Baha'i Obligatory Prayer

As Baha'is know, we have a daily obligatory prayer we are supposed to say. We can say the short, long, or medium versions (at noon, at night, and thrice a day, respectively) using our discretion. My uncle says he'd better say the noon version or he's forced to do the long version (the medium requires a morning prayer), but I can say I'm horrible at doing any of them right now, although that hasn't always been the case. Why the choice? My personal view is that Baha'u'llah said His laws applied to the whole world -- Muslims who love the daily prayer and become Baha'is would probably actually gravitate towards the Long or Medium versions because they were raised that way, whereas Western Baha'is raised in Judeo-Christian "pray on your knees at night" households.

I've performed, and I mean performed, the Long version a couple times in my life as best I could -- it includes a lot of movements I can't do holding the book very well, and putting that to memory would be a massive chore -- and I recall perhaps having done the Medium version three times once, at least, but I'm not a Muslim so I don't get it like Muslim-raised folks get it, having been trained as many of them are to pray five times a day. Thus, by giving us the choice, God has asked us to worship him in one of three ways that we feel most comfortable. He is a merciful God!

My uncle told me once as I recall that back in Haifa, Israel, where the Baha'i World Centre sits on 19 terraceses down the side of Mount Carmel, the Western and Eastern Baha'is would stay in separate sides of a pioneer temporary boarding house and the Eastern Baha'is, who were raised either as or among Muslims who were accustomed to praying five times a day with full prostrations, etc., would laugh as they watched Western Baha'is tried awkwardly but earnestly to say the long obligatory prayer.

I'll do my best to start saying my noon prayer, but right now my "best" is "horrible." At least I am noticing now (I noticed at 12:50 p.m.) and thinking of God and the prayer even if I didn't say it. And feeling a bit of remorse that I didn't open up my soul to God at the appointed time. That, at least, is progress.

At times in the past I've successfully said the Short prayer daily. It's my favorite, it's quite powerful to me, and I'm not going to kill myself saying the Long version if I fail because that's not a genuine, earnest effort brought on by desire but rather the quickest way to train yourself to feel bad about prayer. Baha'i writings are consistent in saying God doesn't give any regard whatsoever to false piety -- saying some words is not just an incantation, you also have to open your soul (assuming everyone has one, which I doubt sometimes) to receive the spiritual food you are essentially supposed to be seeking via prayer. My favorite prayer was said sitting on the floor without my shoes on the floor of the room that Abdu'l-Baha stayed in at the Green Acre Baha'i School in Eliot, Maine. My room was on the same floor -- I'd give anything to go back to Green Acre just to sit and pray on that floor again.

I've been dwelling a lot on how isolated I am overall in my life -- I go days seeing maybe only my roommate and maybe neighbor sometimes, and not having a family makes loneliness easy to succumb to. Reminding myself that trudging daily through this pathetic life isn't the only reason for my existence via the daily prayer did help me, I recall, and I believe it will again.

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