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Spirituality

Praying Together: Creating Unity and Trust

David Langness | Oct 14, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES Making Prayer a Perpetual Part of Life

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 | Oct 14, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES Making Prayer a Perpetual Part of Life

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

Pray to God that He may strengthen you in divine virtue, so that you may be as angels in the world, and beacons of light to disclose the mysteries of the Kingdom to those with understanding hearts. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 60.

Prayer and supplication are two wings whereby man soars toward the heavenly mansion of the True One. However, verbal repetition of prayer does not suffice. One must live in a continual attitude of prayer. When man is spiritually free his mind becomes the altar of prayer and his heart the sanctuary of prayer. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 41.

My prayer for you is that your spiritual faculties and aspirations may daily increase, and that you will never allow the material senses to veil from your eyes the glories of the Heavenly Illumination. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 94.

Do harm to nobody; pray for all; try to make your light shine in the world and let your banner fly high in the Heavens. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 117.

The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life… – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 201.

One of the most important discoveries my wife and I have made in our quarter-century of marriage has to do with joint prayer.

When we first married, we said our prayers separately. Like most couples, she had her spiritual practice and I had mine. For a while, we kept it that way. But then she suggested we try praying together. At first, I wasn’t so sure, but we tried it and it felt right, so we kept it up. Now it has become a central part of our life together, and it has definitely increased the connection we feel between us, too.

Recent studies have found that a regular devotional practice of joint prayer increases feelings of unity and trust between people. Those who pray together with a close friend or a loved one, or a group of people, typically have an experience that brings them closer together. This kind of devotional meeting or “social” prayer gathering, whether it involves two people or two hundred, definitely helps build close relationships.

The Baha’i teachings encourage this kind of unified devotional gathering:

Man may say, “I can pray to God whenever I wish, when the feelings of my heart are drawn to God; when I am in the wilderness, when I am in the city, or wherever I may be. Why should I go where others are gathered upon a special day, at a certain hour, to unite my prayers with theirs when I may not be in a frame of mind for praying” To think in this way is useless imagination for where many are gathered together their force is greater. Separate soldiers fighting alone and individually have not the force of a united army. If all the soldiers in this spiritual war gather together then their united spiritual feelings help each other and their prayers become more acceptable. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 46.

Baha’is don’t have congregational prayers—where one person reads or chants a prayer and everyone else repeats it—but the Baha’i teachings do encourage spiritual gatherings that focus on prayer and devotion to God.

In fact, just about every Baha’i community hosts open devotional gatherings that welcome everyone.

Baha’i Houses of Worship around the world have the same approach—they’re open to everybody, of all Faiths and no faith, for worship, song, silent reflection, prayer and devotion. Each Baha’i House of Worship, no matter where it is in the world, has nine sides and nine entrances, symbolizing the unity of all religions and the oneness of humanity:

…the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity — places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them. That is why Baha’u’llah has commanded that a place of worship be built for all the religionists of the world; that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter; that the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness… – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 66.

In many ways, the entire structure of the Baha’i Faith—its writings, its Houses of Worship, its administrative order, its meetings and its teachings—exist to connect us to the spiritual and the mystical in life. Through prayer, whether offered to God individually or jointly, Baha’u’llah asks us to consciously make that connection every day:

Intone, O My servants, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. iv.

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