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During the Baha’I Fast, we come to God in an attitude of absolute humility as we say:

I am he, O my God, who testifieth to Thy unity, who acknowledgeth Thy oneness, who boweth humbly before the revelations of Thy majesty, and who recognizeth with downcast countenance the splendors of the light of Thy transcendent glory. I have believed in Thee after Thou didst enable me to know Thy Self. Whom Thou hast revealed to men’s eyes through the power of Thy sovereignty and might. Unto Him I have turned, wholly detached from all things, and cleaving steadfastly unto the cord of Thy gifts and favors. I have embraced His truth, and the truth of all the wondrous laws and precepts that have been sent down unto Him. I have fasted for love of Thee and in pursuance of Thine injunction, and have broken my fast with Thy praise on my tongue and in conformity with Thy pleasure.

And again:

Praised be Thou, therefore, O my God, inasmuch as Thou hast graciously enabled us to recognize Him and to acknowledge whatsoever hath been sent down unto Him, and conferred upon us the honor of attaining the presence of the One Whom Thou didst promise in Thy Book and in Thy Tablets.  Thou seest me then, O my God, with my face turned towards Thee, cleaving steadfastly to the cord of Thy gracious providence and generosity, and clinging to the hem of Thy tender mercies and bountiful favors.

And again:

I confess, O my God, that whatever proceedeth from me is wholly unworthy of Thy sovereignty and falleth short of Thy majesty.

And again:

Forgiving and Most Bountiful art Thou, O my Lord! Power has Thou  255  to do what Thou pleasest. All else but Thee are impotent before the revelations of Thy might, are as lost in the face of the evidences of Thy wealth, are as nothing when compared with the manifestations of Thy transcendent sovereignty, and are destitute of all strength when face to face with the signs and tokens of Thy power. What refuge is there beside Thee, O my Lord, to which I can flee, and where is there a haven to which I can hasten? Nay, the power of Thy might beareth me witness! No protector is there but Thee, no place to flee to except Thee, no refuge to seek save Thee.

We know that every hour of the Fast is endowed with a special virtue, inscrutable only to God.

Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee . . .  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 245)

Still, I can’t help wondering if we can get a glimmer of what might be in store for us by looking at what we’re praying for in the Prayers for the Fast, and the virtue we might acquire as a result.  I’ve culled the prayers to show what we’re praying for, and the virtue each implies.

Of course, we know that each word proceeding out of the Writings has 70+1 meanings

We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings; each one of these meanings we can explain.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 255)

Therefore, each phrase probably has many more virtues than I’ve thought of.  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Let’s have a look!

