St. Andrew's Advent Novena

Not too long ago a friend of mine invited me to be a member of a private facebook group for Catholic women dealing with infertility. I'm Protestant, but was warmly welcomed under the big umbrella of the Christian faith. Around Thanksgiving, one of the women in the group posted a prayer on the board called St. Andrew's novena. I had to do a little googling to figure out what a "novena" was, but it turned out it is simply a specific prayer prayed over a certain length of time- usually nine but sometimes more- days.

St. Andrew's Novena is an Advent prayer, prayed from November 30 through December 24. It is supposed to be prayed 15 times each day; I've been averaging 6-10, but even falling short, the practice has brought me great peace this advent.
Note: Since I'm Protestant, I leave off the "and of his Blessed Mother" line when I pray.
We Protestants focus on the fact that grace is given to us freely. We reject a merit based system. We believe that God's salvation is a gift; we don't do anything to earn it and we can't do anything to loose it. I love that and I believe it with my whole heart. However, what I've remembered 10 days into praying this prayer is that while all God's good gifts are given freely to me, they aren't actually free. They were secured on the merits of Jesus, on the merits of his birth, life, death, and resurrection.

That's what I love about this prayer. Where my prayers have mostly been asking for my desires based on.... well, mostly based on just the fact that I want them, I'm now asking for them based on the merits of Christ, which are applied to me in my salvation. 

I know I don't deserve any of God's good gifts. Asking God for anything based on my merits is useless.  I've asked for a pregnancy with a dozen different reasons: because my heart longs for it, because I've dreamed of it, because God put this desire in my heart, because that's what women are supposed to be build for, because life is so good and God loves new life, because having that experience would allow me to relate and minster to so many more women.... I've both prayed myself and had others pray for me that God would "make his glory known" by granting me a pregnancy. Lately I've been less and less convinced of those prayers. 

God doesn't need me to convince him of why it would be such a good idea to grant me my desire. He doesn't need to make his glory known by granting me anything. His glory has already been made known in Christ! Surely he knows best how to display his splendor. I've stopped trying to convince him with reasons why he should grant me my desires and instead, I've begun asking for them on the merits of Jesus Christ. 

I can remember my Sunday School teachers telling my little girl self that when God looks at me, he doesn't see me and all my sin; he sees Jesus and his perfection. That's the idea I'm learning again in a deeper way. If God grants me any good gifts it is because those gifts were secured for me in Christ. 

"...and grant me my desires through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ." 

Why should I boldly ask God to grant me my desire? Because he humbled himself to be born in a manger, to live faultlessly on earth, to suffer, to subject himself to death on a cross, and to rise again, securing our abundant and eternal life for his own glory. Through those merits I am asking for the desires of my heart. 

As I walk though Advent this year, the image of baby Jesus in a manger has become so much more powerful. His birth- the astonishingly humble entrance of our Almighty God into the world- is one of the merits through which my salvation and my ability to ask God for my desires was secured. 

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16. 

I am both humbled and emboldened by this prayer.

Though I deserve nothing, I am able to ask for everything, and receive with gratitude anything God grants me on the merits of Christ.

I've found great peace in that.



  1. Another absolutely wonderful post, Jillian. Thank you so much for sharing. You say so well what is in the hearts of so many - you are a blessing!

    1. It is always the best thing to hear that my experience helps others name their own. Thank you so much!

  2. Needed this today. So much. Thank you.

  3. Love reading your posts - great perspective in this one! Praying for you!

    1. Thank you and thank you for your prayers! Keep 'em coming!

  4. What an absolutely gorgeous post, Jill. I loved it. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging comment! I'm so glad you liked it! :-)

  5. Amen!! That's rest!! And it brings peace when you enter it!! He's got this!! Promise!!!!!!!

  6. Amen!! That's rest!! And it brings peace when you enter it!! He's got this!! Promise!!!!!!!


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