Prayer – Some Baha’i Writings

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(All passages taken from the compilation of Baha’i writings called Prayer and Devotional Life, except where noted. Here are some Baha’i Prayers.)

Know thou, verily, it is becoming in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.

(Report of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 93)

What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us

if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Bahá’u’lláh to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will-power in mastering ourselves.

(From a letter dated 27 January 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

The Twin Luminaries of this resplendent age have taught us this: Prayer is the essential spiritual conversation of the soul with its Maker, direct and without intermediation. It is the spiritual food that sustains the life of the spirit. Like the morning’s dew, it brings freshness to the heart and cleanses it, purifying it from attachments of the insistent self. It is a fire that burns away the veils and a light that leads to the ocean of reunion with the Almighty. On its wings does the soul soar in the heavens of God and draw closer to the divine reality. Upon its quality depends the development of the limitless capacities of the soul and the attraction of the bounties of God, but the prolongation of prayer is not desirable.

(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 18 December 2014 to the Bahá’ís in Iran)

It behoveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord will decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet—translated from the Arabic)

The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 2009), no. 172)

The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God.

(The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 78)

Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Read ye the sacred verses in such measure that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency. Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend. (Baha’u’llah, Kitabi-Aqdas)

When we turn to God with our whole heart and invoke His Name, a spiritual connection is established through which we become a channel of divine influence.

(From a letter dated 19 October 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved.

(The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 93–94)

As for devotions other than obligatory prayer, if these be chanted jointly and with a pleasant and affecting melody, this would be most acceptable.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet—translated from the Persian)

The simplicity characterizing the offering of Bahá’í prayers, whether obligatory or otherwise, should be maintained. Rigidity and rituals should be strictly avoided.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 October 1936 written on his behalf to an individual believer)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá once said: “The worshipper must pray with a detached spirit, unconditional surrender of the will, concentrated attention and spiritual fervour…. Automatic, formal prayers which do not touch the core of the heart are of no avail.”

(From a letter dated 19 October 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven…. When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him…. The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.

(Report of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, pp. 94–95)

The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfil his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.

(From a letter dated 26 October 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

Daily prayers—with the exception of the specific obligatory prayers such as the “Namáz”—can be recited in any fashion or manner which the believer chooses. Uniformity in the case of such prayers should under no circumstances be imposed upon the friends. The worshipper should be left entirely free to pray as he wishes.

(From a letter dated 6 July 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

He feels more emphasis should be laid on the importance and power of prayer, including the use of The Greatest Name, but not over-emphasizing it. It is the spirit behind the words which is really important.

(From a letter dated 16 March 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

The powers latent in prayer are manifested when it is motivated by the love of God, beyond any fear or favour, and free from ostentation and superstition. It is to be expressed with a sincere and pure heart conducive to contemplation and meditation so that the rational faculty can be illumined by its effects. Such prayer will transcend the limitation of words and go well beyond mere sounds. The sweetness of its melodies must gladden and uplift the heart and reinforce the penetrating power of the Word, transmuting earthly inclinations into heavenly attributes and inspiring selfless service to humankind.

(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 18 December 2014 to the Bahá’ís in Iran)

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