The Baha’i teachings call upon us all to pray every day. That spiritual communion with God attracts love, trust, and the realization of our dependence upon Him for all things.
We human beings often face tests and difficulties in life and find ourselves in need of assistance. Sincere prayer appeals to God for help with those tests and difficulties, and the Baha’i writings assure us that God answers those prayers, like all prayers offered with true love and sincerity.
Baha’is also supplicate God for spiritual growth—but prayer doesn’t simply ask God to do things for us. In its highest form it is a communion born of pure love, without desire for anything but nearness to God. Indeed, we may, full of faith and trust in God, ask only to be content with God’s will, and give thanks and praise to Him. In The Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah teaches that our relationship to God should be such that we desire for ourselves only what God wants, because this is what is best for us:
O Son of Spirit! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself. – p. 8.
Prayer has a profound effect. No matter what we pray for, the very act of communion has an influence upon the individual soul. Prayer helps to make a person more and more spiritual and steadfast in God’s love. Prayer also has an effect beyond the individual. The following statement by Baha’u’llah affirms both points:
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. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 295.
The Bab, Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha all revealed beautiful, poetic prayers that Baha’is recite. These prayers number in the hundreds. Even though Baha’is also pray in their own words, the revealed prayers, because they are the Word of God, have a special spiritual power. They have added value because they show us how we should address God, and indicate the kinds of things for which we should pray. In these respects they are similar to the Lord’s Prayer revealed by Jesus Christ. Here are some prayers of Baha’u’llah:
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 203.
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 aid me to turn towards 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 ·owed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful. – Ibid., p. 18.
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. – Ibid., p. 19.
Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Ibid., p. 86.