Baha'i Devotional Gatherings
What are devotional meetings?
Baha'i devotional gatherings are held in a variety of settings including homes, parks, houses of worship, and public halls. They may include spoken or sung sacred scripture from any of the world religions. There are no set rituals or formulae which guide these opportunities for collective prayer and meditation, and all participants are welcome to contribute to the collective experience.
Devotional meetings spring up naturally in a community where a conversation about the spiritual dimension of human existence is growing. In diverse settings, Bahá’ís and their friends and families unite with one another in prayer. There are no rituals; no one individual has any special role. Meetings consist largely of reading prayers and passages from the Bahá’í sacred texts in an informal yet respectful atmosphere. A spirit of communal worship is generated by these simple gatherings, and this spirit begins to permeate the community’s collective endeavours.
“There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer. Man must live in a state of prayer. The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication. Prayer is conversation with God. The greatest attainment or the sweetest state is none other than conversation with God. It creates spirituality, creates mindfulness and celestial feelings, begets new attractions of the Kingdom and engenders susceptibilities of the higher intelligence.” -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Prayer is the essential spiritual conversation of the soul with its Maker. It is the spiritual food that sustains the life of the spirit and enhances spiritual understanding. Prayer begets mindfulness and heavenly feelings, and awakens the higher intelligence. Prayer increases capacity to enjoy spiritual gifts, to experience true happiness. It inspires selfless service to humankind.
God is unknowable in essence. This means that we should not make images of God in our mind, thinking of the Creator, for example, as a man. In general, that which has been created cannot understand its creator. For instance, a table cannot understand the nature of the carpenter who made it. The carpenter's existence is totally incomprehensible to the objects she makes.
"In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven..." -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The practice of private prayer can contribute to inner transformation. The coming together in prayer can stimulate within individuals the desire to contribute to the spiritual and material progress of the community and a united community vision.
Prayer is essential for our spiritual sustenance and growth. Through it we may praise God and express our love for Him, as well as beseech Him for assistance. The capacity to meditate is a distinguishing feature of the human being. Indeed, the Bahá’í writings suggest that human progress would be impossible without reflection and contemplation.
Prayer without action is limited in its power. Just like a sailing boat that needs both the wind and the deliberate turning of the rudder to reach its destination, communities can harness immense spiritual power through prayer, but must also take purposeful and united action to achieve their collective goals.
“O Lord! Unite and bind together the hearts, join in accord all the souls.. Make these faces radiant through the light of Thy oneness." -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
"O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord." - Baha'u'llah
“O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations опe, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony." -‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Today thousands upon thousands of such regular devotional meetings are held in localities throughout the world—in urban and suburban neighbourhoods, in hamlets and villages alike.
All are welcome to participate in devotional gatherings. To participate in a devotional gathering please contact your local Bahá'í community.