Lamentation (LOP XI, Notes 94-97)

Thou dost perceive my tears and the sighs I utter, and hearest my groaning, and my wailing, and the lamentation of my heart. [XI]

94) The word ‘tears’ appears twice in the Long Obligatory Prayer. “Thou dost perceive my tears and the sighs I utter.” And: “Thou seest, O my God, how my tears prevent me from remembering Thee and from extolling Thy virtues…”

To whatever degree one has tears, God sees. Some may shed little or no tears in their life. Some have tears they are holding back. God sees those too.

By Thy might! My trespasses have kept me back from drawing nigh unto Thee; and my sins have held me far from the court of Thy holiness. [XI]

95) Regarding ‘trespasses’ and ‘sins’: these may include one’s thoughts going where they shouldn’t go – straying from God, (one may become aware of this during the recital of an obligatory prayer).

“The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the near ones...”

(a saying quoted by Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 30.12, p.142)

Little wonder that one of the titles of God fixed in the Short Obligatory Prayer, and offered in the Medium Obligatory Prayer, is the ‘Help in Peril.’

One’s racing thoughts may shift every few or several seconds while praying. This lack of mental focus, this short attention span, is sometimes called ‘the monkey brain.’ But there’s an old saying, used in song and possibly derived from the circus or vaudeville, ‘One monkey don’t stop the show.’ No matter how much one’s mind wanders, to persevere in the daily recital of an Obligatory Prayer, as the Writings repeatedly attest, is a spiritual necessity.


Abdu’l-Baha urged “Be constant in offering obligatory prayer...” Further, He wrote, “I hope that thou wilt persevere in the recitation of the Obligatory Prayer, and thus will come to witness the power of entreaty and supplication.” And, “Persevere in the use of the Obligatory Prayer and early morning supplications, so that day by day thine awareness may increase...” (See The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting (IOPF) Part 2, VIII, XI, XVI)

“Recite the Obligatory Prayer and supplications as much as thou art able, so that day by day thou mayest attain to increased firmness and steadfastness and find greater joy and gladness. Thus the circle of divine knowledge will grow wider, and the fire of the love of God will burn brighter within thee.”

(Abdu'l-Baha, IOPF, 2, XVII)

“Obligatory prayers and supplications are the very water of life. They are the cause of existence, of the refinement of souls, and of their attainment to the utmost joy. Exercise the greatest care in this regard, and encourage others to recite the Obligatory Prayers and supplications.”

(Abdu'l-Baha, IOPF, Part 2, XVIII)

my sins have held me far from the court of Thy holiness [XI]

96) “The ninth Glad-Tidings

"When the sinner findeth himself wholly detached and freed from all save God, he should beg forgiveness and pardon from Him. Confession of sins and transgressions before human beings is not permissible, as it hath never been nor will ever be conducive to divine forgiveness. Moreover such confession before people results in one‘s humiliation and abasement, and God – exalted be His glory – wisheth not the humiliation of His servants. Verily He is the Compassionate, the Merciful. The sinner should, between himself and God, implore mercy from the Ocean of mercy, beg forgiveness from the Heaven of generosity…”

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 24)

For a Baha’i, confession is done in private conversation with God. Baha’u’llah has given us ideal words to do so as part of the Long Obligatory Prayer. The two sections of the prayer most focused on lamentation and confession are preceded in the prayer’s text, respectively, by directions to "stand erect" and to “rise.” One is led to make an utterly thorough acknowledgment, but not to grovel.

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.”

(Baha'u'llah, Arabic Hidden Words, No. 22)

“How often have the Prophets of God and His universal Manifestations confessed in Their prayers to Their sins and shortcomings! This is only to instruct other souls, to inspire and encourage them to be humble and submissive before God, and to acknowledge their own sins and shortcomings. For these holy Souls are sanctified above every sin and freed from every fault. For example, it is said in the Gospel that a man came to Christ and called Him "Good Master." Christ answered, "Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."* Now, this did not mean—God forbid!—that Christ was a sinner, but rather His intention was to teach humility, lowliness, meekness, and modesty to the man He was addressing. These blessed Souls are light, and light cannot united with darkness. They are life everlasting, and life cannot be gathered in with death. They are guidance, and guidance cannot be brought together with waywardness. They are the very essence of obedience, and obedience cannot join hands with rebellion.”

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 44.12, pp. 194-95)

*[Footnote] Matt. 19:16, 17.
Please see also Note 51.

Thy love, O my Lord, hath enriched me, and separation from Thee hath destroyed me, and remoteness from Thee hath consumed me. [XI]

97) ‘Destroyed’ may seem an atypical word choice for a prayer, as in: “separation from Thee hath destroyed me” and (later) “my heedlessness hath destroyed me.” However, far from inducing estrangement or leading one to feel that one is unworthy, observe that Baha'u'llah provides loving words for tearful destroyed people consumed by remoteness to address God.

Confession and Lamentation in the Long Obligatory Prayer
  • “this stranger”
  • “this transgressor”
  • “this lowly one”
  • “this poor creature”
  • “this wretched creature”
  • “…my tears and the sighs I utter…my groaning, and my wailing, and the lamentation of my heart.”
  • “My trespasses have kept me back from drawing nigh unto Thee; and my sins have held me far from the court of Thy holiness.”
  • “…separation from Thee hath destroyed me, and remoteness from Thee hath consumed me.”
  • “My back is burdened by the burden of my sins and my heedlessness hath destroyed me.”
  • “my evil doings”
  • “I blush to lift up my face to Thee and my longing hands are ashamed to stretch forth...”
  • “Thou seest, O my God, how my tears prevent me from remembering Thee and from extolling Thy virtues…
Yes, one may be imperfect and even full of failings, but nonetheless, the mercy, grace and bounty of God as referenced in the Long Obligatory Prayer are overwhelming in their fullness. (See, for example, Notes 19, 46, 51 and 75.)

Moreover, Baha’u’llah has provided an indestructible Covenant; a Divine Examplar; sacred Writings and infallible guidance replete with insight, solutions, assurances, encouragement, meditations, prayers for every condition and circumstance, promises, prophecies, and plans; an organic administrative Order; Baha’i community life and more--so that one may advance in happiness on a meaningful path of service through the course of not only this life, but also the next.

"Everything Thou doest is pure justice, nay, the very essence of grace. One gleam from the splendors of Thy Name, the All-Merciful, sufficeth to banish and blot out every trace of sinfulness from the world..."

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 252)

Next: "Here Am I"

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