It’s really easy to pray a novena. There are 3 basic steps involved:
- Choose a novena
- Choose a prayer intention for the novena
- Pray the novena prayer once per day for 9 days
Read all about how to pray a novena in full detail below. The difficulty that most people have is remembering to pray each day and staying on track for all 9 days.
The #1 way to pray a novena is with the Pray Catholic Novena app. The app has over 4,000 5-star reviews, is simple to use, and it keeps you on track while praying novenas.
What Is A Novena?
A novena is a traditional Catholic form of prayer where you ask our Lord to answer a specific need or prayer request over a period of nine days.
Most novenas are directed to God through a particular saint (e.g. the St. Joseph Novena), so you are asking for the saint’s prayers each day for the specific intention.
Some novenas are longer (e.g. the 30-day St. Joseph Novena or the 54-day Rosary novena), but traditionally they are nine days.
The first novena was inspired by Christ Himself who, at the time of His Ascension into Heaven, told the Apostles to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost); the Apostles went to Jerusalem and prayed with our Blessed Mother for nine days, awaiting the gift of the Spirit (Acts 1).
The Holy Spirit then descended upon Mary and the Apostles in the Upper Room. Thus the Novena to the Holy Spirit is the first novena.
How Do You Pray a Novena?
No one dogmatic way exists to pray a novena. However over the course of history in the Church, standard traditional practices have developed.
1. Choose a Novena
You can choose either 1) by finding a novena tailored to your specific prayer request, or 2) by praying a novena on its traditional prayer dates.
For the first option, you can find who the patron saint is for your particular need: St. Jude for impossible or “hopeless” causes, St. Joseph for fatherhood, work, and many other things, St. Anne for a woman to find her future husband, St. Peregrine for cancer sufferers, and so on. Then choose the novena for that saint and begin praying it.
For the second option, you pray a novena that has a traditional date that it is prayed, and offer your intention as the prayer request to God for the novena. For instance, the Divine Mercy Novena takes place beginning Good Friday and ending a week from Easter Sunday (on Divine Mercy Sunday).
St. Joseph’s Novena begins in early March and ends on his feastday of March 19th. Other novenas however have no date set for them and can be prayed anytime (Mary Undoer of Knots for instance).
2. Pray Once Per Day with Your Intention
Once per day, pray the novena prayer, asking God for your particular intention.
Usually, a novena will have either one set prayer you pray each day, or it will have a standard introductory or concluding prayer, plus a daily prayer that varies each day.
With the Pray Catholic Novena Prayers app, each day the novena prayer is compiled for you based on the day you are on, so you do not have to figure it out yourself.
If you miss a day, the prayer app will also prompt you to continue praying up to the day you should be on, so that too is made easy. Missing a day happens to everyone at some point and should not be cause for alarm. Novenas are not superstitious: our Lord hears your prayers and grants the requests through His perfect Wisdom and Love.
3. Meditate on the Prayer
A beneficial practice used by all the saints is to meditate on some truth of the Faith at least once per day for five to fifteen minutes. Meditation is not magical, and is not Eastern Mysticism. Instead, you simply raise your heart and mind to God and contemplate some truth of Catholicism.
For instance, you could meditate upon the suffering of Jesus during His Passion (betrayal, agony in the garden, scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying His Cross, Crucifixion). You could meditate on the four marks of the Church (one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic), or her three attributes (authority, infallibility, indefectibility (that she will never be destroyed or defeated)).
Meditation goes perfectly with novena prayers because you can meditate on the prayers of the novena: for example on the goodness of God as manifested by His saints and especially by His Blessed Mother.
For more on meditation, read this article on it.
You’re On Your Way!
Novenas are a wonderful way to grow closer to God in your faith. We are blessed in the Catholic Church to have access to the communion of saints, God’s family. We are not alone but can help each other through prayer to God.
Further, because death does not separate us from God in the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), we can pray for God’s mercy on the souls of those who have died, and ask for the prayers of the saints, whom the Church infallibly declares to be with God in Heaven.
Now you know how to pray a novena. Great! I’ve spent the past 17 years as a Catholic praying different novenas, and I compiled this list of the most powerful novenas in the Church for you to choose one easily.
So start praying a novena today!