Praise be unto Thee, O our God, that Thou hast sent down unto us that which draweth us nigh unto Thee, and supplieth us with every good thing sent down by Thee in Thy Books and Thy Scriptures. (Bahá’u’lláh)
It’s been over two months since we returned from pilgrimage. Life, as life does, has once again returned to a regular, somewhat insistent rhythm. I can’t rightly say that it’s “returned to normal” or that it’s achieved any sort of equilibrium; after all, has not the whole world’s equilibrium “been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order”?
Still, out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to nurture that conscious connection with God that seemed to come so naturally when I found myself kneeling in the Shrines. Some days are pretty good; I feel focused, conscious, resolute, and my prayers feel like loving conversations with God. Other days, I feel hazy, distracted, and weak, and my prayers feel just like words. On those days, I just find it difficult to pray because I feel so distracted by random worries—like the hosts of idle fancies and vain imaginings are launching an assault on my head.
I gather similar things happen to everyone; that’s why we always have to work at it. There’s no magic bullet to become more spiritual or to improve the quality and depth of your prayer, it seems. Instead, in His unerring wisdom as the Divine Physician for this age, Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed a number of spiritual habits for us to adopt to help our spirits grow and flourish. For those of us who worry so much that we find ourselves unable to pray, it would seem that the solution is to bite the bullet and pray anyway. In writing to a physician about health, Bahá’u’lláh said: “Verily, the most necessary thing is contentment under all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid conditions and lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow: they cause the greatest misery.” Letting go of one’s anxiety and being content with the will of God, as suggested in the famous prayer, will “refresh and gladden” one’s spirit.
O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
: Bahá’u’lláh, Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 118.
: Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 108.