FASTING DAY 11: Learning to Rely on God

The Fast is the time for prayer, mediation, and critical examination of our lives to make sure our actions are in accordance with God’s Will for us. It is a time of alignment. It is not a time for us to beg the Creator to change His Will so that it suits our needs, but instead to change our will so that our actions are acceptable to God.

I memorized the 23rd Psalm at a very young age and it has stayed with me always. I’ll share in today’s reflection some of the wisdom in this verse. His Holiness Christ said that when “the Spirit of Truth shall come, He shall lead you to all truth.” We are so fortunate today to be able to receive that truth.


The Lord is our shepherd. A shepherd guides and protects. Individually we are powerless over a virus, a war, health conditions, the supply chains, or even acts of nature. So are you trusting in God to guide you or are you following in the footsteps of mortal man (and woman) and allowing the fear-based dogma of lack, untimely death, a shrinking pie, or a poverty mindset to stress or paralyze you? Are you going it alone or are you accepting the divine guidance always available to you? Are you silent and inwardly focused enough to hear the Divine speak to you or are you too inundated and overwhelmed by too much bad news? Although the 23rd Psalm from the Bible was shared over 2000 years ago, more recent guidance that Christ foretold of and shared here confirms the lasting truth of this wisdom today. We need not be confused, or feel alone or unsafe, for we are promised a Comforter and guide if we were obedient.

“And among the teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity; that all human beings are the sheep of God and He is the kind Shepherd. This Shepherd is kind to all the sheep, because He created them all, trained them, provided for them and protected them. There is no doubt that the Shepherd is kind to all the sheep and should there be among these sheep ignorant ones, they must be educated; if there be children, they must be trained until they reach maturity; if there be sick ones, they must be cured. There must be no hatred and enmity, for as by a kind physician these ignorant, sick ones should be treated.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 285)


Wanting is a strange emotion. It focuses on what we DON’T HAVE instead of WHAT WE DO HAVE. It presumes that we do not have something we think we need and thus we are never content with the moment. It also ignores the reality that we are not alone and that God has already supplied all of our needs; we just need to follow the Shepherd in faith to the “green pastures” ahead to experience them. In reality, in this moment, most people have all that they need. But, because they fear the next moment, they forfeit the joy in the current moment and the opportunity to be grateful. Change only occurs in the current moment, and worrying about the future and regretting or angry about something in the past causes many to forfeit precious opportunities. And, since a grateful heart attracts blessings, they miss out on the opportunity to attract more which makes them to continue to “want!” In the Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah exhorts us:

O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings.

In the long obligatory prayer, we are instructed to desire or want only what God wants and to love only what God loves:

O Thou the Desire of the world and the Beloved of the nations! Thou seest me turning toward Thee, and rid of all attachment to anyone save Thee, and clinging to Thy cord, through whose movement the whole creation hath been stirred up. I am Thy servant, O my Lord, and the son of Thy servant. Behold me standing ready to do Thy will and Thy desire, and wishing naught else except Thy good pleasure.


Sometimes we have to be made to just be still. Once we were are all so busy rushing here and there, that we never had time to be still, connect with those we love, or to just lie down. Just as a parent has to sometimes MAKE a child brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, or lie down and go to sleep, (because they know what is best for the child), sometimes we too are given circumstances that make us see that our current pastures are not green, verdant, and healthy but brown, dying, and unhealthy. The point is sometimes we have to be made to do what is best for us and only later will we realize the lesson.

Every flock of the sheep of God which is protected under the shadow of the Divine Shepherd will not be scattered, but when the sheep are dispersed from the flock, they will necessarily be caught and torn by the wolf. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to flock together! It is incumbent upon you to be united! It is incumbent upon you to expose yourselves to the fragrances of God at every time and moment! (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 285)

Now, continuing with the analogy of the sheep to teach us a human lesson, the Shepherd knows where the green pastures are and leads the willing sheep to it. The key is that they have to be willing to follow. Those that wander away make themselves willing prey for wolves and also subject themselves to possible starvation. BUT, If they choose to follow, they will be protected and led to all that they need. In the green pastures, they will be able to eat their fill and lie down afterwards in safety. Lying down implies that they feel safe and protected and can rest in peace.


