How to Pray a Novena
What is a Novena?
The word novena is taken from “novem,” the Latin word for nine. A novena is made up of nine days of prayer and meditation usually to ask God for special prayer requests or petitions. Novenas are often used to ask specific saints to pray for us. The Saint Jude Novena, for example, is prayed to ask Saint Jude to intercede on behalf of a request that seems especially dire.
Novenas are an ancient tradition that goes back to the days of the Apostles. Jesus told His disciples to pray together after His ascension into heaven, so they went to an upper room along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, (Acts 1:14) and joined constantly in prayer for nine days. These nine days of constant prayer by the Apostles at the direction of Jesus led up to Pentecost. This is when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:1-4). This pattern of 9 days of prayer is the basis the novenas we pray today.
Thus, the novena is an imitation of the Lord’s command to the Apostles when they prayed for 9 days in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
How do I pray a Novena?
If you sign up here, we will send you the announcement for each novena, a reminder, and the daily prayers for the 9 days of the novena. We will also send you an e-mail on the feast day or last day of the novena, as well as share answered prayers with you from other people in the community.
All you need to do is to say the daily prayers with a sincere heart. It is not necessary to pray at the same time every day (although you can), or to fast, or to pray the rosary in addition to the novena; however, you can still do all of these things in addition to praying, but they are not required. If they are, we will tell you in our e-mails.
Novenas should not be seen as magical incantations that guarantee desired results. God controls the universe and we certainly do not control God. He is not a genie in a bottle, but rather He is a loving Father in heaven. This means that whatever good intentions we pray for, we must accept the fact that God knows what’s best for us, whether we understand His divine intention or not. “Thy will be done” is the proper posture of all Christian prayer. Any so-called novena prayer circulating around that contains guaranteed results, and threatening misfortune for those who fail to devote themselves to it is merely a chain-letter; these should be ignored.
Nonetheless, Jesus reminds us in the Gospel to be persistent in prayer and a novena is a great aid in doing just that!
What if I miss a day?
That’s okay, it happens! If you a miss a day, you can do one of a few things…
You can either: 1) skip the day you missed altogether, 2) say two of the daily prayers in one day to catch up, or 3) say the prayer of the day you missed and just be one day behind everybody else.
It’s up to you, and whatever you choose to do is okay. There are no “rules” and there are no “consequences.” God is forgiving and merciful!
Should I have the same intention for all 9 days or should I have a different intention for each day?
You can do either one :) What matters most is how you come to the Lord with that intention — with a sincere heart that is open to God’s will.
You can find a novena to pray here.