When I first heard the term novena, it was usually used colloquially to describe the last resort in a difficult situation, as in, you-need-a-novena-it's-so-bad.
Now, I know the true meaning of a novena as a daily prayer in an 8 day period where you pray for specific intentions in a specific way. It sounds so practical put that way, because it is. Sometimes prayer, the big vague term, can be just that. Where do I begin? What should I say? Usually my prayers were more like complaints and straight up nagging.
After subscribing last Fall to praymorenovenas.com, a beautiful apostolate started by a young married couple, the first novena I did was to St. Therese, essentially asking her to pray for me. Each morning I received a short email with the directed prayer for that day, with the space to [insert my intentions], and the simple 30 seconds it took to read changed the way I pray for good. My soul's desires, my deepest hopes, were inserted into those brackets and suddenly I felt lighter. I found myself musing over my intentions throughout the day and feeling completely at peace that I had expressed them to God. The kind of peace you have when you know it may not work out exactly as you picture it, but that good is bound to come from the simple exercise of deliberately expressing it.
Nearly 1 year later, and I can count every single time a prayer was answered and I know it's not because God is suddenly answering my prayers, it's because I am aware of my intentions and waiting to see their resolutions. It has deepened my faith in ways I can't explain, and I know it has made me a better woman, wife, mother, and friend.