from 'The Call To God'

The following excerpt is from "a meditation" entitled 'The Call To God,' written by Hand of the Cause of God George Townshend. It is part of the compilation of Townshend's writings The Mission of Baha'u'llah and other literary pieces, published by George Ronald.

'The Obligatory Prayers...are designed to be used daily by Baha'i of all degrees for generations to come. They are about that which Baha'u'llah wishes to be the essence and constant centre of Baha'i devotion and thought. Comprehensive and complex they may be: but their subject is one and simple. It is the knowledge and the love of God.

'The Short Prayer states the whole matter in a word: "Thou hast created me to know Thee and adore Thee."

'The Medium Prayer is more particular. It specifies in two verses the fact of the Manifestation. The first verse presents this in its transcendent aspect, proclaiming God's Advent and His Sovereignty. The second acknowledges His omnipresence and unity, gives the substance of His Revelation and remembers the champions of the Faith.

'The Long Prayer develops the theme still more fully and deeply. It seeks the vision of God's Beauty, an approach to His presence, an eternity of progress in His knowledge. The main phases of the thought seem to be Self-Surrender, Confirmation, Adoration and Thanksgiving, Penitence, and Trust in forgiveness and redemption through the special graces of this Dispensation. While this Long Prayer has one definite, elevated subject, 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.

'How marked and how significant, on the one side the correspondence and on the other the contrast that exist between this prayer of the New Age and the Lord's Prayer which Christians have been repeating for nineteen centuries. Here is reflected the continuity of the work of Christ and Baha'u'llah and the Oneness of their common purpose. Here, too (in an hour when many fear Christ has thrown away His teaching on an unworthy race), is a testimony to the ultimate success of His glorious ministry and sacrifice.

'The first petitions of the Lord's Prayer are for the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth.

'The Obligatory Prayers imply and declare that the Kingdom has come: for instance "the All-Possessing is come. Earth and heaven, glory and dominion are God's..." and "He Who hath been manifested is the Hidden Mystery... through whom the letters 'B' and 'E' have been joined and knit together..." (that is, mankind's true existence begins in the New Era).

'The Lord's Prayer remembers a prophecy and a promise; and centres men's attention on a triumphant future on earth. The Obligatory Prayers contain no prophecy and aim at an inward spiritual attainment.

'Christ's prayer is social in form. It is suited to spiritual children, being very simple and largely practical. In the words "as we forgive those who trespass against us" it adverts to the virtue of personal mercy to which Christ gave special prominence.

'The Prayer of Baha'u'llah is personal and mystical, advanced in character and suited to a maturer race. It carries the idea of communion and unity far, invoking in the Long Prayer all the Prophets of the Ages, interceding for the past heroes of the Faith, and joining the worshipper's testimony to this Era and its Prophet with the testimony of those in the highest heaven and of the Tongue of Grandeur itself as well as with that of all creation.'

(George Townshend, from "The Call To God," in
The Mission of Baha'u'llah and other literary pieces, George Ronald, pp. 71-72)

Another Baha'i website: "Baha'i Mosaic"

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