The Long Healing Prayer revealed by Baha’u’llah is a potent medicine, an elixir. It offers a unique approach to healing; this prayer is a remedy many turn to in times of tests, difficulties and pain. Its potency is felt always. Below is a brief reflection on this powerful prayer, particularly as it relates to the spiritual healing of humankind.
My love for this Long Healing Prayer comes from an appreciation and curiosity into the statement made in one of Baha’u’llah’s Hidden Words:
The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not.1
Is not the recitation of this Long Healing Prayer and calling Him to remembrance, striving to understand the inner reality of God, and therefore ourselves, a remedy for all our ills? What a magnificent gift, bestowed by the Grace of God, that the healer of all our ills is remembrance of Him!
The Long Healing Prayer was revealed in Arabic, but even the English translation maintains its lyrical, repetitious, soul circling form. It can be said to be broken into three major parts. The first and briefest is the introductory sentence: “He is the Healer, the Sufficer, the Helper, the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.” This is followed by the body of the prayer which transports me to realms of reflection regarding the soul, and its myriad associations to its Creator as it repeatedly invokes “these most beauteous names […] these most noble and sublime attributes”. It is 34 sentences in total, with over 102 unique ways of calling on the Maker. Every sentence ends with the statement, “Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One”. The third part is its concluding remarks on the all-embracing love of God which alone has the power to heal “every sick, diseased and poor one, from every tribulation and distress, from every loathsome affliction and sorrow,” allowing the one who recites it with “purity of heart, chastity of soul and freedom of spirit” to understand and be guided.
Reflecting on the Long Healing Prayer cannot help but raise these questions about healing:
- What does it mean to heal?
- Are we talking about physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional, or social healing?
- Are we talking only of the individual or can healing also occur in society?
And these questions about prayer:
- What is prayer?
- Why does the soul long to engage in this process?
- How do we engage in the healing process as we pray?
- How do our prayers contribute to the healing of others?
- How do our prayers contribute to the healing of humankind?
The heart of this article relates to this last question: I have recently been reflecting on three of the unique Names of the Creator that are mentioned in the Long Healing Prayer (the Enkindler, the Brightener, and the Bringer of Delight) and how attempting to embody these qualities can contribute to the healing of humankind.
For me these three qualities in particular clearly raise the idea of latency. Latency is that undeveloped, untapped, unfulfilled potential that lies hidden in the depths of our being and in society. It is this latent potential in our individual lives, in our associations, in our communities and in our social institutions that must be realised as we engage in a process of transformation, as we engage in the generation, application and dissemination of knowledge for the betterment of the world. Ultimately aren’t all educational ends focused on the development of our latency? Baha’u’llah tells us:
Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.2
I love the idea that we can continue to grow and evolve, that we have the potential to become even more enkindled, even brighter, even more delightful in such a way that we must shine out in all our myriad associations like the full moon of a dark night, lighting the way.
One way we can reflect on this state of enkindlement and calling to remembrance the Enkindler is by our deeds. As we act in the world, we teach and share the uplifting transformative spirit of this Dispensation with all, and we become enkindled. The Universal House of Justice writes in its 2007 Ridvan Message that it looks
…with expectant eyes to the day when teaching is the dominating passion in the life of every believer and when the unity of the community is so strong as to enable this state of enkindlement to express itself in unremitting action in the field of service.3
We, as individuals and as groups of believers, can become energised and enkindled by our unremitting efforts in the field of service to transform, not only our inner life, but also the life of our society. We become enkindled and aspire to live up to these words:
Make me as a lamp shining throughout Thy lands that those in whose hearts the light of Thy knowledge gloweth and the yearning for Thy love lingereth may be guided by its radiance.4
As we become enkindled, our capacity to brighten those places and spaces we inhabit takes on new meaning. We now have a responsibility to brighten. We endeavor to take on, in the most unassuming and humble forms, the transcendent reality described by the Bab:
Though the ocean of woe rageth on every side, and the bolts of fate follow in quick succession, and the darkness of griefs and afflictions invade soul and body, yet is My heart brightened by the remembrance of Thy countenance and My soul is as a rose garden from the perfume of Thy nature.5
When we are brighteners, we fear nothing in the face of oppression, turmoil and hurt. We are neither attached, nor detached, we are neither here nor there, we are of the Bright Band of God, seeking with all sincerity to be those bright hearts in a desolate world consoling and inspiring those around us to keep moving towards our bright future, always kindled by the remembrance of the Grace that is ours.
The Bringer of Delight
We are bringers of delight by being true friends to humanity. Abdul-Baha says:
O ye friends of God! True friends are even as skilled physicians, and the Teachings of God are as healing balm, a medicine for the conscience of man. They clear the head, so that a man can breathe them in and delight in their sweet fragrance. They waken those who sleep. They bring awareness to the unheeding, and a portion to the outcast, and to the hopeless, hope.6
By bringing delight, we bring hope and in bringing hope, we provide spiritual healing. In this way, we can be agents and physicians in the healing process of the world.
To conclude, I personally recommend taking some time to read this most potent of prayers not just when you require healing but whenever you desire to grow and bring the life-enriching emanations of the Creator to your being. I think that the recitations of these names and titles uplift and energise the soul. They move it to action. They heal us by their imperative for action and reflection.
I believe that healing our souls and our societies from the maladies of self is a daily, rigorous and challenging enterprise — a challenge that could be dealt with by releasing our latent potential to be enkindlers, brighteners and bringers of delight to humanity.
- Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 33 [↩]
- Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 260 [↩]
- The Universal House of Justice, 2007 Ridvan Message [↩]
- Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 152 [↩]
- Abdu’l-Baha, The Traveller’s Narrative, p. 13 [↩]
- Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 23 [↩]