What is a Novena?
A novena is a nine-day prayer commitment focused upon a specific intention. The most common novena is a novena to the Holy Spirit between Ascension of the Lord Thursday and Pentecost Sunday. A novena though may be said at any time of year and there is no limit to the focus of a novena. Click the button below to get your free copy of my novena to the Holy Spirit, A Dose of the Ghost.
Typically, a novena is a catholic tradion. “Protestant novena” may be an oxymoron, because as far as I know a novena is a totally catholic thing. Nevertheless, I created a protestant novena which contains a scripture lesson, meditation, and prayer to be reflected on for nine consecutive days because I love the idea of a multi-day focused prayer commitment. For me, this experience transformed my understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit. I hope it will for you as will.
The Biblical Background for the Traditional Timeframe
According to scripture Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection and continued to spend time with them for forty days. At the end of that forty days, Jesus ascended or more literal “was taken” up into the heavens. The disciples stood and watched as he disappeared into the clouds. A promise was made that the gift of the Holy Spirit was coming soon, which then came to pass ten days later at Pentecost. So, forty days after Easter some traditions celebrate the Ascension of Christ. In the Catholic church, Ascension of the Lord is an obligatory holy day for all catholics. It is also common to observe a novena to the Holy Spirit for the nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost. Some churches celebrate the ascension on the Sunday following Ascension Thursday.
The Why and the Process Behind Creating this Novena
I have often said that if you attempted to express how our denomination regards the different parts of the trinity using fonts, then “God the Father” would be in 48 point arial, “Jesus Christ” would be 12 point times new roman, and the Holy Spirit would be in microfont wingdings. (Refer to the above graphic) Because of this, I decided that a period of prayer and reflection upon the Holy Spirit could be transformative and it was.
To create this novena I brought my Bible and a candle into the sanctuary of our church and a clipboard on which to write. I lit the candle and sung a brief refrain of the words “Come Holy Spirit Come.” Those words and the melody of the refrain were words that had gotten me through an extremely difficult time of praying alone on a mountain through the night. That experience came to mind as I sat down; so, I sung the little refrain nine times as a way to focus my heart and mind upon God.
I sat quietly and reflected upon the verse for about 5 minutes or so and then wrote out the meditation and prayer below. I closed my time of prayer by saying the Lord’s Prayer. So, the pattern was:
–Light a candle
–Open with singing the refrain nine times
–Write a meditation and prayer
–Close with the Lord’s Prayer
Lastly, I want to note that just by choosing to do this, I became more mindful about the Holy Spirit in general. I began praying periodically through the day for the Holy Spirit to teach me. I look forward to how this practice transforms your discipleship. God is so good. Here is the first meditation and prayer.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know HIm because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14: 16-17
John 14:16-17 teaches us four truths about the Holy Spirit and offers us a name, the Spirit of Truth.
The first truth is that the Holy Spirit is a gift from the Father. This gift is given to us at the request of the Son, Jesus Christ. Implicit within the asking is that Christ is concerned for us and desires that we not be alone. That we are in need of help. The word we sometimes translate as helper, is the greek word “paracletos.” It means one called along side to help. It may be translated also as comforter, advocate or even intercessor.
The second truth is evident in the word “paracletos”–we need help. The Holy Spirit is a gift given to aid us.
The third truth is that this gift is eternal. The Holy Spirit will always be with us. The Spirit is not a temporary aid. The Spirit neither leaves us or expires. Other helpers may come and go, but the The Spirit of truth abides with us always.
The fourth truth is that the Spirit is constantly present. The Spirit abides within us. This is aid that we do not need to call upon and wait for it’s arrival for the Spirit is within us wherever we may go.
The world is mentioned and, in some ways, the Spirit seems a complete counterpoint to the world. The world is temporary–The Spirit eternal. The world is outside of us–The Spirit within. The world contains lies–The Spirit is truth.
Spirit of Truth I give you thanks that you abide in me and abide eternally. Over these next nine days, teach me. Bring to me knowledge of the truth to protect me from all that is untrue. Bring to me not only knowledge of truth, but understanding. I pray that I would grasp the meaning and significance of truth that I may be moved to repentance from lies that ensnare me. I pray not only for knowledge and understanding, but bring to me wisdom that I a might rightly apply the truth that I come to know and understand. Lastly, Spirit of Truth, I pray for You to awaken within me an awareness of you. God’s Word assures me that You abide in me. I admit though that too often I neither feel, observe, or heed your presence. This saddens me. May this be no more. May the Spirit of Truth prevail in my every word, action and attitude that I might honor God. I pray these things in the name of the Son, who beseeched the Father to send you to me as a gift. With a heart full of gratitude. Amen.
Blessings and may the Holy Spirit be a vibrant presence in your life.
Part 2, Spirit that Teaches
Part 3, Spirit of Power
Part 4, Spirit of Love
Part5, Spirit of Self-discipline
Part 6,Re-kindling the Spirit
Part 7, Spirit Walking, Pursuing Peace
Part 8, Replacing Your Thoughts With Spirit Thoughts
Part 9, Living in the Spirit for the Common Good
Would you like the entire ‘Dose of the Ghost’ series? If so, I have compiled all nine days of reflection and pray into one convenient ebook. The post are presented as published with the exception of the addition of space for you to write your own inspired prayers about the Holy Spirit.
You can read the guide in one sitting as a primer on the Holy Spirit or use it as a nine day devotional guide to transform you understanding of the nature and work of the Spirit.
Click the button below to download your free copy today.
This post was originally published May 12, 2010 but has been expanded and revised. Blessings.