Youth discuss the effects of prayer in a Vancouver neighbourhood

Posted: 2015/03/18

A weekly devotional gathering (pictured above) began after a group of youth came together to reflect and plan at the end of a three-month cycle of activity. The youth—some of whom are studying Book 1: Reflections on the Life of the Spirit, while some are holding a core activity—have been conscious about creating opportunities to reflect on the significance of praying together. This account by Stefan Jauca describes one such conversation:

One night, as people gathered to pray, a discussion arose about the existence of a material and a spiritual dimension for everything. For example, hospitality can consist of offering tea to one’s guests, taking their coats, allowing them to sit near a warm fire. As well, the warmth of the host’s acts creates a certain spiritual feeling, and hospitality is felt through the environment created by these sentiments—the heart is affected. There is both a material and a spiritual dimension embedded in such things. The question was posed: “How can we look at both the material and spiritual dimensions of this gathering? What about it attracts us?”

One youth immediately shared that we are like an extended family. We all silently agreed with this simile, as it wonderfully describes the pattern of community life being woven by this band of youth in this neighbourhood. After a thoughtful pause, another friend added that fellowship definitely has a big role; we pray individually, of course, but to be able to pray together is different. There is a different energy and it is always uplifting. He said that after the devotional it is much easier to have positive thoughts. Someone else commented that this is because we create a certain environment when we pray together, an environment that encourages each of us and can help sustain us. The tutor of the study circle shared that when we set our heart on something, we are bound to be tested, to meet obstacles, to find difficulties. Perhaps these tests have to do with our studies, or with a project in the community, or our work. But if we are wholeheartedly striving for something, we cannot let these tests deter us from our goals. We all have things we are working towards, and steadfastness is important if our heart is set on noble aims. The youth mentioned a talk by Mírzá Abu’l Fadl referred to in Book 6: Teaching the Cause, who he introduced as an early Bahá’í and a great teacher. In the talk, Mírzá Abu’l Fadl discusses love, explaining that it is easy for one to sit in his garden, in front of his house, and say, “I love humanity.” But it is only when one has fought the battles of love, and has been wounded for the sake of love, that he can utter such a phrase with conviction. Our love only becomes real when it is tested. Praying together helps each of us meet the conditions of true love, helping each of us in our struggle to face these tests.

Then we prayed and we were happy.