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Prerequisites for Spiritual Growth

The primary goal of the Bahá'í Faith is to change the world, to build God's Kingdom on Earth as promised in most religions. The focus of that change is each individual believer working daily to improve personal character, to be the change each one wants to see in the world.

In order to achieve that kind of transformation - personal and societal - one must begin at home, with one's own spiritual growth. This is a religion, not a social club or service organization, so the most important part of every day is devoted to spiritual development. The following are some of the prerequisites on which Bahá'ís concentrate:

* Prayer, morning and evening. In addition, recite each day one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion. "The obligatory prayers are binding inasmuch as they are conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face towards God and expressing devotion to Him. Through such prayer man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of one's heart, and attaineth spiritual stations." - 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, p. 8

* Study of the Sacred Scriptures every morning and evening with reverence, attention and thought. Even just a sentence or two, if carefully considered, will have a powerful effect on the rest of the day. "Should a person recite but a single verse from the Holy Writings in a spirit of joy and radiance, this would be better for him than reciting wearily all the Scriptures of God..." Bahá'u'lláh, ibid, p. 1

* Meditate on the teachings in order to better understand them and put them into practice. This is the most important step in the process, figuring out how what was read can be applied to some aspect of daily life.

* Strive every day to bring personal behavior more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Bahá'í teachings. The true source of change in the world is each individual's efforts to change him/herself for the better.

* Teach. In the Bahá'í Faith, as there are no clergy, teaching devolves upon the individual believer. Teaching however, does not mean words alone, or passing out pamphlets, or fund-raising for a cause. Teaching happens when living the life to the best of one's ability, mirroring the transformation desired in the world.

* Serve the Cause and pursue a trade or profession in selfless manner. Work done in the spirit of service is accorded the distinction of worship.

* Support the Cause by giving to the Fund. Only avowed believers may donate to the Bahá'í Faith, and although the gift is obligatory, the amount and form are not. Each gives privately and as best fits his/her finances. "... Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift... - Lights of Guidance, p. 249

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