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How do I become Baha’i?
Spirituality

How Can the Created Approach the Creator?

Paul Mantle | Sep 22, 2015

PART 3 IN SERIES A Profound Daily Prayer

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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Paul Mantle | Sep 22, 2015

PART 3 IN SERIES A Profound Daily Prayer

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

“There is none other God but Thee,” says the short daily Baha’i prayer. Millions of people around the world say this prayer every day, testifying to the oneness and singleness of the Supreme Being. Baha’is believe in one God, Who is the Source of all religions, and this prayer distills that core principle and belief.

Throughout history, countless passages of scripture, written meditations and commentaries on monotheism have made this same point. One particularly riveting perspective, written in 1941, examines what happens when we try to replace the one God with false gods:

God Himself has indeed been dethroned from the hearts of men, and an idolatrous world passionately and clamorously hails and worships the false gods which its own idle fancies have fatuously created, and its misguided hands so impiously exalted… Their high priests are the politicians and the worldly-wise, the so-called sages of the age; their sacrifice, the flesh and blood of the slaughtered multitudes; their incantations outworn shibboleths and insidious and irreverent formulas; their incense, the smoke of anguish that ascends from the lacerated hearts of the bereaved, the maimed, and the homeless. – Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 113.

This succinct Baha’i prayer avows that God is “the Help in Peril…” This way of thinking about God can be a great assurance, considering the many dangers that face us in this existence, including the peril of sinking into the depths of selfishness and never realizing the true purpose of life.

On another tragic level, many people throughout the world—as the media constantly reminds us—face violence, pain and starvation, threatened by crime, warfare, and economic and environmental collapse. Can prayer protect us, and protect humanity? Baha’is believe that prayer, as one key component in the spiritual development of individuals and all societies, can help us move beyond the prejudices of the past toward a more benevolent, unified future:

Loud are the piercing cries of fatherless children; loud the mothers’ anguished voices, reaching to the skies. And the breeding-ground of all these tragedies is prejudice: prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion; and the root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past—imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics. So long as this aping of the past persisteth, just so long will the foundations of the social order be blown to the four winds, just so long will humanity be continually exposed to direst peril. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 247.

Baha’u’llah ends the short daily Baha’i prayer with another name or title of God, “the Self-Subsisting.” In unpacking the meaning of that unique designation, The Universal House of Justice explained:

It is likely that this term signifies in some way a basic concept of the Faith; namely, that creation is an emanation from God, without Whose continuing bounty and grace it would cease to exist. The term thus underscores the immense contrast between our reality, which is related to the contingent world, and His reality which is independent of any cause and which entirely transcends the world of being. Indeed, the point is that He is the Cause of being itself. There is a way to deduce such a meaning, however, solely from the common meaning of the words. According to its primary dictionary definition, “to subsist” means to have existence, to persist or continue. The addition of “self” makes it reflexive. Knowing just these two things, can we not then say that if God is self-subsisting it means that there is nothing other than Himself upon which He depends for His continuing existence? In other words, He exists in and of Himself without being dependent on any other cause: He has no creator and there is nothing prior to Him. – The Universal House of Justice, 21 January 1993, “Translations of the Guardian,” p. 1.

Here’s the entire prayer again:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. – Baha’i Prayers, p. 3.

Prayer fulfills an essential need in any personal program for uplifting one’s consciousness. Give it a try—see if you find that the intimate daily practice of prayer provides an antidote to society’s prevailing materialistic interpretation of reality. Belief is a necessary and inextinguishable urge of our species. Reverence and worship are innate human impulses. Ultimately, your heart may discover that the iron dogma of materialism is no match for your human yearning for certitude.

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