“If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual…” — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The family unit is the nucleus of human society. It provides a vital setting for the development of praiseworthy qualities and capacities. Through its harmonious functioning and the development and maintenance of the bonds of love that join together its members, it gives constant expression to the truth that the well-being of the individual is inextricably bound to the progress and well-being of others.
A fundamental role of the family is to raise children who can assume responsibility for both their own spiritual growth and their participation in the advancement of civilization. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that the mother and father of a child should “as a duty…strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son”, and Bahá’í parents, who bear the primary responsibility for the upbringing of their children, are to be ever mindful of their duty in this connection. But the education of children is not only the responsibility of the parents. The community also has an important role to play and the Bahá’í community gives considerable attention to the subject. Indeed, classes, open to all, for the spiritual and moral education of children are typically among the first activities to be pursued by Bahá’ís in a locality.
Service and worship are at the heart of the pattern of community life that Bahá’ís around the world are trying to bring into being. They are two distinct, yet inseparable elements that propel the life of the community forward. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes that, “Success and prosperity depend upon service to and worship of God”.
Prayer is integral to Bahá’í life, whether at the level of the individual, or the community. Bahá’ís turn their hearts in prayer to God repeatedly throughout the day, seeking His assistance, supplicating Him on behalf of loved ones, offering praise and gratitude, and seeking divine confirmations and guidance. In addition, meetings of consultation and gatherings where Baha'is come together to undertake one or another project commonly begin and end with prayers.
Bahá’ís also host gatherings in which friends, Bahá’ís and others alike, unite together in prayer, often in one another’s homes. Devotional meetings such as these serve to awaken spiritual susceptibilities within the participants, and together with the acts of service they perform, lead to a pattern of community life that is instilled with the spirit of devotion and focused on the attainment of spiritual and material prosperity.