  • cast me not away from the gate of the city of Thy presence (Love)
  • disappoint not the hopes I have set on the manifestations of Thy grace amidst Thy creatures (Hope and Grace)
  • draw me ever nearer to the threshold of Thy door (Attachment)
  • suffer me not to be far removed from the shadow of Thy mercy and the canopy of Thy bounty (Mercy and Bounties)
  • attract me by the fragrance of Thy raiment (Attraction)
  • make me drink of the choice wine of Thine utterance (Love)
  • raise me up to serve Thy Cause (Service)
  • that I shall not fall back, nor be hindered by the suggestions of them who have caviled at Thy signs and turned away from Thy face (Steadfastness)
  • enable me to gaze on the Daystar of Thy Beauty (Vision)
  • supply me with the wine of Thine utterance (Bounties and Blessings)
  • graciously aid me to do what Thy will hath desired and Thy purpose hath manifested (Focus)
  • grant that I may die to all that I possess (Detachment)
  • live to whatsoever belongeth unto Thee (Life)
  • remember Thee amongst Thy creatures (Remembrance)
  • extol Thee amidst Thy people (Teaching)
  • remove me far from whatsoever Thy will abhorreth (Protection)
  • make known unto me what lay hid in the treasuries of Thy knowledge and concealed within the repositories of Thy wisdom (Understanding)
  • hasten unto the light of the countenance of their Lord, the Unconstrained (Nearness)
  • number me with such as have attained unto that which Thou hast sent down in Thy Book and manifested through Thy will (Hope)
  • face the swords of Thine enemies in Thy path (Courage)
  • write down for me with Thy most exalted Pen what Thou hast written down for Thy trusted ones and Thy chosen ones (Hope)
  • to write down for everyone who hath turned unto Thee, and observed the fast prescribed by Thee, the recompense decreed for such as speak not except by Thy leave (Hope)
  • cancel the trespasses of those who have held fast to Thy laws, and have observed what Thou hast prescribed unto them in Thy Book (Forgiveness)
  • send down upon me and upon them who are in my company that which will enable us to soar into the heavens of Thy transcendent glory (Bounties)
  • wash us from the stain of such doubts as have hindered the suspicious from entering into the tabernacle of Thy unity (Cleansing, Certainty)
  • ordain for me and for my loved ones the good of this world and of the world to come (Bounties)
  • Supply them, then, with the Hidden Gift Thou didst ordain for the choicest among Thy creatures (Bounties)
  • observeth the fast wholly for Thy sake and with absolute detachment from all things except Thee (Detachment)
  • Assist me and assist them. O my Lord, to obey Thee and to keep Thy precepts (Obedience)
  • reserved, at each daybreak, the cup of Thy remembrance (Remembrance)
  • to celebrate Thy praise (Gratitude)
  • extol Thy virtues (Teaching)
  • flee from sleep in their eagerness to approach Thy presence and partake of Thy bounty. (Detachment)
  • Their eyes have, at all times, been bent upon the Dayspring of Thy loving-kindness, and their faces set towards the Fountainhead of Thine inspiration (Focus)
  • Rain down, then, upon us and upon them from the clouds of Thy mercy what beseemeth the heaven of Thy bounteousness and grace (Mercy and Grace)
  • rid themselves from all attachment to any of Thy creatures (Detachment)
  • so carried away by the sweet savors of Thine inspiration that every single member of their bodies intoned Thy praise and vibrated to Thy remembrance (Teaching)
  • not to withhold from us the things Thou hast irrevocably ordained (Bounties)
  • enabled to have fellowship with Thee and to commune with Him Who is the Revealer of Thyself (Fellowship and Communion)
  • gather them together beneath Thy shadow (Unity)
  • cause them to enter into the precincts of Thy court (Nearness)
  • to abide under the shade of the canopy of Thy mercy (Mercy)
  • assist them to attain what must befit so august a station (Bounties)
  • Suffer them not, o my Lord, to be numbered with them who, though enjoying near access to Thee, have been kept back from recognizing Thy face, and who, though meeting with Thee, are deprived of Thy presence (Recognition and Nearness)
  • Send down, therefore, upon them what will thoroughly purge them of all that Thou abhorrest (Cleansing)
  • that they may be wholly devoted to Thee (Devotion)
  • may detach themselves entirely from all except Thyself (Detachment)
  • Rain down, then, upon us. O my God, that which beseemeth Thy grace and befitteth Thy bounty (Grace and Bounties)
  • Enable us, then, O my God, to live in remembrance of Thee and to die in love of Thee (Remembrance and Love)
  • supply us with the gift of Thy presence in Thy worlds hereafter (Nearness)
  • to ordain in the course of this year what shall exalt Thy loved ones (Bounties)
  • enable the Daystar of Thy power to shine brightly above the horizon of Thy glory, and to illuminate by Thy sovereign might, the whole world. (Illumination)
  • Render Thy Cause victorious (Victory)
  • abase Thou Thine enemies (Justice)
  • Write down, then, for us the good of this life and of the life to come (Bounties)
  • purify their souls (Purification)
  • rid themselves of all attachment to anyone but Thee (Detachment)
  • that out of their hearts may ascend that which will be worthy of the court of Thy majesty and may well beseem the seat of the revelation of Thy oneness (Worthiness)
  • Grant, O my Lord, that this fast may become a river of life-giving waters and may yield the virtue wherewith Thou hast endowed it (Life giving and Bounties)
  • Cleanse Thou by its means the hearts of Thy servants (Cleansing)
  • Don’t let the evils of the world have failed to hinder from turning towards Thy all-glorious Name (Detachment and Remembrance)
  • Let us remain unmoved by the noise and tumult of such as have repudiated Thy most resplendent signs (Protection)
  • hastened in the direction of Thy mercy (Mercy)
  • Don’t let us be kept back from Thee by the changes and chances of this world or by any human limitations (Detachment)
  • Suffer me not, O my Lord, to be reckoned among them who have fasted in the daytime, who in the night-season have prostrated themselves before Thy face, and who have repudiated Thy truth, disbelieved in Thy signs, gainsaid Thy testimony, and perverted Thine utterances (Sincerity)
  • Open Thou, O my Lord, mine eyes and the eyes of all them that have sought Thee, that we may recognize Thee with Thine own eyes (Vision)
  • Destroy not, I implore Thee, my hopes of attaining unto that which Thou didst ordain for Thy servants who have turned towards the precincts of Thy court and the sanctuary of Thy presence, and have observed the fast for love of Thee (Hope)
  • to give me to drink of the wine of Thy mercy and of the pure beverage of Thy favor, which have streamed forth from the right hand of Thy will (Mercy and Bounties)
  • fix my gaze upon Thee (Focus)
  • be so detacted from all else but Thee, that the world and all that hath been created therein may appear before me as a fleeting day which Thou hast not deigned to create (Detachment)
  • to rain down that which will cleanse us from the noisome savors of our transgressions (Cleansing and Forgiveness)
  • Cast not away, O my Lord, him that hath turned towards Thee (Love)
  • suffer him who hath drawn nigh unto Thee to be removed far from Thy court (Nearness)
  • Dash not the hopes of the suppliant who hath longingly stretched out his hands to seek Thy grace and favors (Hope, Grace and Bounties)
  • deprive not Thy sincere servants of the wonders of Thy tender mercies and loving-kindness (Wonder, Mercy and Love)
  • Cause me to taste the divine sweetness of Thy remembrance and praise (Remembrance and Praise)
  • rid himself of all attachment to the world and all that is therein (Detachment)
  • set his face towards Thee, cleaned from the remembrance of anyone except Thee (Focus and Cleansing)
  • Inspire then my soul with Thy wondrous remembrance, that I may glorify Thy name (Inspiration and Glorification)
  • Number me not with them who read Thy words and fail to find Thy hidden gift which, as decreed by Thee, is contained therein, and which quickeneth the souls of Thy creatures and the hearts of Thy servants (Sincerity)
  • Cause me to be reckoned among them who have been so stirred up by the sweet savors that have been wafted in Thy days that they have laid down their lives for Thee and hastened to the scene of their death in their longing to gaze on Thy beauty and in their yearning to attain Thy presence (Detachment and Martyrdom)
  • blessed by the Concourse on high (Blessed)
  • glorified by the denizens of the everlasting Cities (Glorified)
  • Proclaim, therefore, O my God, their greatness and the greatness of those who while living or after death have circled round them (Love)
  • Supply them with that which Thou hast ordained for the righteous among Thy creatures (Love)
  • Do not bring our fasts to an end with this fast, O my Lord, nor the covenants Thou hast made with this covenant (Life)
  • accept all that we have done for love of Thee, and for the sake of Thy pleasure, and all that we have left undone as a result of our subjection to ur evil and corrupt desires (Acceptance and Love)
  • Enable us, then, to cleave steadfastly to Thy love and Thy good pleasure (Steadfastness)
  • preserve us from the mischief of such as have denied Thee and repudiated Thy most resplendent signs (Protection)
  • aid us to recognize and love Him (Recognition and Love)
  • enable us to serve Him (Service)
  • assist us to obey Him (Obedience)
  • empower us to become the helpers of His Cause (Service)
  • empower us to become the dispensers of His adversaries (Justice)

During the Fast, in addition to all these potential virtues, God has promised that He has:

  • unlocked the doors of Thy bounty before the faces of Thy creatures
  • opened wide the portals of Thy tender mercy unto all the dwellers of Thine earth
  • blessed those who have turned to Him and fulfilled the things He has commanded

Lauded be Thy name, o My God! This is the hour when Thou hast unlocked the doors of Thy bounty before the faces of Thy creatures, and opened wide the portals of Thy tender mercy unto all the dwellers of Thine earth.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 249)

Blessed is the man that hath turned unto Him, and fulfilled the things He hath commanded.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 258)

And that our transgressions have not hindered us from loving God and turning in the direction of His mercy:

The transgressions committed by such as have turned away from Thee and have borne themselves haughtily towards Thee have not availed to hinder them from loving Thee, and from setting their faces towards Thee, and from turning in the direction of Thy mercy.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’I Prayers, p. 256)

Baha’u’llah asks God to magnify Himself, so that we can see Him as:

  • the Primal Point
  • the Divine Mystery
  • the Unseen Essence
  • the Dayspring of Divinity
  • the Manifestation of Thy Lordship

And that we can see that through Him

  • all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain
  • the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered
  • the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed
  • the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united
  • Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy words have been sent down
  • Thy laws have been set forth with clearness
  • Thy signs spread abroad
  • Thy Word established
  • the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare
  • all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together

Magnify Thou, O Lord my God, Him Who is the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Dayspring of Divinity, and the Manifestation of Thy Lordship, through Whom all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain, through Whom the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered, and the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed, Whom Thou hast appointed as the Announcer of the One through Whose name the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united, through Whom Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy words have been sent down, and Thy laws set forth with clearness, and Thy signs spread abroad, and Thy Word established, through Whom the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare, and all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 257-258)

He then asks God to magnify those who have

  • believed in Him and in His signs
  • turned towards Him

Thou beholdest, O my God, what hath befallen Thy dear ones in Thy days. Thy glory beareth me witness! The voice of the lamentations of Thy chose ones hath been lifted up throughout Thy realm. Some were ensnared by the infidels in Thy land, and were hindered by them from having near access to Thee and from attaining the court of Thy glory. Others were able to approach Thee, but were kept back from beholding Thy face. Still others were permitted, in their eagerness to look upon Thee, to enter the precincts of Thy court, but they allowed the veils of the imaginations of Thy creatures and the wrongs inflicted by the oppressors among Thy people to come in between them and Thee.  (Bahá’í Prayers, pps. 238-261)

How has this helped you understand the Fast better?  Post your comments below: