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Prayer Requests and Virtues Acquired During the Baha’i Fast

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:

20 Great Articles, 2 Books and 11 Videos to Help You Through the Fast

 

There have been more articles and videos put together by Bahá’ís on the topic of the Fast, than for any other Holy Day, so I wanted to share the ones I’ve found with you, to inspire you, through this time of the year.  If you know of any others, please add them to the comments below.

Articles:  Click on the titles below to go to the article.

4 Things the Fast Helps Us Strengthen

5 Tips for a Healthy, Happy Fast

10 Great Articles About the Baha’i Fast for You to Read 

10 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Fast 

Daily Meditations for the Fast

Fasting for Mothers

Fasting in Other Religions

How to Eat During the Bahá’í Fast 

It’s not Just About the Food

Meditations on the Long Fast Prayer

More on the Bahá’í Fast 

Practical Tips for the Bahá’í Fast

Prayer Requests and Virtues Acquired During the Baha’i Fast 

Ruhiyyih Khanum on the Long Fast Prayer

Sharing the Bahá’í Fast with Children

The Bahá’í Fast

The Baha’i Fast… Slowly

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The Fast and Sacrifice

Pain and Suffering

Books:

Happy Fasting – A Healthy Approach to the Baha’i Fast 

The Supreme Remedy – Applying the Healing Arts to the Baha’i Fast

Videos:

Dr. StrangeRuz or: How I Learned to Stop Eating and Love the Fast 

 

Elika Mahony sings the short Fast Prayer

 

Fast in a Day

 

Fasting a Baha’i video 2013

 

Fasting Time Song

 

Good Morning Vietnam: Observing the Baha’i Fast  

 

Infomercial for Fast Slow Dissolving Tablets

 

I will observe the Fast – Poem in English

 

Long Fast Prayer Sung by the Shiraz Choir

 

Rap Song for the Fast

 

 

These are the Days – A Musical Celebration of the Bahá’í Fast

Do you know of any others? Please share them below:

Practical Tips for the Bahá’i Fast

By Chloe Tortorella ND BSc

 For those of you looking for information on the practical side of The Fast, who have trouble starting or completing the Fast. This article is written especially for you.

We all know the first few days of the Fast are the hardest. One of the physical reasons for this is that the brain hitherto amply supplied with glucose from the regular ingestion of foodstuffs has to now get used to burning other sources of fuel as well as ketone bodies. This takes a few days of adjustment during which some people feel lousy and depressed.

Below I have outlined a few common problems which can cause problems for some  Baha’is during the Fast

Stimulant Withdrawal

Stimulants alter the way in which our bodies provide us with energy. Coffee, tea & cola drinks for example, allows glucagon from the liver to be released as glucose to top up our flagging energy levels. If you rely on stimulants to get you through the day it’s likely you’ll find it pretty hard fasting. So start progressively cutting down your intake about 3- 6 weeks before the Fast starts so that the impact will be minimized when you do fast. 

The Sugar Blues 

The same can be said for relying on sweets throughout the day as this provides an extra load on the pancreas with reactive hypoglycaemia sometimes occurring following the commencement of the Fast. This is where people can feel weak, shaky or dizzy and often very irritable. When this happens some people begin to think of withdrawing from the fast. Cutting down your sugar products intake progressively before the Fast can help, but sometimes other nutrients are necessary to help improve glucose tolerance if this has been a long-term lifestyle choice.

Liquids and Constipation 

Many people break there fast with one glass of liquid and then launch into a big meal, after several days of this some Baha’is get an awful, sick headache and start to feel constipated. This can be caused by several reasons, but one of interest here is insufficient fluids. The main take home message is we need to drink the same amount of liquids we would normally. That means not jumping out of bed 5 minutes before sunrise to grab a quick bite of toast and “toughing it out” through the day.

What it means is getting up well before time so that you can have several glasses of liquid well before your breakfast. This rehydrates the body and intestines contents before you eat. The same is true at the end of the day. Have 3 – 4 glasses of water, fruit juice or clear soup  etc. and wait  half an hour to eat. This will rehydrate you at the other end of the day. If you still feel dehydrated have one or two glasses of water at bedtime. This way your system should run smoothly and you should feel much more able to carry out your normal duties while fasting.  

