…”) and turning to cense the people, says to them: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will flash on you”. To this, the worshipers (without crossing themselves) bow from the waist and everyone quietly answers: “Your good spirit will guide me on the right path”. According to the patristic interpretation, the smoke from the incense indicates the invisible grace of the Holy Spirit of God, which is in the Church.
Wax candles are another kind of liturgical sacrifice to God. Their flame in the candle holders before the holy icons expresses our inner prayer burning in front of the Lord Himself, His Blessed Mother and the saints and therefore, it is necessary to put up each candle with a prayer. This prayer must relate to the icon in front of which a candle is placed. Thus, placing a candle before the icon of the Savior, when crossing yourself, quietly say the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. Or: “Lord, bless”.
These prayers can be pronounced before any other icon. Respectively, the prayer said before the icon of the Mother of God is: “Most holy Lady, Mother of God, save me, a sinner and Thy servant”, before the holy Cross of Christ: “Glory, O Lord, to Thy Honourable cross”, and before the icons of saints is said a prayer to them (for example, to St. Nicholas “Holy hierarch of Christ, Nicholas, pray to God for me, a sinner“). The candle must be placed straight, without tilting in any direction, and after putting it up, cross yourself and bow once from the waist with a corresponding prayer.
To put up candles or remove small candles from the candleholder that will soon burn out, this should be done without disrupting the service. We must wait until the end of the most important prayers and only then go to the candleholder.