Devotional gatherings offer inspiration, light, peace

There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer.... Prayer is conversation with God." — 'Abdu'l-Baha

There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer.... Prayer is conversation with God." — 'Abdu'l-Baha

By Loie Mead

At a Baha’i devotional gathering, you can find Baha’is and friends joining together to plan prayers, music and readings; there is no priest or clergy in the Baha’i Faith. People of different traditions of diverse backgrounds plan and celebrate the Word of God together. This is because our world is continually changing and there must be renewal of religion. Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah is the Promised One mentioned in all the Holy Scriptures of the past, and Baha’is use Baha’u’llah’s teachings as they work to unite all people in one universal Cause, one common Faith.

If you attend Baha’i devotional gatherings you will hear the prayers from many traditions. They are the prayers of His Holiness Jesus the Christ, His Holiness Muhammad, His Holiness the Bab and His Holiness Baha’u’llah. Sometimes the prayer is a single word from the depths of a child’s heart. One of the sweetest prayers I ever heard at a Baha’i devotional gathering was the prayer offered by a little girl sitting in her mother’s lap at the Portland Baha’i Center. The host of the gathering had called for children’s prayers and the little girl looked up in awe at the exquisite design in the dome overhead. Inspired by the beauty and moved by the peacefulness, the little girl called out, “God…”

At another devotional gathering, a first-time visitor was very touched by the prayers and instantly began to teach others about Baha’u’llah and the history of the Faith. There followed such an engaging conversation that the hostess felt obliged to serve the cakes and tea to the guests a little sooner to give everyone more time together.

At a devotional gathering held in outer east Portland, people participated in open prayers and then enjoyed a delicious potluck with everyone pulling up a chair to sit at the dining room table. Then they became better acquainted with one another, and a newcomer felt so welcomed and overjoyed that she shared her photos of created dolls. The prayer gathering became her new family.

We are all yearning for the joys of family which are found in devotional gatherings. In one small prayer gathering of four, guests prayed together, listened to recorded songs by Grant Hinden-Miller and enjoyed a lunch of bread and soup. Later on a couple of guests asked for help in hosting a devotional gathering in their home.

I host a monthly devotional followed by dinner at my home in Lake Oswego. It’s a wonderful time for friends and neighbors to gather in a spirit of unity and fellowship. Although many of us are from differing faith traditions, we can share the common bond of prayer and spiritual communion. — Jan Czerniejewski

Both small and larger groups gather at Baha’i devotional gatherings. Many people love musical devotions and larger homes attract sizeable gatherings where Baha’i musicians are present and whole families enjoy the warmth and loving atmosphere of Baha’i prayers and Writings set to music.

Recently, a devotional gathering was held at a coffee shop at the owners’ invitation. Mothers and grandmothers came and ordered their coffees and teas before gathering around the musician as she played and sang out beautiful prayers from the platform.

One hostess of a devotional gathering researched several sources to find prayers of many traditions. She invited the guests to choose prayers that were specially wrapped in decorative papers for sharing with the gathering. On one occasion, a child chose a prayer titled “Deep Peace” and read it. At other devotionals, this child would search the basket for this same prayer.

A junior youth came to one devotional gathering to share her dance interpretation of a heroine in religious history. The youth played the part of the martyred Tahirih who defied the false teachings of the mullahs and removed her veil signaling the freedom of women. Devotional gatherings provide a special time when youth are encouraged to give expression to their Faith.

Guests and newcomers to Baha’i devotional gatherings frequently wonder if they may make a donation. Because the Faith of Baha’u’llah is supported “exclusively by contributions of His avowed adherents,” there is no “offering” or collection plate.

The devotional gatherings are important because they enable people to come together for conversation with God, to experience renewal of the eternal Faith of God in a changing world, and to investigate the Baha’i Faith.

We invite you to join us. Weekly devotional gatherings are held at the Portland Baha’i Center and the Beaverton Baha’i Center on Sunday mornings. There are also a number of neighborhood devotional gatherings – please contact us for details.