In this quotation from Baha’u’llah’s mystical book The Hidden Words, he seems to be telling us something quite fundamental:
As a prophet of God, Baha’is believe, Baha’u’llah speaks on His behalf. So when pronouns like “Me” and “My” are capitalized and emphasized in Baha’u’llah’s writings, they usually refer to God. Here, then, Baha’u’llah asks us to commune with God’s Spirit.
We may reasonably believe that if Baha’u’llah mentions the “essence” of his command then it must be significant. So what is he telling us? Perhaps he’s saying that if we forget everything else and commune with God through him—the latest messenger of God—then we fulfill the fundamental thing that God wants from us.
What exactly does “commune” mean? Webster’s defines it like this: “to talk together intimately.”
So, it would seem vital that we talk to our Creator’s spirit. How do we do this? Abdu’l-Baha tells us: “Man must live in a state of prayer. The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication. Prayer is conversation with God.” – Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 41.
So, if prayer is conversation with God, then we can commune with God through Baha’u’llah by praying to Him. How often should we do this? Well, according to the above quote, we should “live in a state of prayer.”
But would Baha’u’llah necessarily expect us to pray while, for example, chairing an important meeting, operating dangerous machinery or looking after young children? In other words, can we focus on other things in our lives when we need to? Baha’u’llah surely wants us to be part of society, living our lives alongside others. We may have people who depend on us, important tasks, careers, families and so on, and will want to discharge these responsibilities to the best of our abilities.
What if, the Baha’i teachings ask, we expanded our definition of prayer to include all of those human activities?
For example, what if we treated our work the same as worship?
Everyone should have some trade, or art or profession, be he rich or poor, and with this he must serve humanity. This service is acceptable as the highest form of worship. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 92.
So, from a Baha’i perspective prayer seems to have a very broad meaning, including recitation of prayers revealed by the messengers of each Faith, and prayers composed by others, and intimate conversation with God, and work and service. Baha’is seek communion with Baha’u’llah in every aspect and moment of their lives. Perhaps that’s what Abdu’l-Baha meant when he said “Man must live in a state of prayer.”
What will be some of the results when we “commune” with him?
Should we seek to enter into this communion, Baha’u’llah assures us that he will be near to us and also ever ready to answer our call. This is reinforced by the following direction: “Turn thy sight unto thyself that thou mayest find Me standing within thee mighty powerful and self-subsisting.” – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 7.
So, Baha’u’llah is as close to us as he is ready to answer our call. All we have to do is look inside. It almost sounds too good to be true—would he really answer you or me, or is this something just reserved for the “good” people of the world? Baha’u’llah said:
This point too, seems unequivocal. We are told, in terms that could hardly be clearer, that absolutely every soul that turns to him will be answered in some way. If we ask for something specific will the prayer always be answered? No, not if it doesn’t conform to the divine will. Abdu’l-Baha explains why:
But we ask for things which the divine wisdom does not desire for us, and there is no answer to our prayer. His wisdom does not sanction what we wish. We pray, “O God! Make me wealthy!” If this prayer were universally answered, human affairs would be at a standstill. There would be none left to work in the streets, none to till the soil, none to build, none to run the trains. Therefore, it is evident that it would not be well for us if all prayers were answered. The affairs of the world would be interfered with, energies crippled and progress hindered. But whatever we ask for which is in accord with divine wisdom, God will answer. Assuredly! – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 247.
Although many people in the world may feel spiritually lost, in fact, God has called out to us loud and clear, telling us exactly what we need to do in order to develop a relationship with Him. He almost seems to yearn for our company, and who are we to deny him?
Rely upon God. Trust in Him. Praise Him, and call Him continually to mind. He verily turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 178.