Posts Tagged ‘Baha’i’

A couple of days ago, I heard from a new reader of the blog, a woman named Fran who lives in North Carolina and is a member of the Baha’i faith. She came across one of my previous entries on Baha’i prayer beads and sent me a lovely comment, which I posted. In it, she mentioned that though she does not use prayer beads, she does have some favorite Baha’i prayers that she relies on. I wrote to her and asked if she would share some of them that might be suitable for prayer beads of all types. I got a terrific reply:

“I will be happy to share any prayers with you. In my opinion, anyone can pray any of the hundreds of revealed Baha’i prayers whether they call themselves Baha’is or not. ‘Abdu’l Baha (the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, [whose] name means ‘Servant of the Glory’) once said (paraphrasing) that many people may call themselves Baha’is but do not “behave” accordingly while others may not consider themselves Baha’is but in fact, are because of their behavior.

Prayer beads are certainly not a requirement. I have some but seldom use them. It is usually when one desires to say a certain prayer many, many times, like say 95 or 100 in some cases, that they use the prayer beads. If I understand correctly, prayer beads that Baha’is use are not used like a rosary might be used. I was never Catholic so I may not have my facts straight about how people use rosaries.

One of my favorite prayers is for tests and difficulties. It is a prayer revealed by the Bab (which in Persian means “The Gate”). It is short yet very sweet.

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God, say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding.” –The Bab

The more times a prayer is said, the more powerful it is, we are told.

Another prayer I say often is the short healing prayer:

“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” Baha’u’llah

There are two prayers revealed for children but many adults use these, too, because they are easy to memorize and can benefit one regardless of age.

“He is God! O God, my God! Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a pearl.”

O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”

I hope this is helpful. ”

I thought it was very helpful! Fran also recommended a couple of Baha’i prayer books. I especially loved what she says about it is one’s behavior that makes one a Baha’i or not – and not whether one adopts the label. I think this could – and should – be said of people of any and all faiths: that we shall know them by their deeds, and not by what they call themselves.

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Some Baha’i Prayers

Last month, at the Religion Newswriters Association convention in Washington, D.C., I visited the booth of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Communication. They had a small book of Baha’i prayers titled Illumine My Heart: Baha’i Prayers for Every Occasion. I explained how I have a blog about prayer beads and that I had written about Baha’i prayer beads and included some prayers and asked if I might have a copy of this book to share some more prayers with my readers. The folks in the booth could not have been nicer and said, “Of course!”

The book is divided into chapters with prayers for different stages of life and different needs: spiritual growth, healing, children, marriage, peace and unity. And while the book has no specific prayer for Baha’i prayer beads, I have pulled out some that I think would work on all sorts of prayer beads – Catholic, Anglican, Pearls of Life, malas and subhas for sure.

Here are some that I have been using this last week. If the antiquated language bothers you, trade out the “thees” and “thous” for something more modern. Mix ’em and match ’em on whatever set of beads you use.

For Our Father (Catholic) , Cruciform (Anglican) or other single beads:

Oh God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and brilliant star.

He is God! O God my God! Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a pearl.

O God, give me a new life at every moment, in order that I may remain steadfast in Thy love.

Make firm our steps, O Lord, in Thy path and strengthen Thou our hearts in Thine obedience.

And try this one on a set of decades (10 beads, Catholic rosary), or combine a few for a set of weeks (7 beads; Anglican rosary):

1) O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit

2) Purify my heart

3) Illumine my powers.

4) I lay all my affairs in Thy hand.

5) Thou art my Guide and my Refuge.

6) I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being.

7) O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me.

8) I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

9) O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself.

10) I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.

All of these prayers are attributed to ‘Abdu’l-Baha. He was the son of the founder of the Baha’i faith, a man named Baha’u’llah.

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bahai-star.jpgI feel like starting with Baha’is and their prayer beads. Why? Don’t know. Not the oldest religion or the oldest prayer beads. Not the newest, either. Maybe I just feel like going alphabetically. No, I think I saw a picture of a set of Baha’i prayer beads as I was web-surfing the other day and I just felt like starting there. And I’ve had enough Christian prayer beads and rosaries after six weeks of Lent. And Baha’is are a good place to start because it is an extremely inclusive religion – they have never met a major prophet they didn’t like.

So, what is the Baha’i faith? It was founded about 150 years ago in the land that was once called Persia and is now known as Iran. Like many religions, it was founded by someone who had an extreme mystical experience that forever changed his life. The founder of the Baha’i faith was a Persian nobleman named Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh claimed to be a messenger of God, a continuation of – not a repudiation of – the line of God’s prophets that began with Abraham (Judaism) and continued through Muhammad (Islam). His main message was that there is only one God and that all the other prophets and their followers were all of His children who should be united in their love for Him and for each other. I often think of the Baha’i faith as the ultimate feel-good religion (and I mean that as a very good thing).

Who are the Baha’is? Relatively speaking, their numbers are small. Adherents. com lists 7.6 million worldwide, with perhaps 700,000 in the U.S. But their blanket is quite wide, with Baha’is today coming from more than 2,100 different ethnic and tribal groups, according to Baha’i International. The majority of Baha’is live in Iran, where many are persecuted for their faith.

Bahai’s have about the best description of prayer I have ever come across – they see themselves “in conversation with God,” with whom they are “speaking a language of love.” One of the ways they pray was spelled out by Bahá’u’lláh in his Kitab-i-Aqdas:

It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat “Alláh-u-Abhá” ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, he established Himself upon the thrones of His Names.

Some industrious Baha’i invented prayer beads that would aid in keeping track of the 95 repetitions of God’s name. One setbahai-prayer-beads-2.jpg is a circle of 95 beads, with the first 19 either separated from or different from the rest. The second type is usually a strand, rather than a circlet, with three parts – a line of 5 beads, a transition bead, and a line of 19 beads. The strand is often finished with a tassel, called a “siyyid,” and the nine-point star that is the symbol of the Baha’i faith. The website 95 Prayers suggests the devotee sit with the 19 beads in his or her dominant hand and the 5 beads in the other hand. At each repetition of “Allah-u-Abha,” the fingers move down the strand of 19 until it hits the tassel. Then, the fingers of the non-dominant hand move down one bead on the line of 5, and the process is begun again. 5×19=95.bahai-prayer-beads-1.jpg

In a forthcoming entry, we’ll talk with a Baha’i about their use of prayer beads. Until then . . . happy beading and praying.

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