So you may be able to guess based on the title that I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. The morning before the declaration of The Bab I wrote in my journal that one virtue I wanted to work on was prayerfulness. It’s something that is valued in the faithful of every dispensation, but becoming a Baha’i from an atheist/Buddhist ideology, I had trouble praying with sincerity.
Now, I want to be clear that I think making the effort to pray, even if you don’t feel it, is valuable, the power of prayer has been scientifically proven (though the mechanisms of such positive change is still mostly a mystery), and above that- practice makes perfect.
Even still, I found that I was really only praying for half the prayer, and just reciting in-between as my mind wandered.
So I made a point to try and be more prayerful. I knew members in my community who exuded a spiritual light and peace, and I saw that they were known to pray morning, night, throughout the day, and with vigor. I could not ignore their strong connection with God was empowered by their verbal love letters.
That evening, at the local celebration of the Declaration of The Bab, I was asked to read a prayer. I flipped to the section on detachment, knowing there were prayers by The Bab to choose from there and read it allowed for the devotional. And I’m sure you’re not surprised by what I’m going to say but God blessed me with such a genuine connection to those words. As I read, I felt that my tone was led by the meaning, and my mind was wholly focused on the divinity of those words. A member of my community approached me afterwards and told me it was one of her favorites, and now it holds special significance to me too.
In the Name of Thy Lord, the Creator, the Sovereign, the All-Sufficing, the Most Exalted, He Whose help is implored by all men.
Say: O my God! O Thou Who art the Maker of the heavens and of the earth, O Lord of the Kingdom! Thou well knowest the secrets of my heart, while Thy being is inscrutable to all save Thyself. Thou seest whatsoever is of me, while no one else can do this save Thee. Vouchsafe unto me, through Thy grace, what will enable me to dispense with all except Thee, and destine for me that which will make me independent of everyone else besides Thee. Grant that I may reap the benefit of my life in this world and in the next. Open to my face the portals of Thy grace, and graciously confer upon me Thy tender mercy and bestowals.
O Thou Who art the Lord of grace abounding! Let Thy celestial aid surround those who love Thee, and bestow upon us the gifts and the bounties Thou dost possess. Be Thou sufficient unto us of all things, forgive our sins and have mercy upon us. Thou art Our Lord and the Lord of all created things. No one else do we invoke but Thee, and naught do we beseech but Thy favors. Thou art the Lord of bounty and grace, invincible in Thy power and the most skillful in Thy designs. No God is there but Thee, the All-Possessing, the Most Exalted.
Confer Thy blessings, O my Lord, upon the Messengers, the holy ones and the righteous. Verily, Thou art God, the Peerless, the All-Compelling.
The pleasure of that celebration elated me, and I felt like I was stepping on holy light the entire following day. Part of that though, probably was that there was another celebration in a nearby community I attended, and this one was a cook out!
I think this is a good time to bring up that there are two components to feeding your spirituality. Personal and public. Personally, my prayers that bind God and I together gives me strength and peace. What I do at home, or alone in some other place is vital to becoming a primarily spiritual being instead of a materialistic being (Hollowing my Reed). But public occasions, where friends get together to celebrate also bring hearts together, foster unity, allow for the expansion and spread of ideas and qualities, and raise spirits.
Unfortunately, one of my dear friends wasn’t able to make it to either festivity due to sickness. So after leaving the delightful BBQ I made it to her house to share prayers just before sunset. After several prayers, I wound up staying into the evening, listening to her tales of how prayer has effected her throughout her life. I didn’t tell her I’d blog about our conversation, so I won’t give any details, but know that God listens, and there are people that can testify to that. I’d encourage you to talk to people in your community about times prayer has been a catalyst in their story.
The following night, I lit a candle, vowing to pray over it for my friend’s good health until it was burnt up. I wanted to make my prayer more ceremonial, in hopes that it would increase my focus and I would be able to pray with easy sincerity. It worked, I recited the long healing prayer with such force, I swear it was not my voice intoning it. However, if I were to do it again, I would use a small candle. I prayed for over an hour, and the candle was only 1/10th melted. I called it a night, feeling content in my act.
Which brings me to my final point. God has given me a gift in the prayer above, (or it’s effect on me, or both). But it is my responsibility to continue my journey of prayerfulness. So what can I continue to do?
Firstly, I can do what I can to make my environment reflect a prayerful attitude, like I mentioned above.
Also, I fell out of the habit of carrying my prayer book with me after I downloaded the app. But having a physical reminder with me is useful in bringing prayer into my life in unexpected times and places. So it’s with me always again.
I also taped a nighttime prayer next to my bed.
And I’m still looking for ways to live a more prayerful life! So please comment with your suggestions or things that have worked for you, and of course, any stories that go along with it!
A Half Hollow Reed