To Be Recited

“The believer is entirely free to choose any one of these three prayers, but is under the obligation of reciting either one of them, and in accordance with any specific directions with which they may be accompanied.”

(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Baha'i Administration, p. 7.) [Emphasis added.]

  • “TO BE RECITED” is part of the directions for each of them
Short Obligatory Prayer: “To be recited once in twenty-four hours, at noon”

Medium Obligatory Prayer: “To be recited daily, in the morning, at noon, and in the evening”

Long Obligatory Prayer: “To be recited once in twenty-four hours”
  • The word “say” appears six times in the directions incorporated into the Medium Obligatory Prayer, fifteen times in the Long Obligatory Prayer.
From these repeated instructions containing the words ‘say’ and ‘recite,’ one might assume that that the daily obligatory prayer must be said aloud. However, the Guardian clarified this matter:
"The daily prayers are to be said each one for himself, aloud or silent makes no difference. There is no congregational prayer except that for the dead. We read healing and other prayers in our meetings, but the daily prayer is a personal obligation, so someone else reading it is not quite the same thing as saying it for yourself..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 31 January 1949: Baha'i News, No. 220, June 1949, pp. 2-3) [Emphasis added.]
"Reciting the Greatest Name means to repeat it over and over, silently or out loud..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 9 June, 1948, Unfolding Destiny, p. 450) [Emphasis added.]

The Most Acceptable Prayer

There are obviously more important considerations than vocalization. In a passage that, with good reason, is widely celebrated among Baha'is, the Bab shares the divine criteria for evaluating prayer:
"Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men.

"Fire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise.

"Although when true worship is offered, the worshipper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the paradise of God's good-pleasure, yet such should not be the motive of his act. However, God's favour and grace ever flow in accordance with the exigencies of His inscrutable wisdom.

"The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God."
Persian Bayan, VII, 19.

(The Bab,
Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 77-78)

Next: "Long Obligatory Prayer Considered"

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