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Editor: Dianne Bradford, 5384 Tansas Ln., Hilliard, OH 43026

Vol. 1, No. 11

     Topic: The Importance of Prayer                       Page 1
      This newsletter is dedicated to all seekers after the Eternal Truth.

. . .in all Dispensations the law of prayer hath constituted a fundamental element of the Revelation of all the Prophets of God--a law the form and manner of which hath been adapted to the varying requirements of every age.1

           As stated clearly above, every religion teaches the importance of communicating with God through prayer. The Bahá'í Faith also stresses the importance of prayer as demonstrated in the following quote by its Founder on not only the importance, but also on the effects of prayer:
               Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its
effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.2

           What, after all, can be more important, appropriate and even beneficial than making mention of, praising and glorifying God, our Creator and the Source of our being? In addition, as the following verse reveals, it is not only we who benefit and are "blessed". Prayer is pretty powerful stuff indeed.
     Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified. 3      --Bahá'u'lláh

           The following quotes from the Bahá'í writings explain not only what prayer is, but also enlightens us on the "language" of prayer, the spiritual condition we should strive to attain while trying to communicate with God and His Manifestations through prayer, and the importance of worshipping God through His Manifestations, Who are the Intermediators sent by God to guide and educate us, and to make Himself and His Will known to us:
           Prayer is conversation with God. In order that God may make known His mind and will to men, He must speak to them in a language which they can understand, and this He does by the mouths of His Holy Prophets. While these Prophets are alive in the body they speak with men face to face and convey to them the Message of God, and after Their death Their message continues to reach men's minds through Their recorded sayings and writings. But this is not the only way in which God can speak with men. There is a "language of the Spirit," which is independent of speech or writing, by which God can commune with and inspire those whose hearts are seeking after truth, wherever they are, and whatever their native race or tongue. By this language the Manifestation continues to hold converse with the faithful after His departure from the material world. Christ continued to converse with and inspire His disciples after His crucifixion. In fact He influenced them more powerfully than before; and with other Prophets it has been the same.4      --'Abdu'l-Bahá

            We should speak in the language of heaven--in the language of the spirit--for there is a language of the spirit and heart. It is as different from our language as our own language is different from that of the animals, who expess themselves only by cries and sounds.
                It is the language of the spirit which speaks to God. When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice of God. Without words we speak, we communicate, we converse with God and hear the answer . . . All of us, when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the voice of God. . ..
                . . . We must strive to attain to that condition by being separated from all things and from the people of the world and by turning to God alone. It will take some effort on the part of man to attain to that condition, but he must work for it, strive for it. We can attain to it by thinking and caring less for material things and more for the spiritual. The further we go from the one, the nearer we are to the other. The choice is ours.
           Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of God's spirit in everything. Everything can reflect to us the light of the Spirit.5      --'Abdu'l-Bahá

           If we wish to pray, we must have some object on which to concentrate. If we turn to God, we must direct our hearts to a certain center. If man worships God otherwise than through His Manifestation, he must first form a conception of God, and that conception is created by his own mind. As the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite, so God is not to be comprehended in this fashion. That which man conceives with his own mind he comprehends. That which he can comprehend is not God. That conception of God which a man forms for himself is but a phantasm, an image, an imagination, an allusion. There is no connection between such a conception and the Supreme Being.
               If a man wishes to know God, he must find Him in the perfect mirror, Christ or Bahá'u'lláh. In either of these mirrors he will see reflected the Sun of Divinity.
               As we know the physical sun by its splendor, by its light and heat, so we know God, the Spiritual Sun, when He shines forth from the temple of Manifestation, by His attributes of perfection, by the beauty of His qualities and by the splendor of His light6      --'Abdu'l-Bahá

            Say: Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self, and purify them from all attachment to anything besides Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it. Say: Were all created things to be entirely divested of the veil of worldly vanity and desire, the Hand of God would in this Day clothe them, one and all, with the robe of,"He doeth whatsoever He willeth in the kingdom of creation," that thereby the sign of His sovereignty might be manifested in all things. Exalted then be He, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Almighty, the Supreme Protector, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.7

           Unlock, O people, the gates of the hearts of men with the keys of the remembrance of Him Who is the Remembrance of God and the Source of wisdom amongst you. He hath chosen out of the whole world the hearts of His servants, and made them each a seat for the revelation of His glory. Wherefore, sanctify them from every defilement, that the things for which they were created may be engraven upon them. This indeed is a token of God's bountiful favor.8

           At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and, with all his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.9

           Finally, I think a couple of prayers revealed for us by God's Manifestation and Messenger for this day would be appropriate to close this issue on this very important topic of prayer.

                     My God, my Adored One, my King, my Desire! What tongue can voice my thanks to thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously enable me to turn toward Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance
which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.
                O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity.10 --Bahá'u'lláh

               Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquility on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!11 --Bahá'u'lláh
1 Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqán p. 39.
2 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 295.
3 Bahá'í Prayers, 1982 Edition, p. iii.
4 quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, J. E. Esselmont, p. 99.
5 from a talk reported by Miss Ethel J. Rosenberg, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, J. E.
      Esselmont, pp 99-100.
6from a talk to Mr. Percy Woodcock, at 'Akká, 1909, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, J. E.
      Esselmont, pp. 101-102.
7 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 294-295.
8 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp 296-297.
9 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 265.
10 Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 Edition., pp. 19-20.
11 Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 Edition, pp. 142-143.
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