Some swear by the power of prayer; others reject it as magical thinking. For Baha’is, prayer is the glue that cements their loving communion with God.
prayer does that.The core of religious faith, the Baha’i writings say, “is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.” Done in the right spirit,
“In the highest prayer,” says Abdu’l-Baha, “men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven . . . The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.”
Baha’i laws instruct members of the Faith to recite one of the three daily obligatory prayers revealed by Baha’u'llah and to recite “Allah-u-Abha,” meaning “God is Most Glorious,” 95 times each day. Baha’is sometimes use prayer beads when reciting the verse.
The short obligatory prayer, which is to be recited once in 24 hours between noon and sunset, is thus:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Aside from these simple prescriptions, Baha’i prayer “should be free of ritualism, rigidity and pageantry,” says Pamela Brode, who wrote The Power of Prayer: Make a Joyful Noise. “As the Bab said, ‘The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance.’”
Baha’u’llah teaches that it is not the length of time one prays that is important, but that the prayer come from a purity of motive — that is, individuals should “talk to God in a loving spirit when they pray,” says Ms. Brode.
Although Baha’is are free to offer prayers spontaneously from the heart, most believers, Ms. Brode says, find a “special potency in reading, reciting, chanting or singing the prayers and verses found in Baha’i scripture.”
Baha’is keep the book Baha’i Prayers close at hand. This collection, revealed by Baha’u'llah, the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha, includes the obligatory prayers, and other prayers arranged by category, for the sake of convenience. Categories include aid and assistance, children, the departed, forgiveness, nearness to God, spiritual growth and steadfastness.
Readers may also be interested in two newly published books: Meditations: Selections from Baha’i Scripture is a collection of passages that helps to encourage and support the habit of regular reflection and meditation, and assists readers of any faith on their spiritual path. Illumine My Heart: Baha’i Prayers for Every Occasion features prayers by Baha’u'llah, the Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha.
Baha’is also may use prayers and verses from the sacred texts of other religions, which they commonly do at prayer gatherings, or devotionals.
In the Baha’i Faith, service to humanity is considered a form of worship. As Abdu’l-Baha says, “. . . all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.”
Prayers are just one aspect of Baha’i life. Indeed, the writings caution us to “Take heed lest excessive reading and too many acts of piety in the daytime and in the night season make you vainglorious.”
But also consider this quote of Abdu’l-Baha: “When I am sad, I always pray.”
- Baha’i Reference Library – Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha
- Baha’i Topics – Prayer
- Dan Jones discusses the Baha’i concept of laws, such as daily prayer, in his Doberman Pizza blog
- Visit Divine Notes for downloadable Baha’i-inspired music, some of which includes Baha’i prayers set to music in various styles, such as:
Elika Ehsani Mahony’s “Melodies of the Nightingale for the Family”
Roya Bauman’s “Love Setteth the World Aflame”
Nancy Ward’s “Melodies from the Sacred Writings of Baha’u'llah and Abdu’l-Baha”
and Persian Chanting on Jena Taghvai’s “Prayers for Family” and Badi Yazdi’s “Baha’i Prayers“