God is All-Knowing and All-Seeing, and knows what we want. We pray not for God’s sake, but because praying nourishes our souls. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that prayer brings life to our souls. Just like we must eat each day, we converse with God every day, praying not only for ourselves, for for those around us and for humanity.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that if we pray for something that is in agreement with Divine wisdom, God will grant us what we pray for. But sometimes we may ask for things that will harm us, and God, in His wisdom, does not fulfill these wishes. We must be confident that He will always do what is best for us.
Prayers/readings for study
“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.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá teaches Lua Getsinger about the importance of her morning prayer. “And there is that precious little anecdote about Lua Getsinger, one of American’s earliest Bahá’ís, when she was visiting at the home of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. ‘She had been in a great hurry that morning, and was scurrying to breakfast without having had her usual morning prayer. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá met her in the hall and looked at her with a penetrating glance. Then He said, “Lua, you must never eat material food in the morning until you have had spiritual food.” (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 150)
Drawings #9 (“O Son of Man! Humble thyself…”), #10 (“Be thou happy and well pleased…”), or #20 (“Verily, I supplicate God…”) from Book 3, Grade 1. Although the quotes are different, the drawings are still related.
Have the children divide a piece of paper into two sections. In the first section, have them draw someone who is weak from hunger. In the second section, have them draw someone who is nourished, healthy and full of strength.
After having the children stretch in their squares, ask them to pretend to lift imaginary heavy objects, sprint towards the finish line in a race, climb up a tree, and so on, showing that they are full of strength. Next, ask them to perform the same actions, but this time pretending that they are hungry and weak. Finally, tell them that they have been given food and are beginning to feel strong again, and ask them to repeat the same actions one more time.
“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.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
At the dinner table He spoke of His gratitude for the blessings of God and the importance of assisting the weak and poor. He was asked, `How is it that the desires of some people are achieved while others are not?’ The gist of the Master’s response was:
What conforms with divine decree will be realized. In addition, good intentions and sound thoughts attract confirmations. The desires of human beings are endless. No matter what level a human being reaches, he can still attain higher ones, so he is always making effort and desiring more. He can never find peace but through effort and resignation, so that, notwithstanding all efforts in worldly affairs, the human heart remains free and happy. He neither becomes proud on attaining wealth and position nor becomes dejected on losing them. This station can be attained only through the power of faith. (Mahmud’s Diary)