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So, it’s important that we do everything that we can to make our prayers as effective as possible. Here are six tips, from a Baha’i perspective, for your daily prayers.
1. Use the Scriptures and Prayers From the Manifestations of God
Baha’is believe that God has never left humanity without guidance and has instead sent divine messengers, or Manifestations of God, throughout history. These Manifestations include Abraham, Zoroaster, Moses, the Buddha, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Bab, the herald of Baha’u’llah, and the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha‘u’llah.
We may pray to God directly, pray through the Manifestations to God, or do both. But Baha’is believe that the prayers that were revealed by the Manifestations of God have the greatest power. As explained in a letter written in 1937 on behalf of the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, to an individual Baha’i, “our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him [God] through His Manifestation…”
The central figures of the Baha’i Faith revealed thousands of prayers for us to say on every subject ranging from forgiveness and spiritual growth to unity and healing.
2. Take Time for Private Prayer
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.
Prayer is a sacred, intimate act between us and our Creator. So, it’s important that we are away from people, and all other distractions, as we wait to receive divine inspiration.
3. Pray Every Morning and Evening
If you’re wondering when you should pray, it’s best to start and end your day with prayer. Baha’is believe that our morning prayers are particularly special at dawn, between dawn and sunrise, and two hours after sunrise. Baha’u’llah wrote:
At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and, with all his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.
As our body becomes aglow with the morning sunlight, so does our spirit become illumined with divine light. Morning prayers uplift, inspire, and strengthen us for our long day ahead. They put us in a positive mindset and give us the spiritual boost we need.
And, our evening prayers detach and cleanse our hearts from the day’s events. Baha’is believe that midnight is another sacred time to pray and receive divine guidance. Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah’s son and the authorized interpreter of the Baha’i writings, wrote:
O seeker of Truth! If thou desirest that God may open thine eye, thou must supplicate unto God, pray to and commune with Him at midnight, saying:
O Lord, I have turned my face unto Thy kingdom of oneness and am immersed in the sea of Thy mercy. O Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night, and make me happy by the wine of Thy love in this wonderful age. O Lord, make me hear Thy call, and open before my face the doors of Thy heaven, so that I may see the light of Thy glory and become attracted to Thy beauty.
Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Generous, the Merciful, the Forgiving.
4. Recite Your Prayers With Joy, Radiance, and Love
This is one of the most important tips on how you should pray. Baha’is believe that the spirit in which we recite our prayers is more significant than the prayer itself. Abdu’l-Baha explained:
Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and attitude. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing.
Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Read ye the sacred verses in such measure that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency. Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend.
5. Pray for Your Will to Align With God’s Will
I know how tempting it is to pray for our personal wishes to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, what we want is not necessarily what’s best for us. Only God knows what we need for our spiritual development and what will be good for us in the long run. So, when we pray for ourselves, we need to pray that our will aligns with God’s will. As stated in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in 1938:
The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfil his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.
6. Act on the Inspiration That Comes From Your Prayers
After we pray, we should meditate on the meaning and implications of the verses of God and silently wait to receive divine guidance and inspiration.
Once we receive clarity and discover a solution to the problem we may be praying to resolve, we must transform our prayers into action. As we act, we should have faith and confidence that the Manifestations, the Holy Spirit, and God will assist and confirm us. As Ruth Moffett, a Baha’i and author, wrote after hearing Shoghi Effendi speak about prayer:
Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered, and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out.
The Baha’i writings encourage us to have a world-embracing vision as we endeavor to live a life of prayer in action:
Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!