Reflections on the Short Obligatory Prayer

Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#1
I have now been praying the short obligatory Prayer for like two months and I would like to share what I feel and think, and know from you what you feel and think. I will do it going sentence by sentence, just out of a personal preference, but please let me know in your own words what you experience, how you do it, etc.


I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.


I bear witness...

The Prayer is as intimate as it can get. It starts with me as individual and ends referring to God. To bear witness implies that the words you are going to say reflect your personal, first-hand thoughts and feelings. It is not because I want to meet the expectations of my parents, friends at the Baha'i community or Bahá'u'llá Himself. I am doing it out of my own will and from my own unique perspective, like a witness in a court.​

...O my God...

Again, the first reference to God is intensely personal. Although it wouldn't be wrong to refer to Abraham's God, Jesus's Father, Muhammad's Allah, I am using the term "My God", referring to He who dwells in the tabernacle of my heart.​


...that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.

The first thing I bear witness of is the purpose of my own existence. While all minerals plants and animals bear unconscious witness of the Attributes of God, only intelligent beings like men are expected to know and worship God.
And even among all million of my fellow men, each one with his own way to approach and worship God, it is the particular perspective of this specific man, me, who counts for this prayer.​

I testify, at this moment,


Now the prayer, already intimate on regards to the entities involved (me and God), emphasize the connection with the present moment. It is only in the "now" of conciousness that I can worship God. I must forget for a moment all my concerns about the future, all my guilt and worries about the past, and focus on this moment.​

to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

The prayer marks my place in the universe very clearly. Many times I live under the illusion that I can do and achieve and do whatever I want. In this prayer I become aware that I can't. Many other times, I live under the illusion that I cannot achieve anything. This prayer then reminds me that there is One Almighty. Connected to Him, I can do wonderful things.

Same with wealth. Separated from God and trapped in the illusion of self, I do not truly own or control anything: money, properties, information, my own body! Furthermore, sometimes I seemed to be controlled and owned by them. However, connected with God, material possessions accomplish their mission: they help me to develop myself and to serve others, which makes me realize that I am the richest man on Earth.​

There is none other God but Thee,

This sentence drags me out, for a moment, from the world of fantasies that I build around me. Fantasies that make me treat as transcendent things that are in reality unstable, perishable, and dependent on other conditions . This includes money, fame, body image, health, work, and even relationships.​

the Help in Peril,

I cannot escape from peril. God does not promise to eliminate risks for me: they are essential part of my learning experience here on earth. But I can expect, though, Help from Him to sort them out.
There is indeed no other source of Help but the Sun of Truth. When we address problems under the light of this sun (e.g. when I get realistic) I make use of my rational soul and The Holy Spirit. If the problem happens to have a solution, I will praise Him. If it proves not to have one, I will praise Him anyway, because having known that my problem has no solution will help me to endure it. The only way for me to avoid the Help in Peril is to give in to fantasies... to try to obscure the Sun of Truth with my thumb. It is in those cases where Reality runs over me.​


the Self-Subsisting

The prayer starts with myself, recognizing that I subsist only by God, and ends with God, recognizing that She subsists by Herself. God does not need me to exist. Whatever I want to make of my existence ( a talented employee, a fair employer, a loving father, a loyal friend) is by recognizing and connecting myself to the Self-Subsisting​
 
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Aug 2014
1,374
Blue Planet
#2
Very very beautiful camachoe. thanks a lot. it is so complete I cannot add any really important things to it. There is only one point I always think about when reciting the short obligatory prayer. at this point:

Thou hast created me to "know thee" and to "worship thee"
and when I reach this part, I always pause a little and feel a little ashamed in front of God. I think of all the things I do in my daily life; the things which are very important to me, but some of them I do with zero attention; some of them I do not do to "know God and to worship God" and that is not being faithful to the goal of our creation. What I more learn from this part is that if God has created us to know Him and to worship Him and this is the reason why we are here, then all the actions of our lives, at each moment, can be a means to know and worship Him. I can drink a glass of water and understand something about God and worship Him. I can breath and worship Him, I can see a flower and worship Him. God has created us only for this reason; how good it will be if we do not waste a minute on this path.
 
Dec 2012
199
Earth
#3
Brother Camachoe,

This is beautiful and very touching. It really deserves greater publicity among the friends because it should serve as a snapshot of the Faith from the eyes of a new believer.

Simply wonderful!

