‘Abdu’l-Bahá Teaches How to Pray
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in New York, He called to him an ardent Bahá’í and said “If you will come to Me at dawn tomorrow, I will teach you to pray.” Delighted, Mr. M arose at four and crossed the city, arriving for his lesson at six. With what exultant expectation he must have greeted this opportunity! He found ‘Abdu’l-Bahá already at prayer, kneeling by the side of the bed. Mr. M followed suit, taking care to place himself directly across. Seeing that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was quite lost in His Own reverie Mr. M began to pray silently for his friends, his family and finally for the crowned heads of Europe. No word was uttered by the quiet Man before him. He went over all the prayers he knew then, and repeated them twice, three times - still no sound broke the expectant hush.
Mr M surreptitiously rubbed one knee and wondered vaguely about his back. He began again, hearing as he did so, the birds heralding the dawn outside the window. An hour passed, and finally two. Mr. M was quite numb now. His eyes, roving along the wall, caught sight of a large crack. He dallied with a touch of indignation but let his gaze pass again to the still figure across the bed.
The ecstasy that he saw arrested him and he drank deeply of the sight. Suddenly he wanted to pray like that. Selfish desires were forgotten. Sorrow, conflict, and even his immediate surroundings were as if they had never been. He was conscious of only one thing, a passionate desire to draw near to God.
Closing his eyes again he set the world firmly aside, and amazingly his heart teemed with prayer, eager, joyous, tumultuous prayer. He felt cleansed by humility and lighted by a new peace. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had taught him to pray!
The “Master of Akka” immediately arouse and came to him. His eyes rested smilingly upon the newly humbled Mr. M. “When you pray”, He said, “You must not think of your aching body, nor of the birds outside the window, nor of the cracks in the wall!”
He became very serious then, and added, “When you wish to pray you must first know that you are standing in the presence of the Almighty!”
Annamarie Honnold, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, no. 27, p 131-2