Last year, I was introduced to the concept of the Novena; a type of prayer (found mostly in Hispanic cultures and fellowships) that is continually offered for nine days, and usually with specific intention. Though I am inclined to believe that the idea behind the Novena has certainly been abused and taught inappropriately, I am also of the mindset that the principle and sentiment behind it can prove very useful; especially when the motivation behind the heart of purity is one that simply wants to being pleasing to God and helpful to man. Especially when ultimate goal is just to know that personal windfall of God for yourself.
So, allow me to present to some and to remind others about the Novena concept. While I do believe that this type of praying is more "traditional" than "Scriptural" (per se), paradoxically, the concept seems completely Biblical. I am also of the mindset that there’s value and good in just about everything. So, while I don’t believe that mindlessly chanting and/or reciting one monotonous prayer over a period of nine days will bring about a GUARANTEED miraculous change, I do believe that it sets the stage for God to work His special grace into our hearts and lives – during such a consecrated and dedicated time of devotion.
The story of the Novena can be traced to Acts 1. After forty days (according to Acts 1:3) of seeing Jesus after His death and hearing Him speak Personally about the kingdom of God, the disciples (part of one hundred twenty believers) sequestered themselves in an upper room to pray. I don’t think they went into it intercession with the idea that they were going to pray for nine days, but I do believe that they set their face as flint and decided that they would endure as long as it took. When I read in between the lines of Truth of Acts 1-2, I see how the conditions had to be just right in order for God to move like a “mighty rushing wind”. Remember, we're talking 120 people, not 2.
What do I mean? On the forty first day - and for 9 days following - 120 men and women prayed, worshiped, and perhaps even fasted. For 9 days they consecrated their hearts, minds, mouths, ears, imaginations, feelings and emotions, pasts, and desired futures unto God. THEY GAVE HIM EVERYTHING. They laid out their grievances and gripes, as well as their faith, trusts, hopes, and believes. I’m sure that they confessed their evil doings and thinking, and repented of everything they could think of. I’m also of the faith that they confessed and declared every promise of God that they could ever remember reading or hearing about. I’m ALSO very sure that they praised and thanked God for every miracle that they could ever remember seeing Jesus perform, or read about Jehovah manifesting.
And I'm also sure that they had no focus on the fact that what they were doing would be remembered, let alone named. So, they continued on. THIS is the very essence of the Novena itself: to persevere in prayer. To war for the Promise that was promised! God told them to in Acts 1:4 to wait for the Promise, and wait was what they were willing to do. But they would not just wait and tweet. They would not just wait and watch television. But, they were determined to wait IN the Presence of God FOR the Presence of God. I believe tTHAT’S trust and determination at its finest.
So, while there is no Spiritual mandate to pray for 9 days, it just so happened that after 9 days of offering up everything they could to God, the stage was set perfectly for the God of the Resurrection to act. After 9 days of dedicated, sincere, trusting, and patient prayer, the God Who inhabits our praises MOVED. On that fiftieth day, at the precise second that every heart in that house connected on ONE accord, God descended. The Lord swept through like an earthquake, and He left them with fire. Two of the strongest elements I know.
So, while I cannot, will not, and do not promise you that God will move as emphatically for you simply because you choose to participate in a “Novena”, I do believe that He has asked me to propose this prayer technique to you today. As He leads you, be willing to - for a period of 9 days - set your mind and heart to seek the Lord for specific concerns in your life, marriage/relationships. Taking one concern/desire a day, arm yourself with Scripture and praise that supports your petitions. Maybe for a nine-day period you pray one facet of the Fruit of Spirit a day (Galatians 5:22-23). Or perhaps for a nine-day period, you pray more direct, exact, and practical help as it relates to your direct relationships or life.
For example, perhaps you can easily recite 9 issues that you feel need the Lord’s touch immediately – either directly for you or for your relationships. Such as:
John 19:26 - Needing new eyes to see. In this Scripture, Christ gave His friend John and His mother Mary fresh new eyes, that they would begin to build a new bond between the two of them.
Proverbs 19:11 - Forgiving them. Are you holding anything against your spouse, or, holding them up against anything; or anyone? Are you holding them to some impossible standard that humanly they just can’t meet right now? Forgive them of their shortcoming (for we all have some), and declare the release aloud; whether directly to them or aloud in prayer and worship unto God. Remember, it is to your glory to overlook the offense.
1 Corinthians 10:31 - Seeking God for better eating habits (or better health).
Genesis 22 – Your faith. Your faith in God to provide. To provide answers, to provide resources, to provide salvation, to provide forgiveness, to provide comfort, to provide reassurance, to provide direction . . .
Hebrews 13:4 – Your sex life. Only you know the condition of your sex life right now, and the plans and hopes that God has for it. If you don't, ask Him to show you.
Numbers 30:2 – Commitment. Doing your part to do what you said to God that you would.
Hebrews 13:15 – Increasing / Bettering your worship to God.
Ephesians 6:18 – Increasing / Bettering your prayer life.
Romans 12:2 – Knowing what God is requiring of you, specifically, in this season.
Again, these are just nine random prayer prompts. I’m sure you have your own, but feel free to use these as a springboard. But above all else, think it not strange if the Lord calls for a more concentrated, targeted effort in our prayers. The novena. :)