Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Had Baha’i Beliefs Before I Knew the Faith Existed

Sometimes we receive several blessings at once. A response coordinator shared this story about a youth who contacted her through an online conversation and then enrolled in the Baha’i community the same day. She then heard some wonderful news about the Baha’i community where the young woman who just declared resides.

The coordinator began the conversation by text...

Hello! I am a member of the Baha’i Faith responding to your inquiry. Do you have questions? I look forward to hearing from you.

The young woman then responded:

Yes, is it a requirement to go to a prayer circle or can I worship independently because there are no Baha`i centers near me?

The coordinator explained that worship is between an individual and God, and includes more than prayer. The youth texted back:

Can you clarify? I agree with all the central beliefs, I actually had all Baha’i beliefs even before I knew the Faith existed, but I don't understand what obligatory prayer is or if there are any special ways to worship.

The coordinator then explained obligatory prayer and community devotions:

Sure, there are obligatory prayers that a Baha’i must say once every 24 hours. There are three obligatory prayers and you can choose one of the three. We do not have congregational prayer, but we do have devotionals where people gather and pray together, people from all religions.

She then explained the wider concept of worship in the Baha’i teachings:

There are no clergy in the Baha’i Faith. Worship is not just prayer but every act you do that is conducive to the well-being of mankind and for the love of God is considered worship. Your profession, your art is a divine gift, and a form of service.

The coordinator included a link to an app for Baha’i prayers. The young woman then responded:

Thank you. I think I want to join the Faith. What should I do next?

The coordinator encouraged the youth to call her directly so that they could have a conversation about the fundamental verities of the Faith. She did and they talked for about an hour, and then joined the Baha’i community!

Not only are the youth’s parents supportive of her decision, but “out of the blue,” the coordinator received a call from a Baha’i in the very same community where the youth just declared.

The news? The Baha’is called to inform the coordinator that their community was able to form a Spiritual Assembly, the local Baha’i governing council, after several years. Though she is too young to be elected to the Assembly, she will receive the nurturing and support of a brand new one within her community!

The response coordinator wrote:

It just happened to be in the community this young lady who has just enrolled lives in! This is so typical of the Concourse on High assisting. I don't usually panic because Baha'u'llah is always there. (Sometimes I think I am just numb.)

In the book Paris Talks, ‘Abdu’l-Baha states:

In the Bahá'í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are counted as worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. (Paris Talks, p. 176)

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