There is this sweetness of prayer. The sweetness of surrender to One who is so far exalted above us and who loves us so truly, so completely—in a way that we can never really love ourselves or one another. In His tablet to the Shah of Iran, Násiri’d-Din Sháh, Bahá’u’lláh explains to Him—a human being who caused so much pain and anguish, who was responsible for the torture and mass killings of thousands of early believers in Iran—to this person, Bahá’u’lláh says:
“They that surround thee love thee for their own sakes, whereas this Youth loveth thee for thine own sake, and hath had no desire except to draw thee nigh unto the seat of grace, and to turn thee toward the right-hand of justice.”
But He also explains that in order for His love to reach us, we must love Him.
“Love me that I may love thee; if thou lovest Me not My love can in no wise reach thee.”
Prayer is an instrument we use to express our love for God and to deepen that love; to open ourselves to the grace and bounty that is continually flowing towards us. Tyrant or saint; king or pauper. One and all, He loves.
Marzieh Gail offers the following on the absurdity of asking why we must pray to God in order to grow near to Him:
And yet people inquire why they should pray, why God does not come to them — remarks as logical as sitting in a darkened room and wondering why all the sweep and glitter of the summer sunlight does not penetrate.
She also remarks that:
It is not surprising that a prayerless people are driven to drugs and stimulants and a hundred forms of useless activity. They have no antidote for life, and no effective means of achieving the ‘respite and nepenthe’ for which they long. It is not surprising that people cheat one another, desert one another, kill one another, because only universal prayer can make the world safe for us to live in.
Embedded in the act of prayer is also the feeling of ecstasy; the ecstasy of divine communion with the Source of our beings, with the Breath that animates our mortal frames.
“Reveal then Thyself, O Lord, by Thy merciful utterance and the mystery of Thy divine being, that the holy ecstasy of prayer may fill our souls – a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds – that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of Thy splendor.”
Compilations, Baha’i Prayers
Though there is much more that could be said on prayer, a final point that I feel must be included is that of cleansing our hearts. Benjamin Franklin apparently kept a notebook with all his sins in it, but Confucius said, ‘I can do as my heart lusteth and never swerve from right’. The more we pray, the more we align our will to the Divine; the more we polish the rust from off our hearts and allow our desires to be such as will lead us to joy, to well-being — to God.
Amir Haghighi is well known for his powerful renderings of traditional Persian songs and his exquisite chanting of persian Bahá'í prayers.
Singer/Songwriter Munirih Sparrow performing a live recording of her song "Mighty Sea" on the summit of Mt. Doug, Victoria BC.
A beautiful song performed and composed by Luke Slott based on Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh.
The prayerful condition is the best of all conditions, for man in such a state communeth with God, especially when prayer is offered in private and at times when one's mind is free, such as at midnight.
Greatly-loved and deeply-admired by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, a shining example to pioneers of present and future generations of East and West, surpassed in constancy, dedication, self-abnegation and fearlessness by none except the incomparable Martha Root
We render thanks unto God for whatsoever hath befallen Us, and We patiently endure the things He hath ordained in the past or will ordain in the future. In Him have I placed My trust...