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Prayer and Meditation
The core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing.1
Bahá'u'lláh Himself wrote hundreds of prayers. There are prayers for general use, for healing, for spiritual growth, for facing difficulties, for marriage, for community life, and for humanity itself.
Bahá'u'lláh also asked His followers to choose one of three "obligatory prayers" for recitation each day. The shortest of these prayers is just three sentences long. It says much about the relationship between God and humanity. It reads,
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou has 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.
The term "obligatory," as applied to these prayers, implies for Bahá'ís an understanding that humans have certain spiritual duties before God. Bahá'u'lláh also urged His followers to spend each day in meditation. Specifically, He encouraged us to reflect at the end of each day on our deeds and their worth. Other than this, Bahá'u'lláh did not specify a particular approach to meditation. Instead, each individual is free to choose his or her own meditational form.
- Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in Bahá'í News 102 (August 1936), p. 3.
* Adapted from Bahá'í Topics, an information resource produced by the Bahá'í International Community.