The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
My Neighbor’s Prayer: The Vocabulary of Blessing as Common Bond
I drive past the Bahá’í temple almost every day. There are only seven Bahá’í temples in the world, and one of them is here. I love that it’s nestled between our neighbors and stands tall and strong overseeing our drinking water. Closer up the carvings on the outside of the temple are stunning; and inside the silence of the sacred spaces makes room for even the smallest sound to echo up into the sonorous rafters. The Bahá’í online reference library is full of answers to all your questions about this faith that unfolds quietly and peacefully in our midst, and much of the history of Bahá’u’lláh’s life can be found here.
Bahá’u’lláh (whose name means “Glory of God”) envisioned a global civilization of universal peace. He is considered among the many “mouthpieces for God” a prophet or divinely called being not unlike Moses at the Burning Bush, Buddha under the Body tree, Jesus at his baptism, or Muhammad before the archangel Gabriel. Bahá’u’lláh was born Mirza Husayn-‘Alí in 1817 Tehran to parents of nobility. At a young age, instead of following in his father’s footsteps as a government leader, he sought a life of service, humbly walking with the poor. He was a follower of Báb, along with thousands of others in Iran. This religious tradition was new and was met with opposition. Many were tortured and put to death. Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in a dungeon called the “black pit” chained to the other prisoners. There he experienced the divine revelation that would change his life.
Of his imprisonment he said, “During the days I lay in the prison of Tehran, though the galling weight of the chains, and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitated itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain…At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.” When he was released back to his family months later something had changed within him. He had a divine message of unity, justice, and peace to spread.
Below is a prayer written originally in Persian and Arabic by Bahá’u’lláh.
My Neighbor’s Prayer
UNTO Thee be praise, O Lord my God!
I entreat Thee, by Thy signs
that have encompassed the entire creation,
and by the light of Thy countenance
that hath illuminated all that are in heaven and on earth,
and by Thy mercy that hath surpassed all created things,
and by Thy grace that hath suffused the whole universe,
to rend asunder the veils that shut me out from Thee,
that I may hasten unto the Fountainhead of Thy mighty inspiration,
and to the Dayspring of Thy Revelation and bountiful favors,
and may be immersed beneath the ocean of Thy nearness and pleasure.
Bahá’u’lláh—The Divine Educator