Earth
 
Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#4
What I more learn from this part is that if God has created us to know Him and to worship Him and this is the reason why we are here, then all the actions of our lives, at each moment, can be a means to know and worship Him. I can drink a glass of water and understand something about God and worship Him. I can breath and worship Him, I can see a flower and worship Him. God has created us only for this reason; how good it will be if we do not waste a minute on this path.
Thank you so much, Maryamr, for sharing the meaning this prayer brings to you! It is beautiful and I feel privileged to know your perspective.

Worship is indeed within the sweat of physical work, as well as within the quiet contemplation.

It reminds me a prophecy of Jesus, about the time when those worshiping God would not strive to do it in a given place (the temple of Jerusalem for Jews, or Mount Gerizim for Samaritans) but in a given state of mind. True believers would worship God "in spirit and truth". (John 4:23)

I think that time did not come with Christian dispensation (as attending mass in church was mandatory) or Islam (attendance to mosque is requiered). It is happening in Bahá'u'lláh dispensation.

While we have Houses of Worship, neither attendance is mandatory nor are they intended to make people do any thing ritual or follow any clergyman. Our houses of worship, in any case, simply facilitate a state of mind. I have not still gone to any of them (the closest for me being in Wilmette and Panama)... hope that will change some day.:)
 
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Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#5
Brother Camachoe,

This is beautiful and very touching. It really deserves greater publicity among the friends because it should serve as a snapshot of the Faith from the eyes of a new believer.

Simply wonderful!

Earth
Thank you, Earth.
I also feel connected to you as well in this "brotherhood", and deeply appreciate your insights.
 
Jul 2017
442
Olympia, WA, USA
#6
I have now been praying the short obligatory Prayer for like two months and I would like to share what I feel and think, and know from you what you feel and think. I will do it going sentence by sentence, just out of a personal preference, but please let me know in your own words what you experience, how you do it, etc.
What you wrote was beautiful... I am lucky if I even remember to say that prayer, let alone have any feelings towards God such as you do... I guess this is fess up week for me. ;-)

I am what you might call an agnostic Baha’i. I was never raised in any religion and I think that is the main reason I never developed and “feelings” towards God, who to me is just an entity I believe exists, nothing personal at all...
 
Jul 2017
302
Kettering, Ohio USA
#7
The part I emphasize in my prayer is the second sentence, where I express my humility before God. When I say my poverty and thy wealth i think of the poverty of my spiritual life compared to God, and the wealth that is available to me.
 
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Mar 2015
226
Bend area, Oregon
#8
Camochoe:

Thank you for sharing your reflections on the Short Obligatory Prayer. In response, I offer below some thoughts on knowing, loving, and worshiping the divine Reality.

From my limited perspective, the only God we can really “know” is that ancient, divine, and universal Reality known as the Primal Will, the First Mind (Intellect), the divine Command, the Word of God, the Most Great and Holy Spirit – that Reality of the Manifestations of God. We cannot “know” the Reality of the Essence of God. As humans, we have the spiritual responsibility to first strive to truly "know" that Primal Reality, that we might in turn truly "love" that Reality, that we might in turn truly "worship" that Reality. Unless one first comes to “know” something or someone, one cannot truly “love” that something or someone. And in this instance, if one first truly knows and has love for the Primal Reality then one can more adequately “worship” that divine Reality.

-LR
 
Mar 2015
226
Bend area, Oregon
#9
Offered below are some utterances of Baha’u’llah from His “Hidden Words” related to knowing, loving, and worshiping the Primal Reality:

“O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” (#1, Arabic)

“O Son of Man! The temple of being is My throne; cleanse it of all things, that there I may be established and there I may abide.” (#58, Arabic)

“O Son of Spirit! . . . Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.” (#13, Arabic)

“O Son of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the Pen of Glory.” (#7, Persian)

“O Son of Utterance! Thou art My stronghold; enter therein that thou mayest abide in safety. My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find Me near unto thee.” (#10, Arabic)

“O My Friend in Word! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.” (#26, Persian)

“O Son of Man! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee. . . . “ (#42, Arabic)

“O Son of Being! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.” (#59, Arabic)

“O Son of Dust! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.” (#27, Persian)

“O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.” (#4 Arabic)

“O Son of Man! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.” (#7, Arabic)

“O Son of Spirit! My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed. My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured.” (#20, Arabic)
 
Apr 2017
196
Mexico
#10
Thank you so much, Larry, for these insights.

I love Hidden Words with all my heart: to be honest, is the piece of Scriptures I have enjoyed the most out of everything I've read from His Blessed Beauty.

Indeed God is not just something "out there", but also "in here", and this is what I feel when praying. I feel I am not talking to someone in front of me. I feel inside His Ocean of Mercy.
 
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