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Abstract:
Pilgrims note from the words of Shoghi Effendi about "five steps" for prayer and action (from 1954), followed by explanatory notes from the Universal House of Justice (from 1978).

Dynamics of Prayer

by Ruth Moffett

1973

1. From Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 90-91

While in Haifa, the beloved Guardian of the Cause gave to the writer (Mrs Ruth Moffet), the most concise, complete, and effective formula she has ever seen, for the Dynamics of Prayer. After saying to stress the need of more prayers and meditation among the friends, he said to use these five steps if we had a problem of any kind for which we desired a solution or wished help.

First Step – Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of contemplation for a few minutes.

Second Step – Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment but if it seems to be as answer to a prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.

Third Step – Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.

Fourth Step – Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the fifth step.

Fifth Step – Then, he said, lastly, ACT; Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you.

Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need. But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered? How true are those words-"Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered" and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out.

The above statement belongs properly to the class of statement known as "pilgrim's notes" and as such has no authority but, since it seems to be particularly helpful and clear, it was felt that believers should not be deprived of it.

2. From Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986, pp. 384-385

From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í, 11 October 1978:

… You mention that the answers to your prayers never seem to have come through clearly. Mrs Ruth Moffett has published her recollection of five steps of prayer for guidance that she was told by the beloved Guardian. When asked about these notes, Shoghi Effendi replied, in letters written by his secretary on his behalf, that the notes should be regarded as "Personal suggestions," that he considered them to be "quite sound," but that the friends need not adopt them "strictly and universally."[1] The House of Justice feels that they may be helpful to you and, indeed, you may already be familiar with them. They are as follows:

. . . use these five steps if we have a problem of any kind for which we desire a solution, or wish help.

  1. Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations, as they have the greatest power. Learn to remain in the silence of contemplation for a few moments. During this deepest communion take the next step.

  2. Arrive at a decision and hold to this. This decision is usually born in a flash at the close or during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment, but if it seems to be an answer to prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.

  3. Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.

  4. Have faith and confidence, that the Power of the Holy Spirit will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to meet your need. Then as you rise from prayer take immediately the fifth step.

  5. Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And, as you act, you yourself will become a magnet which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine Power to flow through you.[2]

Also the Guardian's secretary wrote to an individual believer on his behalf: "The Master said guidance was when the doors opened after we tried. We can pray, ask to do God's will only, try hard, and then if we find our plan is not working out, assume it is not the right one, at least for the moment."[3]

  1. Letter dated 30 June 1938 to Wilfrid Barton, in BN, no. 134 (March 1940): 2; letter dated 29 October 1952 to an individual, quoted in Moffett, Du’á, p. 27n.
  2. Moffett, Du’á, pp. 27-28.
  3. Letter dated 29 October 1952 to an individual, quoted in Moffett, Du’á, p. 27n.
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