Tired of the Obligatory Prayer

Oct 2010
Interesting topic? Lately I've realized that like, if I didn't have to, then I probably wouldn't say the Obligatory prayer each day. I'll be sitting in my room and it'll be like "ugh the sun's setting, time to go pray"... now to me that seems like a problem. Shouldn't I want to say the obligatory prayer? I mean each day I painstakingly (not that it's painful or anything, maybe that's the wrong adjective) get up to go wash my hands and face before saying the short obligatory prayer. And I'm just tired of saying it. It's the same thing every day, so monotonous. I know there's a medium and a long one, but the long one is just so... long, and the medium one doesn't quite fit my schedule on most days. So I feel pretty confined to the short one, and I guess I'm not even patient enough for that, let alone one of the longer ones. What do you think? Praying, I feel like, is something that a true Baha'i should want to embrace. I guess I'm just too young and impatient to enjoy sitting quietly in prayer?
Sep 2009
New Jersey, USA
You're probably not alone in feeling this way, Celerity, but it is the nature of the Word of God that it's better for us to bend ourselves to it, even if at first (or for a long while) it doesn't match our immediate inclinations.


Aug 2010
"O thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked the wisdom of prayer. Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory, and man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from performing the prayer unless he be mentally unsound, or an insurmountable obstacle prevent him. The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state (i.e., prayer) man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing; that is why with every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for His mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity.

Beside all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests. The obligatory prayer is revealed from the Supreme Pen and is translated in America. Ask for it from the believers and use it."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 683)
Jun 2006
Making the Obligatory Prayer more interesting!

“These daily obligatory prayers, together with a few other specific ones, such as the Healing Prayer, the Tablet of Aḥmad, have been invested by Bahá’u’lláh with a special potency and significance, and should therefore be accepted as such and be recited by the believers with unquestioning faith and confidence, that through them they may enter into a much closer communion with God, and identify themselves more fully with His laws and precepts.”

—From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi

From the Kitab-i-Aqdas:

. Turning to the Qiblih is mandatory while reciting the Obligatory Prayers. 3. The Obligatory Prayers are binding on men and women on attaining the age of maturity, which is fixed at 15. 4. Exemption from offering the Obligatory Prayers is granted to: a. Those who are ill. b. Those who are over 70. c. Women in their courses provided they perform their ablutions and repeat a specifically revealed verse 95 times a day. 5. The Obligatory Prayers should be offered individually. 6. The choice of one of the three Obligatory Prayers is permissible. 7. By "morning", "noon" and "evening", mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the intervals between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset. 8. The recital of the first (long) Obligatory Prayer, once in twenty-four hours is sufficient. 9. It is preferable to offer the third (short) Obligatory Prayer while standing. 10. Ablutions: a. Ablutions must precede the ...

The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page 165: 146

I guess I'm just too young and impatient to enjoy sitting quietly in prayer?

Actually as you may know when we recite the short obligatory prayer it can be most anywhere we have some privacy and usually it would involve standing up not sitting! First washing your hands and face for the ablutions and then figuring our where to face Bahji..depending on where you live on the globe.. after that, reciting to yourself a few lines of the prayer..

For a change maybe learn the short obligatory prayer in Arabic..but note ablutions are obligatory and turning to the Qiblah!

and enjoy this:

YouTube - Short Obligatory Prayer

You can recite it by music!
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Sep 2010

I think any feeling or thought is okay, b/c it is what one does that counts. Feelings and thoughts are stepping stones to action or choices. Athra, I think you are absolutely correct to consult about an idea you have about yourself. If you don't put something out there to consider alone or with others how does one then grow? Accepting that it exists and has a effect on you is how you make choices to do something. I have had trouble saying prayers and repeated the same memorized several over and over. I finally acknowledged that I was not praying willlingly enough, prayed to be able to pray more sincerely, and it did happen to happen. I pray and read at least some sacred text when I get up and before I go to bed. It took some YEARS to get that firmly in place, but I did get there. It's a journey not a destination.

Okay, I don't WASH my face with soap, I wet my face and hands rubbing sometime and then dry them with a towel. I put very wet hands over my eyes. I don't think I'm very reverent about that much of the time. I have let it become a routine. Hmmmmmm, however lately the prayers have meant more, I've been having very spiritual dreams, and feel more at peace when there are health issues, I've sold my house, the house I wanted is too much, and I don't have a place to live yet. That is considerable progress to me.

