A novena is a way of prayer. A prayer is an act of devotion, recollection, and invocation. We can recite the prayer for various purposes and for different reasons. Examples are: alone or in a group, during a particular occasion or daily, in sacred places, or in one's own home.
Novena has an origin that goes back to the times of Jesus. As the name says, "Novena" derives from nine. It’s the number of days that elapsed between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost. Pentecost is a festival that celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on Earth.
The Origin of the Novena
Mary and the Apostles prayed between the Ascension and Pentecost (Acts of the Apostles 1: 12 – 2: 13). This fact led to the creation of the Novena. It's a devotional practice that entails praying for nine days. The prayer is usually for a certain cause or an upcoming event. Among these events are Christmas, the commemoration of the dead, etc.
Novenas are popular among Catholics. They are not included in the Church's official prayers. Novenas are additives. In actuality, they have always gone along with the official liturgies. Catholics believe praying Novenas invokes the Holy Spirit. The story of Mary and the Apostles cannot lie. No matter the situation at hand, the Holy Spirit reverts it to the will of God through novenas.
How to Pray the Novena
We need not be superstitious or expect immediate rewards from God. Faith and devotion are key factors when praying. Then you can ask for intercession from God, the Saints, Jesus, or Our Lady. You can intercede for a loved one or for a particular situation. Praying a novena close to a holiday like Easter is also in order.
In practicing the Novena, it is important to observe what makes it unique and special.
You can pray for nine consecutive days, once a day.
It will be a period of interior recollection and reflection. It turns one's thoughts to the reason for which the Novena is being lived.
An alternative could be to pray once an hour for nine hours.
You can also choose a particular prayer and pray it nine times a day every day. Once you get what you want, you can wind it up with a thanksgiving prayer.
The intensity of prayer depends on the need.
Types of Novenas
We have novenas of indulgence, that is, those recited to ask for the remission of sins, as an act of penance. There are also novenas in preparation for a sacrament or a feast day such as Christmas. Novenas are bridges that lead to breakthroughs.
Novenas for Celebrations
The Christmas Novena is one of the most common. The Christmas novena was born on Christmas 1720 in Turin. It was in a home of Vincentian missionaries. Catholics recite the Christmas novena from 16th to 24th December. It’s a nine-day preparation of the faithful for the birth of Jesus.
Then we remember the Novena to the Immaculate Virgin. It ends the day before the Immaculate Conception. Also linked to Christian celebrations are the Novena of the dead and Pentecost.
Novenas for Specific Issues
Who to address the Novena to?
Usually, when we pray we turn to God. Novenas addressed to Our Lady and to the Saints are common.
Addressing the Mother of God, the Novena is very widespread in which we pray to Mary who unties the knots. The prayer asks Our Lady to solve some problems that afflict us. Some of them could be vices. Others are the sense of guilt for sin, misunderstandings, quarrels in the family, and so on.
Then there are other figures we address in prayer, especially in certain periods. They are the Saints? We pray through the saints as we approach their anniversaries. These are periods of intense spiritual recollection. We remember the life of the saints, virtues, and miracles. Saints are also powerful intercessory channels.
An example of this is the Novena addressed to Saint Anthony of Padua. We dedicate each day to a reflection on an aspect of a Saint's life such as faith, hope, charity, etc.
St. Francis is another saint Catholics love. When we pray through him, we remember humility, penance, and the endurance of adversity.
Novenas strengthen the faith by approaching and abandoning oneself to God.
Other Powerful ways to pray Novenas
Apart from seeking the intercession of saints, we have more ways to come up with novenas.
Bible Verse Novenas
Vincentian Ministries have been helping Christians through Bible verse novenas for years. During canceling sessions, they provide novenas based on their assessment of the problem.
These novenas do not run for nine days only. You say them according to the priest's prescription. It could go up to sixty days or more.
It’s more like medication. The doctor sometimes tweaks the prescription to suit the patient's needs.
The Vincentians are on record for helping millions of people solve problems. Examples are barrenness, marital disagreements, witchcraft-related challenges, fear, bondage, etc.
God gave priests authority when He said, “what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” These novenas work wonders.
Bible Scripture Novenas
Scripture is God talking to the reader. Sometimes you meet a scripture that relates to what’s on your mind. You can read it with total concentration and conviction for nine days or more. A good example is Psalms 51. It’s a very powerful novena to pray when in need of God’s forgiveness. It worked for David and still works today.
On some days, you feel like you need to talk to God in your own words. One day doesn’t appear to be enough. It’s unlikely that you will remember the exact words the next day.
In such a case, write down those touching words you want to tell God. Pray every day for nine days or more. It's a valuable private covenant time you'll love to repeat over and over again.
Now, I have a testimony.
There is this time I was recovering from surgery.
The Lenten Season came when I was not able to fast. I wrote a thanksgiving prayer and prayed it daily during Lent. By the end of Lent, God had shown me two important factors that have transformed my life and there is no turning back.
When I began this prayer, I didn’t expect anything but God spoke and acted.
How to make Novenas Work in Your Favor
Many people complain that novenas don’t help them. Lack of seriousness during prayer or skipping prayer may be the cause. Avoid doubts. It’s important to give your all to novenas if you expect results. It is more like an exam. Novenas save, repair, open doors, and lead to restoration.