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The Baha’i teachings say that prayer helps transcend this material world and access the spiritual one.
In spite of the fact that God knows the deepest wishes and desires of our hearts, developing the practice of prayer can create and strengthen a loving and ongoing relationship with our Creator. The very act of prayer assists us to fulfill the purpose of our own creation:
The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His presence. – Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70.
In the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha revealed many prayers for our use – which makes it a simple proposition to scan the contents of a prayer book and find one that fills a particular need. The Baha’i writings have prayers for aid and assistance, forgiveness, healing, protection, spiritual growth and unity. Or, if you like, you can compose your own prayers. However, those written for us by Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l-Baha have more power, because they contain deeper spiritual truths than the actual words would indicate. The prayers given to us by the Manifestation of God contain truths that go beyond human understanding and that elevate us spiritually.
Prayer involves the use of our will. As we do when speaking with another person, we use our minds to think about the purpose of the conversation and then formulate what we want to say. In prayer we may have a topic in mind when we start, such as unity — but we want the words to take us beyond our own will. In this way, we get ourselves out of the way to obtain insight and guidance from God. Abdu’l-Baha speaks to this:
In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven. – Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 94.
Besides spoken prayer, we have another effective spiritual tool at our disposal to attain the presence of God – meditation. Abdu’l-Baha considers meditation to be the highest form of prayer:
Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see. The faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God. This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made. . . . – Paris Talks, p. 175.
It would seem our most powerful connection to God comes when we surrender our own will to His, and we sincerely seek what He may reveal to us. In the Bible, Proverbs 3:5 potently reminds us of this surrender:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Like most things, prayer and meditation work best when consistently practiced. Developing a daily practice of praying and meditating creates a sacred space for our souls to speak with their Creator. When we pray and meditate daily it becomes easier to turn to God as a source of strength, guidance and inspiration for our lives. Although as humans we will never attain perfection, with regular prayer and meditation we can begin to overcome our own selfish desires. That consistent connection with the mystical reminds us of our purpose here on earth — to radiate the love and goodness of God to all humanity.
The Baha’i writings advise everyone to fulfill our spirit’s desires with daily prayer and meditation. In our approach to God, Abdu’l-Baha says that a steady, systematic practice of prayer and meditation can infuse our souls with peace:
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. He verily hath dominion over all things. – Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 178.