10/10/2001 The "Right" Way To Pray To St. Jude
One of the most common questions we receive at the St. Jude Novena Site is one that asks for advice about how to pray the novena to St. Jude. Often the question concerns the "mechanics" of praying, including the precise order of saying the prayers, the frequency, and the environment in which the prayers are said. On our web site, we have a section called Praying the Novena which discusses some of these things. It seems like there is a real fear that if one doesn't pray "correctly", it will affect the chances of having one's petitions granted.
I would like to start by assuring you that our requests are not given style points which determine whether or not St. Jude will "forward" the petition to God, and whether God will respond to us. Remember, God knows our wants and needs before we ask for them. He is infinitely more interested that we make the choice out of our own free will to put ourselves in His hands and communicate our needs to Him, than in having us try to impress Him with our ritual.
There are 2 reasons why The St. Jude Novena Site suggests you follow a frequency of praying a certain amount of prayers for a certain number of days: first, by following the same way of praying as believers have over the ages, we place ourselves squarely within the same beautiful tradition of asking our Lord for help in our difficult times in the way that our predecessors have. Doing that not only respects and honors the tradition of praying the Novena, but also bonds us with those who came before. Recall how St. Jude urged Christians of his era to "be strong and act in the same way your forefathers did".
The second reason is because in order to pray the Novena successfully, you should establish a rhythm or outline for praying. In other words, set aside a specific time and place, free from your daily distractions (I know, easier said than done!) to pray. This routine helps insure a consistency to your praying. The best environment is usually a quiet location where you can really meditate and get in touch with yourself. Your goal should be to establish a "channel", that is, be at total peace and able to open yourself to communicating your needs to St. Jude and God. Of course, if you are someone who can concentrate when surrounded by noise, that's fine too!
Regarding the prayer to say, we provide a full page of St. Jude Novena Prayers for you to use, but expressing your own simple request in a way which opens your heart to being helped is also a beautiful way of communicating your request. And of course, publishing your message on The St. Jude Novena Site is a great way to solidify your petition and help encourage devotion to St. Jude by others.
So remember, when it comes to prayer, style only counts if it is backed up by substance. Whether you scream out your prayer in the middle of a crowded street or recite it quietly in a dark room, you can be assured St. Jude and our Lord hear it, as long as you are truly prepared to show the unshakable faith and determined hope that are needed to receive the gifts of spiritual comfort and healing.