How to Pray: Novenas

Novenas are a type of Catholic prayer practice in which we pray for nine consecutive days. The idea of novenas comes from what is considered to be “the first novena:” the Apostles gathered together after the Ascension of Jesus, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 

Why pray a novena?

Novenas are usually prayed for a specific intention or grace, such as for a loved one, for healing, forgiveness, clarity with a big decision, etc. Though novenas are not magic – we do not assume that our prayers will be answered – they do help us grow in discipline and open us up to God’s will, so that whether our intention is answered or not, we finish the nine days in thanksgiving for God’s presence in our lives. 

When do you pray a novena?

While some novenas are prayed during specific times, such as The Divine Mercy Novena that begins on Good Friday, you really can pray a novena at any time. Traditionally, many people choose to pray novenas asking for a saint’s intercession on the nine days leading up to that saint’s feast day, or in the nine days before or after a special event. 

Types of novenas:

Anticipation novenas: These are prayed before or after a funeral, praying for the soul of the person who has died, and asking God to be close to those who mourn them.

Preparation novenas: These are prayed on the nine days before a sacrament or other important day, with the hope of preparing for that day, for example, a novena before your wedding day or leading up to Christmas.  

Petition novenas: These are novenas directly asking God to answer a prayer, or asking a specific saint for their prayers. For these, it is common to choose a saint based on your petition, for example, if you are praying for something to do with employment, you might pray the St. Joseph the Worker novena.

Indulgence novenas: These are prayed as an act of penitence for sins, asking God for His mercy. They are often given as a penance after the sacrament of confession.  

How to pray a novena:

  1. Choose a novena based on whatever it is you are praying for. 
  2. Dedicate nine days to praying this novena. It might be helpful to set aside a specific time, or to ask someone to pray it with you. 
  3. Accompany your prayers with other acts of faith. This might be fasting, which doesnt just have to be from food, but can be fasting from social media, gossip, worry, etc. 
  4. Remember, novenas aren’t magic – if you come to the end of your novena and your prayers appear to be unanswered, know that God hears your prayers and loves you. And often, our prayers are not answered in the way we hoped. Ask for God’s help in trusting in Him and in desiring that His will be done. 

In Hallow, you’ll find the Surrender Novena and the 54 Day Novena, and we are continuing to add more! We hope to pray with you soon.