Fast metabolisers 

Some people eat a large breakfast but feel hungry again two hours later. We call these people “fast metabolisers”. For them a light breakfast is out of the question. Usually they need a meal with plenty of protein, some carbohydrate and some oil or fat. So a complex breakfast is likely to see them sustaining there energy levels better during the Fast than just having large quantities of carbohydrate foods.

Morning Depressives

Some people wake up grumpy or feeling very emotionally flat and don’t feel better until they have had a starchy breakfast. This is usually due to low serotonin. This is exacerbated during the fast. For some people they feel so low they want to stop fasting. The main thing to remember is to eat starchy foods at night so that serotonin will be higher in the morning and the world will seem a better place.

Skipping Breakfast during the Fast

If you normally skip breakfast and usually don’t eat until mid-morning or lunch. You’ll find for most people this is hard to do during the Fast as the fuel your  running on from last nights meal will run out early in the day and there’ll be no mid-morning/lunch top up so your thirstiness and weakness will be exaggerated. You could “hit the wall” and not be able to do whatever you were meant to do for a short, or a long period of time. This is because the brain and muscles may not be receiving enough fuel to run efficiently. The key is good preparation. Make sure you eat breakfast at least during the fast.

So I hope these few tips help some of you to be able to enjoy the spiritual aspects of the Fast less encumbered by various preventable limitations.

Chloe Tortorella BSc Nutrition, N.D.

 

 

10 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Baha’i Fast

Below are 10 top tips for healthy eating during the Fast:

 

1.  Don’t gorge in the evenings: Large meals should be avoided because they can cause the digestive system to block after a long day of fasting. Therefore, break your fast with dates and water or juice as they contain simple sugars that can be absorbed easily by the body. Then try to have a balanced meal – soups are a good choice as they don’t stress the stomach and hydrate the body.

2.  Stay off the Salt: Salty foods should be avoided as they will retain water in the body and cause discomfort.

3.  Hydrate Yourself: A lack of fluids makes the body prone to dehydration and more likely to retain fats and toxins. So, drink ample quantities of water and fresh juices.

4.  Eat Yoghurt: Yogurt is recommended at both meals, as it contains friendly bacteria which benefit the digestive tract. Yoghurt also helps digestion and cleanses the intestines from harmful bacteria. Also, it is a good source of calcium and protein.

5.  Avoid Sugar and Grease: Fried foods and sweets should be consumed in moderation as they are full of saturated fats which raise cholesterol and adversely affect your health.

6.  Get Moving:Exercise is very important during the Fast as it helps you maintain your body weight by burning the extra-calories and eliminating stress. It also has an essential role in preventing constipation.

7.  Don’t Skip Breakfast: Many people tend to skip breakfast; however skipping meals will slow down your metabolism and lead to fatigue and distress. For Suhoor, try to choose foods that contain protein, complex carbohydrates and high-fibre foods such as wheat, oats, beans, whole grain bread, vegetables and seasonable fruits.Fibers and proteins take a long time to be digested so you won’t feel hungry.

8.  Avoid Tea and Coffee: Tea, Coffee and carbonated beverages remove calcium from your body. It is therefore recommended that you avoid them especially at breakfast, as they increase salt and water excretion which your body needs during fasting.

9.  Don’t neglect Protein: Consumption of protein is important in order to prevent muscle wasting; vegetarians should consider this when choosing non-animal protein sources.

10.  Finish with Fruit: Intake of fruits after a meal is highly beneficial and provides the body with nutrients. Fasting could be effective in treating of moderate (non-insulin) diabetes, obesity and hypertension as the process lowers the blood sugar levels, cholesterol and the systolic blood pressure.

Nathalie Haddad, leading Dietician and Managing Director of Right Bite cautions: “It is highly important to eat moderately and focus on well-balanced and low-fat meals during the Fast. A light, healthy breakfast, one that is high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, will help prevent tiredness, poor concentration, dizziness and headaches. At dinner, it is important to consume food from all five groups with minimum fat content and to control portion sizes in order to avoid weight gain.”

Adapted from:http://www.whatsonsyria.com/magazine/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=586&Itemid=0

Have I missed any?  Post your comments here: