8. Obligatory Prayer

How many obligatory prayers are there?

Who should say them?

What is their importance?

What are two requirements for saying the obligatory prayers?

What goal can you set related to obligatory prayers?

  • Assignment: Reading

Read the compilation, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting. The Universal House of Justice…determined that it is imperative for all Baha’is “to deepen their awareness of the blessings conferred by the laws which directly foster the devotional life of the individual and, thus, of the community.” Among these laws are obligatory prayer and fasting which have been characterized by the Blessed Beauty as “two wings to man’s life. (from introduction)

  • Assignment: Practice

Focus on one of the four that you are not already doing.

Say one daily.

Say with more pure-hearted devotion.

Memorize more of them.

Say all three sometime in the next week.

  • Living a Spiritual Life: Unit 8. Obligatory Prayer in unformatted text

 Rodney H. Clarken, Copyright © 2011

Module objective

Appreciate, understand and practice daily obligatory prayer.

What is  the essential requisite for spiritual growth on prayer?

1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

What is prayer?

Silent or spoken petition made to God or a god. Prayer has been practiced in all religions throughout history. Its characteristic postures (bowing the head, kneeling, prostration) and position of the hands (raised, outstretched, clasped) signify an attitude of submission and devotion. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)

What is obligatory prayer?

A special prayer required by religious law. Bahá’u’lláh specified three obligatory prayers for Bahá’ís to use, one of which must be said each day. The choice of which prayer to say is left to the individual. Ablutions are required as part of obligatory prayers. (www.bahai.us/glossary)

From where does obligatory prayer come?

In Arabic, there are several words for prayer. The word “salat”, which appears here in the original, refers to a particular category of prayers, the recitation of which at specific times of the day is enjoined on the believers. To differentiate this category of prayers from other kinds, the word has been translated as “obligatory prayer”. (cont.)

Bahá’u’lláh states that “obligatory prayer and fasting

occupy an exalted station in the sight of God” (Q and A 93). Abdu’l-Bahá affirms that such prayers are “conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one’s face towards God and expressing devotion to Him”, and that through these prayers “man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of his heart, and attaineth spiritual stations”. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Note 3,  p. 166)

Bahá’u’lláh clarifies that the individual is permitted

to choose any one of the three Obligatory Prayers (Q and A 65). Other provisions are elucidated in Questions and Answers, numbers 66, 67, 81, and 82. The details of the law concerning obligatory prayer are summarized in section IV.A.1.-17. of the Synopsis and Codification. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Note 3, p. 166)

What are some details of obligatory prayers?

should be offered individually.

ill, under 15 and over 70, women in course exempted.

should be preceded with washing the hands and face in preparation for prayer.

face the Qiblih, the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

should be said according to the directives. (summary from The Kitab-i-Aqdas)

Name as many details from the previous slide as possible?

Check your answers by going back to the previous slide.

What is special about obligatory prayers?

…the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones… (Shoghi Effendi, 1/4/36)

What is the wisdom of the movements in these prayers?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá indicates that “in every word and movement of the Obligatory Prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain”. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Note 4, p. 167)

What else?

Shoghi Effendi explains that the few simple directions given by Bahá’u’lláh for the recital of certain prayers not only have a spiritual significance but that they also help the individual “to fully concentrate when praying and meditating”. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Note 4, p. 167)

What if we do not understand?

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. (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 6/24/49)

How can I appreciate them?

These daily [obligatory] prayers have been endowed with a special potency which only those who regularly recite them can adequately appreciate. The friends should therefore endeavor to make daily use of these prayers, whatever the peculiar circumstances and conditions of their life.” (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 2/23/39)

The following quotes come from

 The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, (Abdul-Baha, VII and XI). This is just a brief sample of the 21 wonderful and inspiring quotes by Baha’u’llah and 27 by Abdul-Baha in this compilation. You are encouraged to read the whole document.

O thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked about the wisdom of obligatory prayer.

Know thou that such prayer is mandatory and binding. Man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from observing the prayer unless he is incapable of performing it or some great obstacle interveneth. The wisdom of obligatory prayer is this:

That it causeth a connection

between the servant and the True One, because at that time man with all his heart and soul turneth his face towards the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and companionship. For a lover, there is no greater pleasure than to converse with his beloved, and for a seeker, there is no greater bounty than intimacy with the object of his desire.

It is the greatest longing of every soul

who is attracted to the Kingdom of God to find time to turn with entire devotion to his Beloved, so as to seek His bounty and blessing and immerse himself in the ocean of communion, entreaty and supplication. Moreover, obligatory prayer and fasting produce awareness and awakening in man, and are conducive to his protection and preservation from tests. (VII)

Obligatory prayer causeth the heart

to become attentive to the Divine kingdom. One is alone with God, converseth with Him, and acquireth bounties. Likewise, if one performeth the Obligatory Prayer with his heart in a state of utmost purity, he will obtain the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, and this will entirely obliterate love of self. (XI)

Obligatory prayer is the very foundation of the Cause 

of God. Through it joy and vitality infuse the heart. Even if every grief should surround Me, as soon as I engage in conversing with God in obligatory prayer, all My sorrows disappear and I attain joy and gladness. (XIV)

…Obligatory Prayer instilleth new life in him. (IX)

List 3 points from the previous slides.

Possible points from the previous slides.

Not excused unless incapable or prevented.

 Causes a connection with True One

 No greater bounty

Obtain confirmations

Obliterates love of self

Brings joy, vitality and new life

Other possible points.

Has special potency, greater effectiveness and power.

Every word and movement has wisdom, spiritual significance.

Must persevere in prayer to witness its wisdom, blessing, power.

Recite regularly, use daily

Who is exempted from the obligatory prayers?

Who is exempted from the obligatory prayers?

Those under 15 and over 70 years of age

Those of ill health

Women while menstruating

What is the short obligatory prayer?

TO BE RECITED ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, AT NOON

“I bear witness, 0 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.”

Are there other obligations?

Bahá’í’s are also obliged to repeat the Greatest Name in Arabic–Alláh-u-Abhá, which means God is Most Glorious) 95 times a day while sitting. Like the obligatory prayers, ablutions are done before and you face the Qiblih while saying.

Concluding exercises

The following exercises are to help you consolidate and assess your learning in this module. Try to answer first from your memory, then you may go back to the presentation or the next slide to get some ideas. Please add more of your own as you review the program and reflect on your learning and experience.

Questions on obligatory prayers.

How many obligatory prayers are there?

Who should say them?

What is their importance?

What are two requirements for saying the obligatory prayers?

What goal can you set related to obligatory prayers?

Question 1: How many obligatory prayers are there?

Three: 1. Long, 2. Medium and 3. Short.

The Prayer for the Dead, the only Bahai congregational prayer, is also an obligatory prayer, but is only said for the dead. The saying of the Greatest Name 95 times daily would also be considered an obligation, but not an obligatory prayer.

Question 2: Who should say them?

All except:

Children under the age of 15.

Those that are of ill-health.

Those that are older than 70.

Women who are menstruating

Question 3: What is their importance?

greater effectiveness and potency; the most important kind of prayer.[1][3]

develops of humility and devotion

personal spiritual obligation with rewards and penalties.[1]

acquire bounties, power and confirmations.

Question 4: What are two requirements for saying the obligatory prayers?

is to be preceded by ablutions, the cleaning of the hands and face

turn to the Qiblih, which is the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh when saying [3]    

said during prescribed times with prescribed movements

Question 5: What goal can you set related to obligatory prayers?

Possible goals:

To say a least one daily.

To memorize at least one.

To say all three.

To say with more pure-hearted devotion.

To help others appreciate them.

 To study and read more about them.

Where can I find the obligatory prayers and more information?

They may all be found in Bahai prayer books or online at many different sites, including reference.bahai.org, bahaiprayers.org and The Kitab-i-Aqdas

For more information on obligatory prayers, go to bahai-library.com and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obligatory_Bah%C3%A1’%C3%AD_prayers

Assignment: Reading

Read the compilation, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting. The Universal House of Justice…determined that it is imperative for all Baha’is “to deepen their awareness of the blessings conferred by the laws which directly foster the devotional life of the individual and, thus, of the community.” Among these laws are obligatory prayer and fasting which have been characterized by the Blessed Beauty as “two wings to man’s life. (from introduction)

Assignment: Practice

Focus on one of the four that you are not already doing.

Say one daily.

Say with more pure-hearted devotion.

Memorize more of them.

Say all three sometime in the next week.

You may proceed to the next module

9. Reading

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