This was the verse I reflected most on today. When the whole world is facing one common fear, a deadly virus, we know that faith, surrender, and letting go is the only option. “He restoreth my soul”, for I feel that my soul is being restored by leaps and bounds. The Fast does that for me and like nature, I’m being prepared to greet the Spring in a few days. Restore means to return to a former state.

Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing [God] hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 27.

We were all born pure and holy at birth, wanting and needing nothing that God did not supply. I have been fasting since March 2nd, and I feel renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated. When you spend time in prayerful meditation, seeking only to do God’s Will, to be of service to the world, and having complete certitude that you are being purified, guided, and refilled, it’s a wonderful feeling. We are told that if we Ask, we will receive. I asked, I received!


We each are gifted with a consciousness, a heart, and a conscience. The Holy Writings from each of God’s Messengers were sent down to teach us the right way. We are even told to first seek this kingdom of God and His righteous as the primary goals in our lives, and then all other things will be given to us.

The divine Manifestations since the day of Adam have striven to unite humanity so that all may be accounted as one soul. The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The prophets of God have been divine shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom.

They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace. All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God, promulgated the same truth, founded the same institutions and reflected the same light. Their appearances have been successive and correlated; each one has announced and extolled the one who was to follow and all laid the foundation of reality. (Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 14)

Abdul-Baha wrote: This day is the day of truth and righteousness! This day is the day of conciliation and beatitude! This day is the day of awakening and enkindlement! (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 4)


Bahaullah warns us that we are surrounded by darkness, but reminds us of how we need not fear, for we are not alone.

At all times I am near unto thee, but thou art ever far from Me . . . While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance. Bahá’u’lláh, The Persian Hidden Words 21

I pray that everyone has a wonderful day, stays safe, and realizes that you already have everything that you need and that Divine guidance and protection is always there. We are spiritual beings just having a material experience and our souls are safe from this particular virus. When we focus with gratitude and faith on what we have, eventually “our cup will run over” and “goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of your life.”

Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety. Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 60

YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! Fear is simply the absence of faith. Fear dissolves, shrinks, fades, and disappears in the presence of true faith. Fear and faith cannot reside in the same heart. You’ve got to choose one or the other. While fear appears powerful in the garb of the big bad wolf, fear in reality has no power over you unless you believe in it more than faith in the Shepherd guiding you through the valley.


“Thou art with me.” Since we can experience a bit of heaven while still on earth, if we live in the Spirit, perhaps we can be heartened by a glimpse of how it might feel to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We were created to work toward the betterment of the world as we serve others in the way we wish to have our Creator bless us. All we need do, is find a need and fill it. Many are in need; exercise your opportunity to serve! I will conclude with this quote from ‘The Hidden Words.’

O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah

Happy Fasting

FASTING DAY 10: Are We All Tested for the Same Reasons?

In our last reflection we talked about tests being gifts and benefits from God. But, does it seem fair that the tests are the same whether we do good or evil, or whether we serve humanity or are self-serving?

Aren’t tests sometimes the result of chastisement for things that we have done wrong? Abdul-Baha responded to that very question:

Thou hast questioned concerning ordeals and difficulties and catastrophes: “Are these from God or the result of man’s (own) evil deeds? (1)”

“Know thou that ordeals are of two kinds: One kind is for trial (to test the soul), and the other is punishment for actions. (“As a man soweth so shall he also reap.”) (2)

“That which is for testing is educational and developmental and that which is the punishment of deeds is severe retribution.

