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The conditions of prayer

The conditions of prayer

What is prayer? What role does it play in the process of spiritual perfection and what inner state does it require? These are some of the questions addressed by Bahram Elahi in Chapter 29 of The Path of Perfection, which is dedicated to prayer. Here is an excerpt.

If we envision Him as face-to-face with us while praying, we would not speak to Him inattentively.

Human beings, even those with faith, tend to forget the Source unless they are in situations of need or distress. The goal of prayer is to prevent this forgetfulness and to maintain our communication with the Source. Prayer turns a believer’s “receptor” toward the Source and in doing so enables him to receive divine energy, which is a panacea for all ills, especially illnesses of the soul.[1] This energy keeps the soul lively, purifying it, increasing its radiance and, most importantly, preventing its negligence and ignorance.

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The main factor in prayer is heartfelt attention. True prayer is one that is performed solely with the intention of drawing closer to the Source and being mindful of His presence. According to this principle, then, what is important is “attention,” which supersedes words.

When we pray, it is as if our prayer is recorded on a magnetic tape. If what we recite within is done with attention and its meaning resonates in our mind, it will be recorded in its entirety. Conversely, any moments of inattention also remain on the tape in the form of blank spaces, as if no prayer were ever recited. In general, if prayer is performed without attention, no message will be sent, in which case the only reward we receive is for the physical effort we’ve imposed on ourselves to recite the prayer.

When performed with heartfelt attention, prayer in any form will reach the Source; if it is accompanied by a sense of excitement as well, it will have an even greater effect. Such excitement can be engendered by music, joyous songs, a specific environment, etc.[2] The greater the enthusiasm and fervor, the more excited the heart becomes and the more the prayer increases in effect. If we invoke the Source in difficult situations with the same anguish and heartfelt excitement as that of a person stranded in the middle of the ocean on a sinking boat, He will respond to us.

What we want from the Source through our prayers depends on our culture, upbringing, and spiritual level. Someone who is spiritually at the exoteric level may have both material and spiritual desires. Having material desires at this level does not matter and can even be beneficial, meaning we can come to better know the Source in this manner and establish a closer relationship with Him. At the level of esotericism or spirituality, however, an individual’s nature changes and with it his needs, such that he no longer has any material desires. In this state, he wishes to love the Source more and draw closer to Him, seeking above all else divine satisfaction. He asks the Source to protect him from the rebellions of his imperious self and to grant him the grace to remain steadfast on his path.

Regardless of our spiritual level, one of our duties is to ask for “forgiveness, mercy, blessings, and grace for the souls of our parents (whether alive or deceased), all the men and women of faith, and even for all of creation.” If a person asks us to pray for him or for a third person, we can do so provided we leave its result to “whatever the Source deems expedient.”

Above all, then, prayer is a means of communicating with the Source and receiving energy from Him.


[1] ^Divine energy is a metacausal energy that transcends causality and encompasses all causes and effects. Someone who prays is able to use the energy he obtains through prayer to benefit others. For example, he can direct the benefits of this energy to an ill person to alleviate his pain or even cure his illness; to a distressed person to relieve his stress; to a deceased person for the blessing of his soul, etc. Although praying for others carries a spiritual reward, we should not insist or make demands in our prayers, but rather it is best to leave the result to the Source.

[2] ^Certain prayers accompanied by music and joyous melodies excite the soul and charge it with exhilarating effects. This form of prayer strongly motivates the soul and is sometimes performed by the adherents and mystics of different religions.


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