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Difficulties, Obstacles, Hardships and Adversities

O Divine Providence! Perplexing difficulties have arisen and formidable obstacles have appeared. O Lord! Remove these difficulties and show forth the evidences of Thy might and power. Ease these hardships and smooth our way along this arduous path. O Divine Providence! The obstacles are unyielding, and our toil and hardship are conjoined with a myriad adversities. There is no helper save Thee, and no succourer except Thyself. We set all our hopes on Thee, and commit all our affairs unto Thy care. Thou art the Guide and the Remover of every difficulty, and Thou art the Wise, the Seeing, and the Hearing.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Twenty-six Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of His passing, number 6)

We went for a long time with the prayers we grew up with in the Faith and have recently been gifted with a steady stream of newly translated prayers, both by Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá.  If you haven’t seen them, you can find them here.

Several years ago, I was told that what had been translated so far was the mystic teachings, proofs, laws and administrative order, and that what was left was mostly encouragement.  I was really in need of encouragement at that time, and impatient to find prayers that related to my life and spoke directly to my mind and heart.  This prayer does just that.

Yes, we’re told to “remember my days” in reference to all of the tests Bahá’u’lláh went through; and yes, we’re told to read the Dawnbreakers as a way to “alleviate stress”, but these Manifestations and martyrs are so far above me that I couldn’t relate to their struggles and tests.  But when `Abdu’l-Bahá talks about perplexing difficulties, unyielding obstacles, hardships and myriad adversities, He’s talking my language, and gets my attention.

Embedded in this prayer is the solution:

  • Remember that God is my Guide and the Remover of every difficulty
  • Believe that there is no helper and succourer save God
  • Believe that God has the might and power to remove all my difficulties
  • Ask God to remove them
  • Trust that He can ease these hardships
  • Trust that He can smooth the way as I walk along this arduous path He’s set before me
  • Commit all my affairs unto His care
  • Trust that He is Wise and that He hears and sees everything I’m going through

It’s one thing to remember and believe; it’s another to ask for help and trust it will be there and yet another to commit all of my affairs to His care, not just my hardships and trouble.

Remembering and believing that God’s got my back and can help me through my tests, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Overcoming Depression

Mrs. H:  How can I attain to greater stability? I feel terribly discouraged and depressed at times?

Master:  Whenever you feel depressed, go alone into a secret chamber, read one of the Hidden Words and with utmost supplication, beg of Baha’u’llah, to impart to you that happiness which is essential for the future.  Pray with great humbleness:

O God!  Free me from these fetters.  Release me from all these toils.  Make me pure and sanctified.  Illumine me.  Fill my heart with Thy love and attach me to Thyself, so that I may become a captive to Thy love.   May I not seek ought but Thee!  May I not search but for Thy love and may I walk always in Thy path!

Then you will attain to a glorious state – then you will obtain a condition which you would not exchange for the whole world.

Mrs. H:  My great desire is to have more faith.

Master:  This very prayer will bring you the pearl of great price.  (Conversation between the Master and Mrs. Henlay, Feb. 10, 1913, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in France, p. 358)

I love how synchronicity works.  This week, one of my readers asked:

I am interested in perspectives on the healing of the mental and spiritual stresses placed on so many by the forced isolation caused by the pandemic.

While I was pondering how to respond, another reader sent the quote above, thinking I could possibly use it.  Indeed I could!  I was struggling with an issue of injustice that was causing a great deal of anxiety and depression when I finally had a chance to read it, and it helped me in that moment and inspired me to use it to help my reader.

I love the Hidden Words and at one time, had them all memorized.  I used to love playing Spiritual Pursuit, because I always got those questions right.  I’m not going to tell you which one I chose, because it will be different for everyone, but I did put my finger in randomly, and remembered why I loved reading them so much.

There is no prison worse than depression (which I like to think of as self-pity), because when I recognize I’m in the prison of self, I remember I put myself in there and the Bahá’í prayers and Writings are the keys and my “get out of jail free” card.

Knowing there is a simple prayer to remove depression and increase faith, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Be Happy

 

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A New Prayer for Parents

O Divine Providence!  Immerse the father and mother of this servant of Thy Threshold in the ocean of Thy forgiveness, and purge and sanctify them from every sin and transgression.  Grant them Thy forgiveness and mercy, and bestow upon them Thy gracious pardon.  Thou, verily, art the Pardoner, the Ever-Forgiving, the Bestower of abundant grace.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Twenty-six Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of His passing, number 13)

When I was first looking at the effects of my childhood trauma, I knew I had to forgive but I wasn’t ready yet.  The best I could do was to ask God to forgive them for me.  Because the Bab had told us that “It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents” and that “Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!”  (The Báb, Lights of Guidance, p. 230).  Recognizing that praying for my parents was in my best interest, I was highly motivated to memorize the prayer for parents and say it frequently, though I’m still not remembering to to it after every prayer!

When I was looking at the newly released prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, I was happy to see a new prayer for parents and wanted to compare the two.