The father and the teacher sometimes humor the children and then again discipline them.
This discipline is for educational purposes and is indeed to give them true happiness; it is absolute kindness and true providence. Although in appearance it is wrath yet in reality it is kindness. Although outwardly it is an ordeal yet inwardly it is purifying water.

Verily, in both cases we must supplicate and implore and commune to the divine Threshold in order to be patient in ordeals.(3) ”

Abdu’l-Bahá further explains the role of service, steadfastness, and faith during tests:

“Tests endured in the path of God are conducive to confirmation, nay, rather, they are heavenly powers and the bounties of the realm of Might.

But to the weak believers’ tests are trials and examination, for, on account of the weakness of their faith and assurance they fall into difficulties and vicissitudes. However, to those souls who are firm and steadfast, tests are the greatest favours.“(4)

Let’s unpack this. “Tests endured in the path of God are conducive to confirmation.” So, the question we must ask ourselves is, are our tests in the path of God or self? Because, it appears that everything leads back to deeds and faith. Reflect on that it is “on account of the weakness” of our faith that we “fall into difficulties and vicissitudes.”

Often during severe tests, we feel despair and hopeless when we have the choice to respond with faith, assurance, and certitude. Remember ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s promises?

“As ye have faith, so shall your powers and blessings be (5) ,” and that if we have faith, “Nothing is impossible.(6) “

We must be firm and steadfast during tests and not give up; that is what faith is and how we pass our tests. The stronger the faith, the stronger the heavenly powers, bounties, and favors we receive. So, while all are tested, everyone doesn’t fare the same from the tests. Some become impotent from tests while others shine and continue to serve.

I’ll close with another analogy:

“Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.(7) ”

Walking the spiritual path together
Barbara Talley

1. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: From Tablet to Portland, Oregon, believer; translated 27 July 1909. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 5)

2. Bible paraphrased


4. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 5)

5. Abdu’l-Bahá from An Early Pilgrimage by Mrs May Maxwell, (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 5)


7. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 51)

Fasting Day 9: Let’s Talk About Tests

Remember that …

the “the fasting period” is “essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul.” (1)

Change is challenging. We are rarely comfortable with the unknown. We like that which is familiar, and yet we are here to keep growing, to keep advancing in the unknown, to become the best versions of ourselves.

“Naturally there will be periods of distress and difficulty, and even severe tests; but if that person turns firmly towards the Divine Manifestation, studies carefully His Spiritual teachings and receives the blessings of the Holy Spirit, he will find that in reality these tests and difficulties have been the gifts of God to enable him to grow and develop.” (2)

Many wonder why they are tested so harshly and consistently when others around seem to not be tested at all. They view such tests as punishment for which they don’t feel they deserve. Some remark that they should just stop trying to be so good and maybe they would have fewer tests.

It may seem that way, however, but in this Divine School, tests are sent to us as a blessing and we are told that we should actually be grateful that we are the ones being tested, because tests are gifts from God to us. 

I know this concept is hard to grasp, but as Christ said,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. ”(3)

‘Abdul-Baha explained,

“Tests are benefits from God, for which we should thank Him. Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting.”(4)

Did you hear that? Tests do not come to us by chance. They are sent to us! You didn’t necessarily attract them, nor can you escape them all! In school, we expect to be tested, but in life, people fear, shun, and hate tests. But, if we realized that these tests are sent to us, not as punishment, but instead for our perfecting, perhaps they would be more bearable.

Fortunately for our own good, we can’t escape these tests,(or opportunities for perfection). And, if we do, we are told we should pray to have them sent to us. 

Now, I don’t know too many people who pray to be tested more. I jokingly remark that, “Why would I pray for tests, when they are lined up around the block awaiting their turn?”

So, stop beating yourself up wondering what you did wrong, maybe you did something right! We know that we were created to know and love God, but on this earth, we frequently get distracted. I know I do and the tests humble me.

Abdul-Baha explains that when things are good, we sometimes forget God.

