Mystery of Supplication (LOP I & II, Notes 19-24)

19) What do we ask of God in the Long Obligatory Prayer?
  • “I beseech Thee…to make of my prayer a fire that will burn away the veils…and a light that will lead me…”

  • “I implore Thee…to do with Thy servant as Thou willest and pleasest.”
  • “Look not upon my hopes and my doings…nay rather look upon Thy will…”
  • “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.”
  • “I implore Thee…not to withhold from me that which is with Thee…”
  • “seeking the ocean of Thy forgiveness” and
  • “this lowly one the court of Thy glory” and
  • “this poor creature the orient of Thy wealth”
  • “I beg of Thee all that is with Thee…”
  • “I entreat Thee…to ordain that I may gaze on Thy beauty and observe whatsoever is in Thy Book.”
  • “I implore Thee…to do with Thy loved ones as becometh Thy bounty…and is worthy of Thy grace…”
  • “Protect us, we beseech Thee, O my Lord, from the hosts of idle fancies and vain imaginations.”

One's first request of God in the Long Obligatory Prayer is made through the Manifestations of God (plural): "I beseech Thee by them Who are the Daysprings of Thine invisible Essence..." [Emphasis added.] It appears that this opportunity to beg for intercession is not restricted to this life only, as Abdu'l-Baha has explained,
" souls can progress in this world through their entreaties and supplications, or through the prayers of holy souls, so too after death can they progress through their own prayers and supplications, particularly if they become the object of the intercession of the Holy Manifestations.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 62.7, p. 268) [Emphasis added.]

I beseech make of my prayer [I]

20) Stephen Birkland related a story to a session at Bosch Baha'i School near Santa Cruz, California, USA. The following is my recollection--a second-hand pilgrim's note!--of his account.

On one unforgettable day in the Holy Land, years ago, Mr. Birkland had been able to say the Long Obligatory Prayer, alone in the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, twice in one day. Later that day he recounted this blessing he had received—being able to say the Long Obligatory Prayer, alone in the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, on two different occasions in the same day—to Hand of the Cause Zhikru’llah Khadem. Mr. Khadem replied to Mr. Birkland that this was wonderful... but how did he know, that either one of them was accepted?

“Say: The very life of all deeds is My good pleasure, and all things depend upon Mine acceptance.”

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 32)

“Thus with steadfast steps we may tread the Path of certitude, that perchance the breeze that bloweth from the meads of the good-pleasure of God may waft upon us the sweet savours of divine acceptance, and cause us, vanishing mortals that we are, to attain unto the Kingdom of everlasting glory.”

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 133)

“In truth, it is in the hand of God to give what He willeth to whomsoever He willeth, and to withhold what He pleaseth from whomsoever He may wish.”
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 76)

“Blessed is the man that hath acknowledged his belief in God and in His signs, and recognized that "He shall not be asked of His doings". Such a recognition hath been made by God the ornament of every belief and its very foundation. Upon it must depend the acceptance of every goodly deed.”

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 77)

“Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest.” (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 67

‘Thou art He through Whom the ensign "Praiseworthy art Thou in Thy works" hath been lifted up, and the standard "Obeyed art Thou in Thy behest" hath been unfurled. Make known this Thy station, O my God, unto Thy servants, that they may be made aware that the excellence of all things is dependent upon Thy bidding and Thy word, and the virtue of every act is conditioned by Thy leave and the good-pleasure of Thy will, and may recognize that the reins of men's doings are within the grasp of Thine acceptance and Thy commandment.’

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 68)

Let him then raise his hands in supplication toward God [II]

21) Shoghi Effendi’s original English translation of the Obligatory Prayers appeared in a small booklet published by the Baha'i Publishing Committee, New York, NY in 1937 under the title
Three Obligatory Daily Prayers. In that edition, three of the directions in the Long Obligatory Prayer are:

“Let him raise his hands suppliantly toward God…”

“Let him again raise his hands in a suppliant attitude…”

"Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in a suppliant attitude…”

The next year, 1938, in
Prayers & Meditations By Baha'u'llah, these directions had been retranslated by Shoghi Effendi with the more fluent expression “in supplication” replacing “suppliantly” and “in a suppliant attitude.”

Let him then raise his hands in supplication toward God [II]

22) The hands are raised at five junctures, for a total of eight times, in the course of the Long Obligatory Prayer. At three of those junctures, for four of the eight times, the hands are raised “in supplication.”

"The instruction to raise one's hands occurs once in the medium Obligatory Prayer and five times in the long Obligatory Prayer. The term used in the original Arabic for the first, second and fourth occasions in the long prayer is the same as that used in the medium Prayer. Therefore it would be entirely correct for the worshipper, when raising his hands on these occasions during the recitation of the long Obligatory Prayer to follow the more specific instructions given in English by the Guardian in his translation of the medium one. On the third and fifth occasions the instruction is given in the long Prayer, the words 'in supplication' are omitted. The House of Justice does not wish at this time to give any specific guidance in this connection; it leaves the matter to the discretion of the friends."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982)

23) Supplication in the Medium Obligatory Prayer:

“Then, standing with open hands, palms upward toward the face, let him say: Disappoint not, O my God, him that hath, with beseeching fingers, clung to the hem of Thy mercy and Thy grace, O Thou Who of those who show mercy art the Most Merciful!”

Supplication in the Long Obligatory Prayer

  • “I beseech” and “we beseech”
  • “I implore” – three times
  • “I entreat”
  • “to beg of Thee”
  • One’s hands are raised “in supplication” four times in the prayer.
24) The Mystery of Supplication

'Know thou, verily, it is becoming in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth the seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.

'During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, “Thy Name is my healing,” consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions one’s ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one’s wants.’

(Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in John Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, 5th rev. ed. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition, pp. 92-93)

Next: "A Servant's Glory"


  1. "22) The hands are raised at five junctures, for a total of eight times"
    --Isn't it ten times?

  2. The total number of times the hands are raised is eight. I think the misunderstanding may be regarding this instance:

    "...the Universal House of Justice stated on 22 April 1991 that, in following the instruction "Let him then raise his hands, and repeat three times the Greatest Name", the believer is required to raise his hands once and to repeat the Greatest Name three times in conjunction with that act."

    (The Universal House of Justice, 2000 Nov 28, 'Various Questions re Long Obligatory Prayer')

    Perhaps you were raising the hands three times here, instead of once.