I got this short e-book for free when it was first released (in December 2014), but didn’t pick it up and actually open it until 10 days ago. Since the authors, John-Paul and Annie Deddens, run a website called praymorenovenas.com it probably should have been obvious to me that a book called “9 Days to a Deeper Prayer Life with the Holy Spirit” would be a novena to the Holy Spirit…but for some reason it never occurred to me. So, I opened it up to see what this book was all about and discovered it’s an e-book version of a novena the authors wrote for the express purpose of praying for a deeper prayer life. While I’ve been a subscriber to the authors’ site for a couple of years, I have to say it’s been a long, long time since I’ve actually prayed any of the prayers…so I decided to “read” (ie, pray) the book. Below are some thoughts I have about the book!
So, firstly – I’m impressed that the authors made the effort to get an “imprimatur,” which is a simple declaration from a representative of the Catholic Church that a book is “free from doctrinal or moral error.” Essentially, you can be sure there is nothing in the book that will expressly contradict established teachings of the Church. There are lots of books that have one, and lots that don’t. I like it when they have one – then I don’t feel like I have to weed through and be attentive that I’m not leading myself astray.
Secondly, the book gives a nice little background explanation about what a novena is, how it came to be, and why one might consider praying one. I’d never read about the origins of novenas before and so I found this to be quite useful and interesting. The authors also provide some background thoughts on why it’s important to strengthen our relationship with the Holy Spirit. While this is super basic and takes only a few pages, I think it was a great section to include and touches on some important ideas. If you’re interested in understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, this provides a nice, short explanation.
Finally, the book then goes into the nine days of prayer. The prayers are short and simple and took me between five and ten minutes to pray each night for nine nights. I don’t know exactly that I’d say I have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit today than I did ten days ago, but I can say that reading the book motivated me to actually pray every night for the past nine nights. As important as my Catholic faith is to me, I fall very, very easily into an “academic” or “intellectual” rather than a truly lived faith. I appreciate and make an effort to understand the doctrine and the “rules,” but have a hard time talking to God or allowing an emotional connection. Alas, all the thinking is nothing without the relationship, and I do feel this book was, for me, one small step in the direction of strengthening that relationship.
What surprised me the most reading this book is how easy and comfortable it felt to simply open up my Kindle every night before bed and pray the short prayers. I’ve tried a lot of different formats in the past with little success (this has more to do with me than the formats, of course), and this, I think, could be a winner for me. It occurred to me that I could even put all the prayers of a novena together (if that’s what I chose to pray) in a Word document and email it to my Kindle…and then just do the same thing I did with this book. It’s occurred to me since reading this book, also, to get an e-copy of the Bible – maybe it would feel less intimidating to read a short passage on my Kindle before bed than to break out the actual book? Who knows… the point is, I think, that the authors accomplished their purpose with me (a year + after gifting me and their other subscribers with the book) – I prayed more because of this book, and I’m thinking about praying more than I had been before. It’s a perfect, almost-effortless way to touch your toes back into the waters of nightly prayer.
*While the book was free, the decision to review was my own. Many thanks to John-Paul and Annie Deddens for the book and the service they provide through praymorenovenas.com. You can buy the book here on Amazon for only $.99!