Prayer


Table of Contents:

Prolog: Some Thoughts on Prayer and Meditation

      The author's personal experience about prayer.

Obligatory Prayer: Medium (of three prayers that may be chosen between)

Ahmad: A Special Tablet.

      Shoghi Effendi said: "...the Tablet of Ahmad, have been invested by Bahá'u'lláh with a special potency and significance, and should therefore be accepted as such and be recited by the believers with unquestioning faith and confidence, that through them they may enter into a much closer communion with God, and identify themselves more fully with His laws and precepts." (Compilations, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 208)
      .

Perspicuous Verses: of Bahá'u'lláh

      Bahá'u'lláh says in the verses:

      "Blessed art thou,
      who hast fixed thy gaze upon Me,
      for this Tablet which hath been sent down for thee -
      a Tablet which causeth the souls of men to soar.

      Commit it to memory,
      and recite it.
      By My Life!
      It is a door to the mercy of thy Lord.
      Well is it with him that reciteth it
      at eventide and at dawn.

Fire Tablet: of Bahá'u'lláh

      Bahá'u'lláh says in the verses:

      "Should all the servants read and ponder this,
      there shall be kindled in their veins a fire that shall set aflame the worlds."

Holy Mariner: of Bahá'u'lláh

      "Study the Tablet of the Holy Mariner that ye may know the truth,
      and consider that the Blessed Beauty hath fully foretold future events.
      Let them who perceive, take warning!"

      -- 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Chant: of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

      I had heard the recording a number of decades ago-
      and then again at the Bahá'í World Congress in New York City in 1992
      where I became acquainted with Harjot Sidu and Vido Ighani
      who provided me with the translation that I first published here,
      my not being aware of any other.

      I have now received from Bob Haugen a translation that appeared in The Bahá'í World, 1936-1938, Volume 7, page 421. The above now largely follows that translation.


Trouble: Prayers for Time of Trouble

      These prayers have been particularly selected
      for this web site whose purpose is the amelioration of the troubles
      of the Great Catastrophe.

Health: Baha’u’llah’s Tablet to a Physician

      This is some practical guidance regarding health practices.


YA BAHA'U'L-ABHA: Oh Thou Glory of the Most Glorious!

      This is an explanation about The Greatest Name.


Click here to return to the
top of this
Table of Contents


Some Thoughts on Prayer and Meditation

These are simply some random thoughts on the subject of prayer and meditation. There are numbers of Bahá'í books on the subject and it is not my intention to recap anything printed there.

There are few Bahá'í books on the "method" of meditation and although I have taught the subject for several decades I am not prepared to formally make a presentation at this time. There are numerous methods, and Bahá'ís are free to choose such as is suitable to them, but they are REQUIRED by Bahá'u'lláh to meditate.

For many years I have had in abeyance a project to correlate the ancient Aphorisms of Pantanjali (one of the best known guides in Hindu literature on the subject of meditation) to statements on the subject in the Bahá'í Teachings. In this regards there is a surprising wealth of material, in the Bahá'í Writings, as how to sit, focus one's mind, and other such disciplines. To this end, I have made notes of comparison with several versions of Pantanjali translations, including a literal one, (since I do not read Sanskrit) but with Shoghi Effendi's proscription of teaching meditation in Summer Schools, I have not given a high priority to the project.

There is considerable confusion in the minds of many people about the distinctions between prayer and meditation. Recitation, Intonation and Chanting are important and will undoubtedly play a much more prominent role in Bahá'í culture in the future. All of us pray, or should pray, but in the Western world - few of us chant. Chanting is to prayer like singing is to talking. Even someone, such as myself, whom everyone announces to be tone (or at least tune) deaf, can but wonder at the capacity of a trained opera singer to overwhelm the combined efforts of an entire church congregation. I have heard beautiful chanting of Bahá'í' prayers in English, but it is a rarity. A mere cultural quirk bceause there is nothing specific about the Persian or Arabic languages that makes chanting only possible in those languages.

