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Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. – Mahatma Gandhi
Prayer is the drowning and unconsciousness of the soul. – Rumi
No man ever prayed heartily without learning something. – Emerson
Prayer is the service of the heart. – The Talmud
Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
On most mornings, my wife Teresa and I say prayers together. We sit down next to each other on the couch with our Baha’i prayer books, gaze out the window at the beauty of the trees around our house, and quietly read a few of the beautiful supplications to the Creator written by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha.
The other day, after our morning prayers had concluded, we both realized how central this daily practice of prayer has become to our lives, and how much we look forward to and love these moments of each day. Calming, centering and consciousness-raising, it gives us a quiet, meditative period of reflection and thoughtful openness we simply wouldn’t have otherwise. Shared prayer brings us closer together, and allows us to start the day by opening our hearts and souls to inspiration. We both feel its effects on the days we pray together; and we feel a void when the press and pressure of work or travel or whatever prohibits us from praying together.
More and more, we realize that skipping our morning prayers has a cost—it means that we approach the day with a little less spiritual preparation; with a diminished sense of inner strength; without that time of peace and grace and calmness everyone needs to marshall their forces and prepare for the world’s onslaught.
So this week we both thought we’d write a series of essays about prayer.
No matter which Faith you espouse—or even if you have no Faith—a time set aside for meditative reflection and prayer each day can have enormous physical, mental, psychological and spiritual benefits. Research clearly indicates that prayer not only improves your mood, but makes you more forgiving, increases your ability to trust others, maximizes your self-control, and actually offsets the negative health effects of stress. People who make a habitual daily commitment to pray and meditate increase their awareness, their mindfulness and their own happiness.
Beyond all that, prayer connects you with something greater than yourself, aligning your soul with the mysterious and mystical forces in the universe.
So in this series of essays, my dear wife and I want to share some of the Baha’i prayers that bring us joy and comfort, like this one:
O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.
O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.
O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.
O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.
Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, pp. 101-102.