Crucial Compilation

Only some five months after the message of late December 1999, 'Further Application of Devotional Laws,' the Universal House of Justice released a compilation on the subject of individual devotional practices: The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, Selection of Extracts and Prayers From the Bahá'í Writings, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, May, 2000. (Abbreviated IOPF hereafter.)

In order to survey part of this crucial compilation of authorized translations, as well as the subject of Baha’i obligatory prayer in general, extracted from it here are brief excerpts from the writings of Baha’u’llah which I have arbitrarily organized under these three headings:
a) Descriptive of obligatory prayer
b) Purposes of obligatory prayer
c) How to: bringing obligatory prayer into your life

The glimpses that follow are from eleven passages extracted from tablets of Baha'u'llah in the above compilation (IOPF) wherein He is speaking explicitly about obligatory prayer or obligatory prayer and fasting; a reference to obligatory prayer in a prayer of Baha'u'llah for the Fast included in the same compilation; and from the Long Obligatory Prayer itself.
(The numbers preceding the extracts below have been added only for reference within the context of this blog.)

Descriptive of obligatory prayer

1) “…that which will draw them nearer unto Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Loving.” IOPF, 1, I

2) “Whosoever experienceth the holy ecstasy of worship will refuse to barter such an act or any praise of God for all that existeth in the world.”

3) “Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man's life.”

4) “Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon.”

5) “In truth, they [fasting and obligatory prayer] are the pillars of religion…”

6) “As for obligatory prayer, it hath been sent down by the Pen of the Most High in such wise that it setteth ablaze the hearts and captivateth the souls and minds of men.”

7) “O My brother! How great, how very great, can the law of obligatory prayer be, when, through His mercy and loving kindness, one is enabled to observe it.”

8) “One of the deeds in obedience to the law is obligatory prayer.”
IOPF, 1, X

9) “In truth, it [the Long Obligatory Prayer] hath been revealed in such wise that if it be recited to a rock, that rock would stir and speak forth; and if it be recited to a mountain, that mountain would move and flow. Well is it with the one who reciteth it and fulfilleth God's precepts. Whichever prayer is read will suffice.”

Purposes of Obligatory Prayer
1) “…that all may by these means draw nigh unto God…” IOPF, 1, I

2) “All praise be unto God, Who hath revealed the law of obligatory prayer as a reminder to His servants…” *

3) “…whereby the righteous are distinguished from those who transgress His commandments.”

4) “He, verily, hath bidden all to observe that which hath been and will be of profit to them.”

5) “He Who is the Bearer of divine mysteries hath called it the ladder of ascent.
He saith: “Obligatory prayer is a ladder of ascent for the believer.”’ IOPF, 1, X [Footnote:] “A tradition attributed to the Imam Ali.”

6) “Within it are hidden and concealed a myriad effects and benefits. Indeed, they are beyond computation.” IOPF, 1, X

7) “These are the days whereon Thou hast enjoined Thy chosen ones, Thy loved ones and Thy servants to observe the Fast, which Thou hast made a light unto the people of Thy kingdom, even as Thou didst make obligatory prayer a ladder of ascent unto those who acknowledge Thy unity. I beg of Thee, O my God, by these two mighty pillars, which Thou hast ordained as a glory and honour for all mankind, to keep Thy religion safe from the mischief of the ungodly and the plotting of every wicked doer.”
IOPF, 3, V

These purposes are stated in the Long Obligatory Prayer itself:

8) ... make of my prayer a fire that will burn away the veils which have shut me out from Thy beauty…” [I]

9) “…and a light that will lead me unto the ocean of Thy Presence.” [I]

10) Make my prayer, O my Lord, a fountain of living waters whereby I may live as long as Thy sovereignty endureth, and may make mention of Thee in every world of Thy worlds.” [IV]

How to: bringing Obligatory Prayer into your life

1) “Observe ye the commandments of God for love of His beauty…” IOPF, 1, I

2) “…and be not of those who follow in the ways of the abject and foolish.” IOPF, 1, I

3) “Blessed be the one who soareth with their [fasting and obligatory prayer] aid in the heaven of the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.” IOPF, 1, III

4) “Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting.” IOPF, 1, IV

5) “Concerning obligatory prayer, it hath been revealed in such wise that whosoever reciteth it, even one time, with a detached heart, will find himself wholly severed from the world.” IOPF, 1, VIII

6) “When a man commenceth the recitation of the Obligatory Prayer, he should see himself severed from all created things…” IOPF, 1, IX

7) “…and regard himself as utter nothingness before the will and purpose of God, in such wise that he seeth naught but Him in the world of being.” IOPF, 1, IX

8) “We entreat God, exalted and glorified be He, that He may graciously enable all to observe that which He hath revealed in His Ancient Book.” IOPF, 1, V

9) “How great would be a man's indolence and his injustice to himself if he were to abandon this ladder of ascent and attach himself to earthly treasures.”
IOPF, 1, X

10) “Of the new Obligatory Prayers that were later revealed, the long Obligatory Prayer should be said at those times when one feeleth himself in a prayerful mood.” IOPF, 1, XI

Next: "A Holy Deed"

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