“While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelm him, then will he remember his Father who is in Heaven, and who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.” (5)

Remember Abdul-Baha’s admonition?

“Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. ”(6).

Now perhaps we understand why? Fasting is more than just not eating. 

Walking the spiritual path together.
Barbara Talley

1) Shoghi Effendi: (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 233

2) Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, pp. 18-19 (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 70)

3) Isaiah 55:8-13 KJV

4) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 51)

5) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 51)

6) (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 129

Fasting Day 8: Spiritually Packing for Eternity

The Fast is a time for us to re-calibrate, so to speak, to refocus our vision, to balance our lives in accordance with the Divine laws and guidance, to detach ourselves from this world of dust, and to prepare for the eternal life. However, these vital actions should all be daily habits and not just confined to the Fasting period. Perhaps, we should reflect on what is at stake after the end of this earthly sojourn, so to reinforce the critical value of this time.

So much of our energy is drained seeking earthly things, that many do not have the time or attraction to pray, meditate, and to offer selfless service to others.

His Holiness Christ warned about putting off our spiritual duties in Matthew 6:34,

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (King James Bible)

We know, as spiritual beings, that we have a limited amount of time here in this physical state, which is less than the twinkling of an eye when compared to eternity, and, that we have serious spiritual work to do. Depending on our fruits, at our end, we will either experience, “a joy and gladness that is impossible to describe” or a “fear and trembling that nothing can exceed! Hasn’t Baha’u’llah cautioned us to begin with the end in mind and to bring ourselves to account each day, nay, every moment of our lives?

Set before thine eyes God’s unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that Balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life.

Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning, on the Day when no man shall have strength to stand for fear of God, the Day when the hearts of the heedless ones shall be made to tremble.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 235)

We are encouraged and guided to prepare for the afterlife, like we would for any trip we are excited about, especially one that brings us ever closer to God. A life that is lived right will see death “as a messenger of joy,” something to look forward to and to not fear. That is why it is critically important to “seek the Kingdom first” and to get our spiritual packing done because we know not the hour or day that we will be “summoned to a reckoning.”

“It is clear and evident that all men shall, after their physical death, estimate the worth of their deeds, and realize all that their hands have wrought. I swear by the Day Star that shineth above the horizon of Divine power!

They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe, while they that live in error shall be seized with such fear and trembling, and shall be filled with such consternation, as nothing can exceed. Well is it with him that hath quaffed the choice and incorruptible wine of faith through the gracious favor and the manifold bounties of Him Who is the Lord of all Faiths….

The souls of the infidels, however, shall — and to this I bear witness —
when breathing their last be made aware of the good things that have escaped them, and shall bemoan their plight, and shall humble themselves before God. They shall continue doing so after the separation of their souls from their bodies.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 170)

So, get excited and be grateful! The Fast is a special time of cleansing and forgiveness when, “Thou (God) hast:
—–> UNLOCKED doors of thy bounty
—–> OPENED wide the portals of Thy tender mercy
—–> ENDOWED every hour with a special virtue
—–> ENABLED to have fellowship with Thee
—–> RAINED down that which beseemeth Thy grace and befitted thy bounty
—–>CAUSED this hour to excel every other hour”

We should praise God every hour, even every minute for this Fast when His special bounties and mercies are raining down upon us and offering us a fresh start. Ponder the fact that JUSTICE is giving you what you deserve, while MERCY is clemency, forgiveness, and compassion. Praise be to God that He is opening wide the portals of His tender mercy.

Clearly, there will be reckoning of our lives and while we may forget, “guardian angels” are taking note as warned in the Holy Qur’an, 

16. It was We who created man and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.

17. Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings)
learn (and not them), one sitting on the right and one on the left

18. Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it).

19. And the stupor of death will bring truth (before his eyes): “This was the thing which thou wast trying to escape!”

20. And the Trumpet shall be blown: that will be the Day whereof warning (had been given).

21. And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness.

22. (It will be said:) “Thou wast heedless of this; now have We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this Day!” 23. And his companion will say: “Here is (his record) ready with me!”