In the earlier prayer we’re really just asking God to “submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace”, but in the new prayer we’re asking so much more:

  • immerse them . . . in the ocean of Thy forgiveness
  • purge and sanctify them from every sin and transgression
  • grant them Thy forgiveness and mercy
  • bestow upon them Thy gracious pardon

For this abuse survivor, this asks so much more from God, specific to what I would want for them and for myself.  I think I’ll memorize this one too.

Knowing how to ask God to forgive them and me, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Money and Choices

We ask God to . . . raise them unto a station where the world and the lordship thereof shall not turn them aside from looking toward the Supreme Horizon, and where [anxiety for] gaining a livelihood and [providing] household goods shall not divert them from [the thought of] that day whereon the mountains shall be made like carpets . . . By My Lord, were I given the choice between the glory and opulence, the wealth and dignity, the ease and luxury wherein they are, and the distress and affliction wherein I am, I would certainly choose that wherein I am today, and I would not now exchange one atom of these afflictions for all that hath been created in the kingdom of production! Were it not for afflictions in the way of God My continuance would have no sweetness for Me, nor would My life profit Me.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet to the Shah of Persia in A Traveler’s Narrative, p. 181)

In this prayer we’re asking God to raise us to a station.  What is a station?  In the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, (p. 107), Shoghi Effendi tells us that “if to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye the glory of that station were to be unveiled to mankind, every beholder would be consumed away in his longing to attain it.”  So because we’d be “consumed away in our longing to attain it”, it seems important to pay attention to what comes next.

The station we’re being called to here seems to be asking us to make a choice.  Do we want power and prestige (the world and the lordship thereof) or do we want to look towards the Supreme Horizon?  Do we want to look at the anxieties of today or where we want to be for all of eternity?  Bahá’u’lláh then clarifies – do we want glory, opulence, wealth, dignity, ease and luxury or do we want distress and affliction?  Of course we want a life of ease!  I think Bahá’u’lláh is telling us here it’s the wrong choice, though.  I can’t even see a “both/and”.  He doesn’t want me to exchange even one atom of my afflictions for what I perceive to be an easier life.  He’s more interested in where I will rest for eternity.  He wants me to have an eternity of sweetness.

Knowing there are benefits to a life of affliction, and I can choose them, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Seeing the Next Goal 

As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach. He urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 461)

The Bahá’í Faith places great emphasis on setting goals, making plans, executing them with a humble posture of learning, trying them out for a period of time, reflecting on their efficacy and then making new plans, all in 3 month cycles.  That’s why I love this quote so much.  It reminds me that we seldom see the end in the beginning.

When Shoghi Effendi was designing the gardens around the shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, he didn’t know anything about horticulture or landscape gardening, so he developed the 5 Steps of Prayer for Solving Problems, where he gives us a structured way to set a goal.  We pray, meditate, determine a course of action, have faith that the right things will come to our aid, have the determination to carry it out and to act as if it had all been answered.  Then repeat as needed.

All of these tools help us when we’re setting our goals, to make sure we aren’t paralyzed by indecision and fretting about not knowing everything when we start.  The biggest thing to remember is that we are all soldiers in God’s Army.  He’s the one in charge.  We are only His foot soldiers.  As long as we’re moving forward prayerfully, we can’t fail.

Knowing that each goal achieved brings me closer to God, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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Unanswered Prayers

Although you seem to feel that your prayers have not so far been answered, and do no longer have any hope that your material condi­tions would ameliorate, the Guardian wishes you nevertheless not to allow such disappointments to undermine your faith in the power of prayer, but rather to continue entreating the Almighty to enable you to discover the great wisdom which may be hidden behind all these suf­ferings. For are not our sufferings often blessings in disguise, through which God wishes to test the sincerity and depth of our faith, and thereby make us firmer in His Cause? (Shoghi Effendi, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and a Devotional Attitude, p. 239)

There have been times in my life when I believed that God hadn’t answered my prayers, and I fell into a great deal of self-pity.  I started questioning the sincerity of my belief, and even my faith in God himself.  As a result, it was easy to move away, little by little, from doing the things necessary for my spiritual growth and development.  I was going into this place recently, when I was praying for financial rescue that didn’t seem to come.  Fortunately a wise friend encouraged me to make a list of all the financial gifts that came my way every day.  Some days it might only be finding a dime on the ground.  Other days it was free food from being able to eat at the soup kitchen and have leftovers to take home.  Some days it was a bill that I’d budgeted for, and for some reason I didn’t have to pay.  Another time it was an unexpected cheque in the mail or a temporary job.  All in all, it added up and somehow the bills got paid.  When I allowed myself to think ahead about the big ticket items and couldn’t see how they would be covered, I fell into fear, but when I focused on all the blessings and bounties coming my way, my heart was full of gratitude and life was a lot more fun.

In today’s quote we see that there are several steps we can take when our prayers don’t seem to be answered:

  • Don’t allow disappointments to undermine your faith in the power of prayer
  • Continue asking God to enable you to discover the wisdom hidden behind your suf­ferings
  • Recognize that suffering is often a blessing in disguise so God can test the sincerity and depth of my faith, and make me firmer in His Cause

Recognizing that unanswered prayer is just another one of God’s tests, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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