Also in the Western world, few people meditate. It is more difficult to describe the relationship of meditation to prayer. It is a capability of the human spirit on up the ladder from concentration and contemplation. It passes beyond the murmuring of sound and symbol although we can be led into the ecstasy of it by revealed meditations. As an analogy, let me say that while we all use math and numbers to some extent we can but vaguely guess at the capacities of theoretical mathematicians. There are many other examples of the distinctions between the accomplishments of the trained versus the untrained in areas such as acrobatics, ice skating, dance, sports and other fields of endeavor. What then would lead one to think that all people can pray or meditate equally well without training when few have even stopped to ponder the distinctions between concentration, contemplation and meditation.

Undeniably, quality of prayer is affected by, among other things, purity of heart. But this is a chicken and egg matter. One leads to the other. No matter how inadequate one feels - they must begin to pray. Indeed, prayer may well (and most surely will) reveal to them even much greater inadequacies than they ever imagined. Still it remains the only path to salvation, no matter the type of one's soul, and whatever paths of Truth they trod (matters which I deal with in the POP series).

Many in the Western World are in non-praying societies and the practice and habit of prayer will be very strange to them. Some new Bahá'ís find the requirement of even a daily obligatory prayer requiring a discipline that they are not used to. The further discovery that Bahá'ís are supposed to also pray both in the morning and evening and to repeat 95 times the Greatest Name (a step towards meditation) is best left to their progressive spiritual development.

Some like myself, (and I share this with you, only so that you may know the variety of Bahá'í life) after decades fall into a pattern of almost perpetual prayer. Indeed, I would say that the goal is to have one's every thought focused on Bahá'u'lláh. To have one's every motivation to be the motivation of Bahá'u'lláh. Prayer is the path.

Oftentimes in life, tests and difficulties are the motivation to pray. A prayer often learned early on by new Bahá'ís and Bahá'í children is the Bab's Remover of Difficulties. That prayer also, some come to a convention or practice of repeating nine, nineteen or ninety-five times, in times of exceptional challenge. A personal choice of mine was to repeat the Tablet of Ahmad nineteen times daily. Indeed, for many years, in addition to the Fast prayers, I would say it nineteen times each day for the nineteen days of the Fast. Each one must find their own discipline and it is well to remember that Bahá'u'lláh CAUTIONS about being given to long prayers.

It is amazing, in a lifetime, how the prayers will add up. How easy and joyful it becomes. That indeed, the most joyful hours of the day become those spent in prayer and meditation. As one progresses along the path of prayer they come to learn that Bahá'u'lláh has recommended a number for special situations and occasions. I won't go into those now, but one will eventually come to the Perspicuous Verses, which Bahá'u'lláh recommends (does not require) that one say every "eventide" and "morn". Add to these 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Daily Regional Prayers for teaching, and suggested daily prayers for one's loved ones, and one can have a very full prayer schedule. However, to say daily the short noonday prayer sometime between noon and sunset, along with the 95 repetitions of The Greatest Name (for this some use a rosary) and to say with absolute sincerity The Greatest Name in the morn and evening, fulfills the requirement of God. God does not need our prayers. We pray to benefit ourselves, not God.

A simple repetition of the Greatest Name ninety-five times a day, will add up in a half century of devotion to the Faith, of one having said it over fifteen million times. In actuality, one who is that devoted will find themselves saying it many more times a day than that, and the lifetime multiple will be much greater. A simple saying of the Tablet of Ahmad, at least once a day for the last 30 years of their life will result in their having said it over ten thousand times. Those who recite it that regularly ("withhold not thyself therefrom") will again find that they have actually recited it much more often, and consequently many more times than that.

Yes, over the years, the prayers add up, and as Bahá'u'lláh says - think not that they do not have effect. We are more blessed by our own, and other's prayers, than we can imagine. Today, we live in a non-praying world, and this presentation will seem very strange to many people, but in the future when Bahá'ís gather daily in their communities for prayers and the meaning of meditation becomes better understood, then it will become more meaningful and, indeed, commonplace.

Click here to return to the
top of this
Table of Contents