I always enjoy reading US Catholic. I don't always agree with everything that they print, but it does always get me thinking. One good article in the May 2008 issue was "Good Things Come in Nines" by Ginny Kubitz Moyer. She writes of being asked to do a novena for a relative of a friend. The woman handed her what she described was a sheet containing a "sad, Byzantine Mary and a short prayer. 'I'd be happy to,' I told her, but inside I was thinking, 'Novenas? I don't do novenas.'" She did keep her word, however, and said that prayer for nine days in a row. The experience made her a believer.
She writes, "Since then, I've prayed several novenas, and I've come to value their steady structure and unique rhythm. I always start off strong, full of zeal. Around day four, I get bored, but I keep on plugging. By day nine I've broken through the monotony and recovered the beauty of prayer." In conclusion, she states that "nine isn't a magic number that unlocks God's heart. It's the number that opens mine."
In my life, I've said countless novenas. Right now, I am doing a rosary novena, which is actually 54 days (6 sets of nine - 3 sets in petition, 3 sets in thanksgiving) for a difficult decision I'm struggling with. I can attest to the power of novenas and to the power of prayer in general. If you have never said a novena, I strongly encourage you to try it. Like Moyer, you may well be transformed by the experience. The Prayer section on my website lists several prayers that can be used for novenas.