I write on diverse religious issues, often analysing perspectives from the Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Bahá’í).
Bahá’í Prayers and You
In case you are wondering what Bahá’í prayers have to do with you, the simple answer is that many of them are universal invocations directed at God, the Creator of all, and as such can be used by anyone in the mood for prayer. That is especially important for those who wish to pray but cannot find the words or don’t know how.
The prayers come from the sacred literature of the Bahá’í Faith and were revealed at different times by the faith’s three Central Figures: Bahá’u’lláh (the Founder), the Báb (his Forerunner), and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Bahá’u’lláh’s successor)
Prayer for Morning
A Bahá’í will normally pray in the morning and reflect on verses from the Bahá’í sacred writings. He (or she, if it happens to be female) has a choice of prayers available to him covering many areas of need.
He is not obliged to, but should he decide to include a “morning prayer” in his morning devotions, the following (which is relatively short and among the best-known orisons of believers) might come in for consideration:
I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of Thy favor. (Bahá’u’lláh)
(Note: A name at the end of a prayer indicates its revealer.)
Prayer for the Day’s Occupation
The worshipper might choose to include a prayer for the day’s occupational activities:
O Lord! Unto Thee I repair for refuge, and toward all Thy signs I set my heart.
O Lord! Whether traveling or at home, and in my occupation or in my work, I place my whole trust in Thee.
Grant me then Thy sufficing help so as to make me independent of all things, O Thou Who art unsurpassed in Thy mercy!
Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever thou hast ordained for me.
Thine is the absolute authority to command. (The Báb)
Prayer for the Daily Commute
With the safety of the day's commute (to and from school or work) in mind, he might recite the following prayer during the morning devotion in advance of his departure:
I have risen this morning by Thy grace, O my God, and left my home trusting wholly in Thee, and committing myself to Thy care. Send down, then, upon me, out of the heaven of Thy mercy, a blessing from Thy side, and enable me to return home in safety even as Thou didst enable me to set out under Thy protection with my thoughts fixed steadfastly upon Thee.
There is none other God but Thee, the One, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. (Bahá’u’lláh)
The Midday Prayer
Some might wonder why Bahá’ís should have a prayer for midday, but the reason is not that straightforward.
The Obligatory Prayers
While most of the Bahá’í prayers are optional for believers, there are three that stand apart because of their obligatory status. Even so, a believer has a choice as to which one of the three he would offer on any particular day—as he is only required to perform one of the three each day. Each Obligatory Prayer has its own requirements (the details of which are outside the scope of this article).
Unlike the other two obligatory ones, the medium Obligatory Prayer has to be offered three times in a day—in the morning, noon, and evening. So, if a believer offers no Obligatory Prayer in the morning, then the medium Prayer is automatically excluded for the day. He could then opt to do the long Obligatory Prayer later in the day when he returns home from the day’s activity. This is because this prayer can be recited just once over a 24-hour period, which means at any time during the day or night.
The Short Obligatory Prayer
But he might simply choose the short Obligatory Prayer—which, while often described as the short midday prayer, can actually be recited (just once) at any time between noon and sunset. In the few lucid words of this prayer, the supplicant is reminded about the true purpose of his life on earth:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. (Bahá’u’lláh)
Prayer for Evening
Back at home, a believer will create some time for his evening devotions, which, as with the morning devotion, is likely to include prayers and the reading of more verses from the Bahá’í sacred scriptures. At his disposal is a trove of prayers covering diverse needs. Should he decide to include an “evening prayer” in his devotions, the following could be a choice:
How can I choose to sleep, O God, my God, when the eyes of them that long for Thee are wakeful because of their separation from Thee; and how can I lie down to rest whilst the souls of Thy lovers are sore vexed in their remoteness from Thy presence?
I have committed, O my Lord, my spirit and my entire being into the right hand of Thy might and Thy protection, and I lay my head on my pillow through Thy power, and lift it up according to Thy will and Thy good pleasure. Thou art, in truth, the Preserver, the Keeper, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.
By Thy might! I ask not, whether sleeping or waking, but that which Thou dost desire. I am Thy servant and in Thy hands. Do Thou graciously aid me to do what will shed forth the fragrance of Thy good pleasure. This, truly, is my hope and the hope of them that enjoy near access to Thee. Praised be Thou, O Lord of the worlds! (Bahá’u’lláh)
The Midnight Prayer
What if he stays up late and feels an impulse to say a prayer before retiring to bed? In that case, an orison that could cross his mind might well be the midnight prayer. It comes with a preamble:
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:
And by the way, to "open thine eye” is not to acquire extrasensory perception (as is generally understood) or be endowed with psychic abilities. It is simply to become alive to spiritual impulses, be sensitive to matters of the spirit and perceptive of the inner meanings of the sacred Word.
Nor should “midnight” be interpreted narrowly.
After reflecting on the words of the preamble, he can proceed to his prayer:
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. (‘Abdu'l-Bahá)
A full daily cycle of prayers and devotion thus comes to end. Hopefully, the worshipper can lay down for a peaceful sleep, to awake the following morning in a refreshed state, ready for another cycle of spiritual and material pursuits.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Kobina Amissah-Fynn