Okay. How about input on ablutions as well!
Sep 2010
United Kingdom
Hi Celerity :wub

It must be very tiring for you Celer. I think it is part of your religion for dedicatory reasons. If one has the strength to overcome their tiredness and fit God into their busy lives - that is the task. Being religious isn't easy. We are called to much self-sacrifice and dedication. Obligatory Prayer exists to help you overcome your weaknesses. If we are to follow God we must be willing to do things we rather wouldn't do. It is in this way that we can grow spiritually and that true belief is discerned. There are those who cry 'Jesus!' or 'Baha!' or 'Allah!' but who are believers merely in name. Faith is nothing but a comfort to them, with no exertion, effort, self-sacrifice or dedication on their part. That is selfish and hollow religion. As a Christian I am called to pray everyday. However we do not have obligatory prayers outwith Mass in my religion, nor do we have allotted times at which we must pray. The lack of obligatory prayers in Christianity has both negative and positive results. On the plus side, it keeps us away from being Pharisees, who rigidly adhere to meaningless social laws and customs - obligatory prayer, fasting, dietary laws - but who do not accompany these things, which in themselves are useless, with good works and love for all humanity. On the negative side, it can lead to laxity and laziness. God can become forgotten in the flurry of our lives without an allotted time of prayer. So my view is this: It is good and edifying that the Baha'i Faith allotts specific times of day in which you pray. This will help you sacrifice for God and keep God firmly in your daily life. It will prevent you from laxity and forgetfulness of the Divine in your life. However I would not, my self, like the idea of repeating the same obligatory words every single day. I applaud and encourage obligatory 'time' but obligatory 'words' would bore me as well. I like to pray to God and communicate with him in my own personal way, with my own words. I feel it is more heartfelt and sincere - less ritualistic, less robotic. That way my prayer does not become a 'chore', a daily ritual like ironing my clothes, brushing my teeth or changing my pillowsheets that I do day-in-day out automatically, without any thought or connection. That is false Pharisaic 'faith', not heartfelt, genuine faith that stems from the heart. It is this that you are lacking at the moment - your prayer life has fallen into the trap of the Pharisees. Its all about 'duty', I must do this because it is written in the Kitab-I-Aqdas, not because I want to do it out of love and devotion to God. Unlike the Pharisees however, who in their blind delusion thought this mundane word-for-word living-out of Jewish Law would offer them justification before God, you have noticed that something is amiss. You have noticed the fault in your prayer life. My advice? Read the words Baha'u'llah wrote. Why are you supposed to say this prayer? Are you offering praise to God? Are you asking him to bless your day? Don't just recite the words, let them sink into you. Baha'u'llah said, 'My Words are an ocean' - they are deep and meaningful, not some mechanical set of phrases one should blindly recite without any meditation or understanding of their meaning. You are supposed to recite the obligatory prayer not because of the words but because of the meaning underlying the words, what those words should be communicating to you about your relationship to God. Lets take a look at the short prayer. I have just looked at it this minute, never having seen it before. I am going to go through it by-by-bit with a commentary on its meaning and what you should be thinking in your head when you recite it:

I bear witness, O my God Your prayerlife should begin with an acknowledgement of the duty you owe to your creator. Why do you owe duty to God?

that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. Because God has created you a sentient being who is capable to respond to his love and honour him as your Father. Your prayer must thus move from acnowledgement of one's duty to God to an understanding that you live and breathe and have being in this moment only through his act of creation. Is that not an awe-inspiring thought? The only reason you or anything exists is because of something else, this Higher Divine Intelligence who loves you and wants to be one with you. How can you return this love, how can you ever thank him enough for feeding you with the breath of life coursing through your veins and blood? By recognizing that you must worship him.

I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. Now that you have understood, in prayer, that the only reason you exist is because of God and his all-empowering love for you, how should that make you feel? Powerless, lowly and submissive to his will. The next stage of your prayer is humility. You have moved from Acknowledgement of your Duty to God, which stems frm his creating you to know and to love him, which has led you to an understanding of just how powerless and in debt to his mercy you truly are. You are poor and in need of the vast wealth of his love and you now are safe in the knowledge that you will receive that love, because as you already stated above he "hast created me to know him and to worship him".

There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Now we come to the end of your communion with God for this morning's obligation, with a declaration and understanding that there is only one God alone who exists wholly of himself, by himself and through himself - who has no need of you but desires to know you solely out of the abundance of love which he has for you as his precious creation and child. Would such a being be anything other than your, 'Help in Peril'? You end your prayer with a petition to God to be your help in peril. When you recite this final phrase, 'help in peril' call to mind a petition which you desire from God, something you want him to help you with in your life.

If you wish I could do the same with the Medium Prayer, so that the meaning underlying the words becomes clear to you in all its richness and potency, as opposed to just plain recital of the words themselves in a robotic manner, which is truly devoid of meaning for either you or God. You need to devote yourself to prayer with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength and all your soul. Only then will you sink into the 'ocean' of Baha'u'llah's words. Right now you are dangling your toes at the edge of the water because your mind is about to rush off elsewhere and get caught up in your busy life. That is why it has become a 'chore' to you with no spiritual rewards.

Hope that helps :wub
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Aug 2010
Here are 2 quotations which are very specific to what you are asking, almost as if Baha'u'llah and Shoghi Effendi are speaking to you across time.

"Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide....Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Read ye the sacred verses in such measure that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency. Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend."

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 73)

"It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Bahá'ís, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Bahá'í children who see these things practiced in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Bahá'u'lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1949)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 342)


Aug 2010
"He would advise you to only use the short mid-day Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation if God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.

"Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are -- like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1949: Spiritual foundations: Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 464)