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Prayer: the pinnacle of faith, Baha’i style

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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.

The core of religious faith, the Baha’i writings say, “is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.” Done in the right spirit, prayer does that.

“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.

There is also a medium and a long obligatory prayer.

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.”

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7 Responses

  1. EllenWP

    I searched on Google and found Nancy Ward’s CD on http://www.liveunity.com. (Go to “Storefront” and I think her CD is on the 3rd page of music.)

    The “CD Baby” website carries Elika Mahony’s CD: http://cdbaby.com/cd/elikaehsani2 but “Melodies of the Nightingale for the Family” is currently out-of-stock but another of her CDs is available. (I guess downloading music is the popular way to buy music now-a-days.)

    FYI – the U.S. Baha’i Distribution Service carries a lot of music by Baha’i musicians: http://www.bahaibookstore.com (Go to “Music and Audio” from the homepage.) There’s a lot to choose from — Enjoy!

  2. EllenWP

    Dear Mr. Zembruski, I’m so pleased to hear of your interest in the Baha’i Faith. You asked about obtaining a Baha’i prayer book and the U.S. Baha’i Distribution Service has Baha’i prayer books available here: http://www.bahaibookstore.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=4557. You can also visit your local bookstore and ask them to order one.  I wish you all the best!

  3. jane njeri

    am a baha`i born and living in Kenya.i visit the baha`i site often to see what i would see if i was a seeker. I get insipiration and i grow stronger day by day.I love the prayer edition.I live in a christian Community and i need Prayer to be able to live a Bahai way of life.

  4. Kathy Gilman

    How can I order Nancy Ward’s CD and Elika Ehsani Mahony’s CD without having to download them?

    Thank you.

    Kathy Gilman

  5. Louis M Zembruski Sr.

    As a octogenerian Roman Catholic I am intrigued by the concept of the Baha’i Faith and its relationship with Catholicism.
    Also where can I secure a Baha’i Prayer Book?

    Thank you,

  6. Cheryl

    I hope you can help me find my way back to the music video called "armed". I found it the other day as I was browsing and didn’t write down the artists name. It was beautiful and I’d like to get the cd.I hope this enough info. I know it was from a prayer but I can’t remember it exactly, I think it starts " Armed with the power of Thy Name" The artist plays the piano. The video had various people in despairing times of their lives who were then uplifted. Thankyou for any help. Cheryl

  7. ellen

    Hi Cheryl,
    The music video you are referring to can be found on this page: http://bahai.us/music-video. Enjoy!