My grandpa and I used to joke that he would need to pray a “novena” for me each week instead of regular prayers because I needed lots of help!
But I had no idea what a novena actually was. I thought it was days or even weeks of non-stop prayer. That’s why I’d laugh when I’d picture “Pop” doing a novena.
This past summer, I was feeling especially in need of God’s grace and mercy and had remembered reading something about Mary Undoer of Knots. I did some googling and found her novena on Pray More Novenas (also an excellent site).
It was much more simple than I expected! I truly felt like the 9 days of prayer helped undo some knots, so I started doing more novenas, including ones to Saint Dymphna and Saint Anne (grandmother of Jesus). I find them very comforting, like an anchor in the throes of life! The daily reminder to trust in God’s will is something I need.
What’s a Novena?
It’s 9 days of prayer for a special intention (like healing or peace) where you ask a saint to pray/intercede on your behalf. The novenas are usually pre-written and the only part you need to “adlib” is your intention!
For example, in the Saint Anne Novena, your intention may be to pray for your pregnant sister because Saint Anne is often called on to intercede for women in labor!
The novena prayers can be relatively short (like a minute or two per day), or they may consist of longer prayers that take more time.
If you want more information about novenas, I recommend these resources:
How the App Works
I downloaded the free “Pray: The Catholic Novenas” app, which contains dozens of novenas (for Apple and Android!).
29 of them are free. A few others are accessible only to “patrons.” These are people who pay either $4.99 or $9.99 per year to support the development of the app. It seems like new Novenas are added fairly regularly.
The app is very easy to navigate. The list of novenas starts at the top with the most current novena, meaning the one that is being prayed right now or is about to be prayed, based on its traditional dates.
But you can pray them at any time you want. There’s not a hard and fast rule that you can only pray a certain novena on certain days!
I recommend reading a little bit about each novena and saint, and then decide if it’s the one for you at this time. I enjoy reading about the saints’ different paths to holiness.
When you find a novena you like, you can click on the option on the bottom to “pray the novena.” The novena will then automatically be added to your “Praying” tab. You can keep adding to this tab as much as you want. As you can see, it shows the novenas you’re currently praying and those that you want to pray next!
It’ll ask you if want a reminder to pray the novena every day for the entire 9 days (I recommend this!).
You can also put in a prayer request for yourself or others by clicking on the upload sign (the box with arrow pointing up) in the top right hand corner of the novena you’re praying.
You’ll need to log in to Facebook to put in the request. Since I don’t like using Facebook, I didn’t try this part out, but I can just say during my intentions to pray for all the requests of everyone else using the app.
Wishing for a Search Function
Right now, there’s no search function. So if you’re looking for a novena for chastity (or a novena to a particular saint), you’d have to read through all the descriptions to see which saint people typically pray to for chastity (Saint Josephine Bakhita).
This is such a minor thing because in the grand scheme, you can pray any novena for any intention. If the app gets to a point of having hundreds of novenas, then I think a Search bar would be really helpful.
That said, I’d also encourage people to pray all the novenas on the app at some point! That’s my goal.
I’d love to interview the creator of the app (Devin Rose) on Consumer Catholic. On one of the novenas (St Josephine Bakhita) he asks for special prayers for his daughter, Josephine (named after the saint), who he says was diagnosed with leukemia.
I did a bit of research online and it looks like she’s in remission! Praise Jesus! Devin is a convert by way of atheism and Protestantism and has written many books. I hadn’t heard of him before the app, but now I’m really interested in reading some of his books. My book list keeps growing and growing!
I’m so grateful for this app! It’s a free and simple way to add some daily prayer into your life.
I often do my Novenas on my commute to work (I’m not driving, don’t worry). It grounds me and gets me going on the right foot, reminding me that Earth is not our forever home.
A novena is not a magical formula to get whatever you want. The person you want healed may not recover from their illness. That job offer may not come through. You might not get pregnant immediately.
Ultimately, I think the novenas bring you closer to Christ, which in turn leads to more peace. I think the more we’re able to lean on and trust God even when things aren’t going our way, the more our faith grows and the closer we get to an unshakable peace.