No one escapes a reckoning or final accounting. The Fast is a special time to get our “spiritual packing” done so that we are prepared for the next life. Perhaps it would benefit us to begin with the end in mind to place this earthly sojourn into perspective.

“Attach not thyself to anything unless in it thou seest the reality of God – this is the first step into the court of eternity. The earth life lasts but a short time, even its benefits are transitory; that which is temporary does not deserve our heart’s attachment. (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 134)

“The essence of true safety is to observe silence, to look at the end of things and to renounce the world. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 156)

Happy Fasting

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FASTING Day 7: The Critical Necessity of Faith!

“The first sign of faith is love.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá promises, “if we have faith, “Nothing is impossible.” So to be clear, we can’t have faith without love, because love is the first sign. On this side of the sod, we sometimes experience doubt, worry, fear, and even despair. We want to believe, but at times, circumstances often become overwhelming. If that happens and we desire greater bounty from God, perhaps we may wish to ponder these encouraging words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá,

Nothing will be impossible to you if you have faith.”


Bahá’u’lláh explains,

“The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know verily his death is better than his life.” (1)

“For faith, which is life eternal, is the sign of bounty, and not the result of justice.” (2)

Bahá’u’lláh explains further,

“faith is an endowment from the Higher Kingdom and changes all beliefs into an aliveness in the spirit. The quickening of the soul renews the atoms of the body to the very marrow of the bone … The capacity for response to sorrows … has been heightened greatly. “(3)


Bahá’u’lláh said faith leads to “renewing the atoms of the body to the very narrow of the bone!!!! Meditate on that and these other meanings:

“Regard thou faith as a tree. Its fruits, leaves, boughs and branches are, and have ever been, trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness and forbearance. (4)

“Sincerity is the foundation-stone of faith. That is, a religious individual must disregard his personal desires and seek in whatever way he can wholeheartedly to serve the public interest; and it is impossible for a human being to turn aside from his own selfish advantages and sacrifice his own good for the good of the community except through true religious faith.” (5)


The first sign of faith is love. (6)

“To acquire faith man must cast out the ’stranger’ from his heart. To the extent that he succeeds in doing this, he will acquire faith. Once the spark of faith is ignited within the heart it must be allowed to grow steadily into a flame, otherwise it could die because of attachment to this world.” (7)

The Holy Bible describes it this way: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

But hope is not enough. Only through the power of faith, can we achieve the impossible, but not through just any old faith. ‘Abdul-Baha explains that we must also 1)rise up in the Cause, 2) be filled with the Holy Spirit, and 3)have faith that is steadfast as a rock!

I say unto you that any one who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time shall be filled with the spirit of God, and that He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be impossible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a Covenant between you and me: that ye have faith; that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end; even should ye hear that your Lord has been crucified, be not shaken in your faith; for I am with you always, whether living or dead; I am with you to the end.

As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the standard—this is the standard—this is the standard.”


Bahá’u’lláh shares another critical ingredient for faith, SUBMISSION!

“Faith comes to a man through submission to God. The surrendering of the self with all its accomplishments renders the soul free of attachment to this mortal world. It drives the ’stranger’ away from the heart and enables him to receive the ‘Friend’ within its sanctuary.”

“Bahá’u’lláh states: O Son of Man! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee… In another passage He reveals: O Son of Man! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.” (9)

As you can see, the human spirit cannot become heavenly without faith.

“But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished, and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets. (10)

In conclusion, remember ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”s promise, “As ye have faith, so shall your powers and blessings be,” and that if we have faith, “Nothing is impossible.”

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (11)

1) (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 156)

2)(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129)

3)(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. vi.)

4) (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 327

5) (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 96-97

6) (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 336)

7) (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 217-218)

9) (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 220)

10) (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 316)

11 (Matthew 17:20, King James Bible)