In praise of prayer

By Gordy Arlin, a Bahá’í of Mukilteo | Mar 06, 2013

“The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence… a presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol.” (All quotes are from the Bahá’í Writings.)

I would like to know my Creator and attain His Presence, who wouldn’t? How do I best do this?

“Turn to God, supplicate humbly at his threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision. Then will your eyes be filled with illumination, face to face you will behold the reality of God and your heart become completely purified from the dross of ignorance.”

“Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee… that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul.”

Prayer is mandatory for Bahá’ís. Bahá’u’lláh revealed three obligatory prayers; every day we must select one of them and offer it. (God is kind here, letting us choose from prayers basically short, medium or long). Here is the one that I most often choose:

“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.”

This prayer is said at the middle of the day by millions of Bahá’ís around the world. Why?

“Obligatory prayer causeth the heart to become attentive to the Divine Kingdom. One is alone with God, converseth with Him, and acquireth bounties… and thus will come to witness the power of entreaty and supplication.”

“Obligatory prayer and supplication cause man to reach the kingdom of mystery, and the worship of the Supreme One… Every joy is earthly save this one, the sweetness of which is divine.”

“The wisdom of Obligatory Prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because at that time man with all his heart and soul turneth his face toward the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion… Besides all this, prayer… is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and is conducive to protection and preservation from tests.”

“These verses draw hearts that are pure unto those spiritual worlds that can neither be expressed in words nor intimated by allusion. Blessed be those who hearken.”

In Bahá’í Scripture, sometimes God addresses us in the first person:

“O Son of Light! Forget all save Me and commune with My Spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it.”

“Immerse yourself in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.”

In closing, I love this guidance from the Bahá’í Writings:

“O thou who art turning thy face toward God! Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the realm of the All-Glorious. Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone. With a look He granteth a hundred thousand hopes, with a glance he healeth a hundred thousand incurable ills, with a nod He layeth balm on every wound, with a glimpse he freeth the hearts from the shackles of grief.

“He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord.”

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