Home » Blog » Positive Living » What are the 4 Themes of Advent?



Share this story

What are the 4 Themes of Advent?

Advent is a holy time to reflect, pray, and light a candle for these four themes. 

Four red lit candles symbolizing the four Advent themes

The Advent season is a time for reflection and anticipation—reflection on our spiritual lives, and anticipation for the arrival of Christmas. While Advent traditions vary based on religious denominations and cultures, one common practice includes focusing on four themes. These themes, or virtues, can be various things. The most common Advent themes are hope, peace, joy, and love.

Some traditions include lighting a different candle on a wreath each Sunday of Advent and reflecting a different theme. Here are the four themes of Advent, along with prayers, Bible verses, and practices to help you pray or meditate on their importance in your life.

READ MORE: Advent Candles and Holders Perfect for the Advent Season

Advent Themes #1: Hope

A woman with her eyes closed outside in nature thinking about the four advent themesWhat is Hope?

Hope is an active anticipation in the ability to reach desired goals,” says Dr. Steven Sandage, a theologian and psychologist. “It requires a willingness to put energy toward those goals.”

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about hope is when we need it in our lives. Hope may not be necessary when we are faced with an easy task. It comes when we are faced with something that feels impossible. Hope requires belief. As Dr. Sandage says, “because without some belief in the possibility of getting toward a desired end, it’s hard to make progress in life.”

A Prayer for Hope

“Lord, You love me and by Your grace have given me eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. Now, comfort and strengthen me in every good thing I do and say.” —Bob Hostetler

Bible Verses about Hope

  • The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:5
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:13
  • Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. —Hebrews 11:1

The Candle of Hope

As you light the candle of hope, think about all the things you are hoping to accomplish now and in the future. Dr. Lea Waters, a positive psychology expert, suggests making a list of things you’ve always wanted to do. “Suspend your reality for the moment and allow yourself to feel happy about this imagined future,” she says. “Later, you can focus on mundane realities like budget, but for now just let your brain dream.”

READ MORE: Join us on November 27, 2022, as we observe the 28 days of Advent.

Advent Themes #2: Peace

A man outside looking up and praying for the advent theme of peaceWhat is Peace?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace as “a state of tranquility or quiet: such as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” However, inner peace can be a little more complicated than that. Peace in your heart is a yearning for wholeness, connection, and calm. This does not mean being at peace means you will feel it all the time.

This was very much the case for Carolyne Aarsen, who learned an important lesson about peace after the loss of her foster son with cerebral palsy. “I learned that peace is not the absence of pain,” she said in her Guideposts story, “peace is the presence of God.”

A Prayer for Peace

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen. —The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Bible Verses about Peace

  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. —John 14:27
  • Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. —2 Thessalonians 3:16
  • The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. —Numbers 6:26

The Candle of Peace

As you light the candle of peace, take a moment to pray for this important Advent theme. You can pray for peace in the world, peace in your community, peace in your family, or peace within yourself. These prayers can bring you comfort and ease your worries.

READ MORE: 5 Advent Prayers for Peace, Joy, Hope, and Love

Advent Themes #3: Joy

A smiling woman in a yellow shirt feeling joyful about the advent themesWhat is Joy?

Some may view joy and happiness as the same thing. A feeling of being content and filled with pleasure. However, we should remember that joy is something much more spiritual and intentional. So, what is the difference between happiness and joy?

“Whereas happiness is shaped by external circumstances, joy is found deep within,” says Guideposts contributor Pablo Diaz. “Unless we are intentional in discovering the gift of joy in ordinary things, it will not happen.”

A Prayer for Joy

Our Heavenly Father, help us to think the kind of thoughts that give us joy and that transmit joy. Help us to get in our hearts the love of Christ, that we may love people, so that they find joy. —Norman Vincent Peale

Bible Verses about Joy

  • And Mary said “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” —Luke 1:46-48
  • I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. —Philippians 1:3-4
  • These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full. —John 15:11

The Candle of Joy

As you light the candle for this Advent theme, visualize the things that bring you joy. Whether that is an activity, a person, or a place, intentionally make whatever brings you joy a part of your day. Joy doesn’t just happen; it’s up to us to choose it daily.

READ MORE: 10 Interesting Advent Facts to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Advent Themes #4: Love

Gloved hands making a heart symbol for the advent theme of loveWhat is Love?

Last, but certainly not least, the final Advent theme is love. It is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can be uplifting, life-changing, and sometimes even devastating. But what exactly is love?

Love can be the love we feel for our families, or friends, or our significant others. It can be the love we feel for ourselves. But could love also be something deeper? Novelist Paulo Coelho said that loving others brings us closer to our spirituality. Understanding love better helps us understand God. “God and love are synonymous,” says minister Oswald Chambers. “Love is not an attribute of God, it is God; whatever God is, love is.”

Prayers for Love

Lord, help me feel Your love, that above all things I may know I am loved by You. —Pablo Diaz

Lord, thanks for the gift of love and for those who help us discover its meaning and power. —Pablo Diaz

Bible Verses about Love

  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16
  • Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. —1 Corinthians 13:7
  • My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:12-13

The Candle of Love

As you light the candle for love, focus on the love God feels for you. Remember that relationships may come and go, but God’s love for you is unending. Pray or meditate on the ways that God loves you and how you see His love in your daily life.

How do you plan to pray or meditate on the 4 themes of Advent this year?

READ MORE: Favorite Advent Carols That Keep Christ in Christmas

READ MORE: 10 Things You Might Not Know About Advent Calendars

Share this story

Community Newsletter

Get More Inspiration Delivered to Your Inbox

Scroll to Top

Choice Billing Address


You have no billing addresses.