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Abdu’l-Baha’s Prayers for the Unitarians

David Langness | Apr 6, 2017

PART 8 IN SERIES Unity Unitarians and Baha'is

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Apr 6, 2017

PART 8 IN SERIES Unity Unitarians and Baha'is

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

On the day he spoke to the Unitarians in Brooklyn, Abdu’l-Baha did something remarkable: he gave them two Baha’i prayers, still in use around the world today.

At the end of his historic talk on true unity, delivered on Sunday, June 16, 1912, Abdu’l-Baha spontaneously revealed a new prayer for the Unitarians. It asks God to “make them signs of unity” so that “the real unity may appear and all may become one:”

O my God! O my God! Verily, these are servants at the threshold of Thy mercy, and maidservants at the door of Thy oneness. Verily, they have gathered in this temple to turn to Thy face of glory, holding to the hem of Thy garment and to Thy singleness, seeking Thy good pleasure and ascent into Thy Kingdom. They receive effulgence from the Sun of Reality in this glorious century, and they long for Thy goodwill in all great affairs. O Lord! Illumine their sight with a vision of Thy signs and riches, and quicken their ears with hearkening to Thy Word. Render their hearts replete with Thy love, and gladden their spirits with Thy meeting. Deign to bestow upon them spiritual good in Thine earth and heaven, and make them signs of unity among Thy servants in order that the real unity may appear and all may become one in Thy Cause and Kingdom. Verily, Thou art the Generous. Verily, Thou art the Mighty, the Spiritual. Thou art the Merciful, the Clement. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 193.

Concluding with this stirring spiritual call, Abdu’l-Baha stepped down from the altar at the Brooklyn Unitarian Church and shook the hands of the hundreds of people who had come to hear him speak. Surrounded by admirers and well-wishers, he slowly made his way to the church’s Sunday School to say a few loving words about the acquisition of spiritual virtues to the children and their teachers:

I am glad to see these bright, radiant children. God willing, all of them may realize the hopes and aspirations of their parents.

Praise be to God! I see before me these beautiful children of the Kingdom. Their hearts are pure, their faces are shining. They shall soon become the sons and daughters of the Kingdom. Thanks be to God! They are seeking to acquire virtues and will be the cause of the attainment of the excellences of humanity. This is the cause of oneness in the Kingdom of God. Praise be to God! They have kind and revered teachers who train and educate them well and who long for confirmation in order that, God willing, like tender plants in the garden of God they may be refreshed by the downpour of the clouds of mercy, grow and become verdant. In the utmost perfection and delicacy may they at last bring forth fruit.

I supplicate God that these children may be reared under His protection and that they may be nourished by His favor and grace until all, like beautiful flowers in the garden of human hopes and aspirations, shall blossom and become redolent of fragrance. – Ibid., pp. 193-194.

Abdu’l-Baha particularly loved children, and children seemed to sense something in Abdu’l-Baha that drew them to him like metal to a magnet. Many of the photos of Abdu’l-Baha taken during his trip to North America show him literally enveloped in a sea of small children, often smiling and laughing. He gave many of his talks with children at his side, his arm around them in a grandfatherly way.

He typically gave advice about child-rearing to their parents, as well:

Give this child a good education; make every effort that it may have the best you can afford, so that it may be enabled to enjoy the advantage of this glorious age. Do all you can to encourage spirituality in them. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 111.

In the Unitarian Sunday School on that June day, Abdu’l-Baha revealed another new prayer, this one now in wide use by Baha’is and others worldwide, and repeated millions of times everywhere around the globe:

O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 194.

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Comments

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  • Keith Taylor
    Apr 7, 2017
    -
    David, as a “born Unitarian-Universalist”, now a confirmed Bahá’i after a long, slow journey out of agnosticism, I have found this series resonating with me like a bell – especially your commemoration of the brave life of the Unitarian martyr Michael Servetus and your tale of the two prayers revealed expressly for the Unitarians by ‘Abdu’l Bahá, of which I was not until this moment aware. This calls to mind the experience of former Unitarian minister Howard Colby Ives, who on meeting ‘Abdu’l Bahá in 1912 felt that this was the first time anyone had truly seen him, deep down. ...I feel, similarly, that this Faith has reunited me with my deepest self in service to the maturation of the human race.
    Read more...
  • Keith Taylor
    Apr 7, 2017
    -
    David, as a “born Unitarian-Universalist”, now a confirmed Bahá’i after a long, slow journey out of agnosticism, I have found this series resonating with me like a bell – especially your commemoration of the brave life of the Unitarian martyr Michael Servetus and your tale of the two prayers revealed expressly for the Unitarians by ‘Abdu’l Bahá, of which I was not until this moment aware. This calls to mind the experience of former Unitarian minister Howard Colby Ives, who on meeting ‘Abdu’l Bahá in 1912 felt that this was the first time anyone had truly seen him, deep down. ...I feel, similarly, that this Faith has reunited me with my deepest self in service to the maturation of the human race.
    Read more...
    • Gail Radley
      May 4, 2017
      -
      I'm a UU-raised Baha'i, too! I wonder how many of us there are...it's hard to imagine today's UUs offering up these prayers. :)
  • Simin Shams
    Apr 6, 2017
    -
    can never thank you enough....
    you guys are a great source of knowledge, courage and love, Thank you again and again
  • Melanie Black
    Apr 6, 2017
    -
    Just beautiful, David. I'm learning so much from this heartfelt series. In Provincetown, MA where I grew up there is an historic Unitarian/Universalist Church I attended for a very short time as a child when my mother wanted me to investigate religions. She is a Baha'i and 87 now.
    • Elizabeth Forman
      Oct 14, 2018
      -
      Dear Melanie, So nice to hear there are other Baha’is who have lived on the Cape. Does your mother still live in Provincetown? My husband and I visit a Unitarian Church around the corner from us. We have begun to befriend them but have not told them yet that we are Baha’is. We are open to suggestions on how to approach this. Sincerely, Elizabeth Forman at elizabethforman65@gmail.com
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