Conversing with God

Below, in five separate passages from The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, Abdu’l-Baha refers to obligatory prayer as conversation with God.
“O thou daughter of the Kingdom! The Obligatory Prayers are binding inasmuch as they are conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face towards God and expressing devotion to Him. Through such prayer man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of his heart, and attaineth spiritual stations."

(Abdu’l-Baha, IOPF, 2, VI) [Emphasis added.]

Photo by Marco Abrar - Baha'
“The wisdom of obligatory prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because at that time man with all his heart and soul turneth his face towards the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and companionship. For a lover, there is no greater pleasure than to converse with his beloved, and for a seeker, there is no greater bounty than intimacy with the object of his desire. It is the greatest longing of every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God to find time to turn with entire devotion to his Beloved, so as to seek His bounty and blessing and immerse himself in the ocean of communion, entreaty and supplication. Moreover, obligatory prayer and fasting produce awareness and awakening in man, and are conducive to his protection and preservation from tests.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, IOPF, 2, VII) [Emphasis added.]

"Obligatory prayer causeth the heart to become attentive to the Divine kingdom. One is alone with God, converseth with Him, and acquireth bounties. Likewise, if one performeth the Obligatory Prayer with his heart in a state of utmost purity, he will obtain the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, and this will entirely obliterate love of self...”

(Abdu’l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XI) [Emphasis added.]

“Obligatory prayer and supplication cause man to reach the kingdom of mystery, and the worship of the Supreme One. They bestow nearness unto His threshold. There is a pleasure in offering prayers that transcendeth all other pleasures, and there is a sweetness in chanting and singing the verses of God which is the greatest desire of all the believers, men and women alike. While reciting the Obligatory Prayer, one converseth intimately and shareth secrets with the true Beloved. No pleasure is greater than this, if one proceedeth with a detached soul, with tears overflowing, with a trusting heart and an eager spirit. Every joy is earthly save this one, the sweetness of which is divine.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XIII) [Emphasis added.]

In the remarkable excerpt that follows, Abdu'l-Baha relates His own personal experience in conversing with God:
"Obligatory prayer is the very foundation of the Cause of God. Through it joy and vitality infuse the heart. Even if every grief should surround Me, as soon as I engage in conversing with God in obligatory prayer, all My sorrows disappear and I attain joy and gladness. A condition descendeth upon Me which I am unable to describe or express. Whenever, with full awareness and humility, we undertake to perform the Obligatory Prayer before God, and recite it with heartfelt tenderness, we shall taste such sweetness as to endow all existence with eternal life."

(Abdu’l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XIV) [Emphasis added.]

In the last sentence of the excerpt above, Abdu'l-Baha has given us insight into how to "undertake to perform the Obligatory Prayer":
  • "with full awareness and humilty"
  • "before God"
  • "recite it with heartfelt tenderness"

Writing of the Long Obligatory Prayer, Hand of the Cause of God George Townshend observed that "believers have found that they can apply it, or major parts of it, to a special crisis or a special act in their own lives and can thus the better understand the Prayer and spiritualise their problems."

On occasion I have experienced this. There was one time in particular I remember when I was in utter desperation and felt hemmed in and bound by difficulties on every side. I turned to reciting the Long Obligatory Prayer and had the eerie sensation, while praying, in tears, that every phrase of the prayer was addressed personally to me, about my specific issues. Oddly, I can't even remember now what the problems were. But I had the strongest possible realization of being shown clear and distinct answers--a spiritual perspective with which I must become imbued: "Whatsoever is revealed by Thee is the desire of my heart and the beloved of my soul."

Through focusing on the words given by Baha’u’llah as they are being recited during obligatory prayer, Baha’is have access to guidance and protection in their conversation with God. In this conversation, one may enter into an exchange with God, Baha’u’llah, the Concourse on high, and one’s own spirit.
"Man's speech is the revealer of his heart. In whatever world the heart travels, man's conversation will revolve around that center."

(Attributed to Abdu'l-Baha, 25 July 1914: Star of the West, Volume VIII, No. 2, pp. 24-25)

“You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Baha'u'llah: it all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Baha'u'llah.”

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 14 October 1937 to an individual believer)

Conversation requires listening as well as speaking.

“O My friend, listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes.”

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 37)

Next: "Ablutions"

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