What Can We Learn From Novenas…

… I made it through two whole novenas and suddenly I’m the expert. Neat how that works.

This past novena to St. Ann taught me several things about payer in general. The main thing it taught me was that I was doing prayer, for the most part, wrong. Or rather, imperfectly.

I was approaching novenas in a very methodical manner, much the same way I approach my regular prayer.

Here, Lord, are my prayers for this particular thing. Please grant my wish. Amen. Oh, PS. God, you’re an awesome God.

youre-doing-it-wrong

Over the course of those nine days though, I noticed the novena prayers themselves were quite beautiful and so much more than simple requests and petitions.

The prayers expressed a trusting in God’s will and a desire to overcome sinfulness.

Great Saint Anne, engrave indelibly on my heart and in my mind the words that have reclaimed and sanctified so many sinners:

“What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul?” May this be the principal fruit of these prayers by which I will strive to honor you during this novena.

…that I may be preserved from all sin, that I may gain eternal salvation…

Vouchsafe to commend me to Jesus and Mary so that, at your request, I may be granted remission of my sins, perseverance, the love of God, charity for all mankind, and the special grace of…

I so easily give way to impatience and discouragement; and so easily give up praying when God does not at once answer my request. Prayer is the key to all heavenly treasures and I cannot pray, because my weak faith and lack of confidence fail me at the slightest delay.

I beg you to help me in all spiritual and temporal dangers; to guide me in the true path of Christian perfection, and finally to obtain for me the grace of a happy death, so that I may contemplate your beloved Jesus and daughter Mary in your loving companionship throughout all eternity.

Alleviate their sufferings; cause them to sanctify their sufferings by patience and complete submission to the Divine Will…

There’s something to be said for prescribed prayer. I know a lot of people don’t consider them heartfelt or spontaneous enough. But we can’t pray in a truly heartfelt manner unless we learn what genuine prayer looks like. Prayers like the rosary, chaplets, novenas, and litanies essentially teach us how to pray.

They teach us that there is a rhythm to prayer, that is must be done daily and faithfully, and most of all they teach us that our prayer is not about us, except to bring us closer to Him.

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