Update on Rifqa Bary/Prayer by Yogananda

I’ve had time to reflect more on this prayer request. I remain deeply moved by the story, and I am so grateful for this answered prayer, which some have referred to as modern day David and Goliath story. It is very important to feel gratitude when prayers are answered. It is a form of God’s presence in this world.

This was an important first step, and many wheels are in motion now to help her in the court. Her next hearing is on September 3, and prayers would be very good for that.

“I’ve been a Christian for 4 years of my life. I love my parents but I am in fear of my life because of the past abuse. I assure your honor, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior”
Rifqa Bary, age 17, courtroom statement (excerpt)

Her court room scene reminded me a bit of St. Francis declaring to the ecclesiastical court, “I will no longer say, ‘My father, Pietro Bernadone’, but, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven…’

It is important to pray to support her right for religious freedom and safety. Simultaneously, we must remain mindful that those who are in error, are still God’s children, as well, and to keep our hearts immersed in God’s love.

In my years in the prayer ministry, I have sometimes prayed for some very difficult situations, such as war torn areas, and for the soul of a murdered girl, and much more. It is almost automatic in such cases to want to pick sides, and say one is the bad guy. Of course, there are bad actions and motives, and these bring pain and misery to the victims, and also to the perpetrator, sooner or later. For karma is exact, and we are all connected.

It is important to pray for the vulnerable party, while being careful to “judge not” the erring party. We can assess them as “the erring party” – but not condemn them as such in our hearts, for all are God’s children – even those in error. I’m am not saying this to excuse them from their bad karma, but simply to say that we are not the ones to stand in judgment. For if our hearts close up in harsh judgment, we block the flow of grace within us, and a side effect is that we will burn out, and not be able to pray as effectively about the bigger issues.

These are my lessons and insights drawn from prayer experience. Others, however, will have the karma to fight evil more outwardly and directly. Thank God for that. We need any and all forces for the Light. Even so – in any form of service to spreading Light, they will be more effective if their hearts can remain as clear as possible.

All – ultimately – are seeking happiness, or at least the avoidance of pain. Even honor killing, despicable though it is, can be seen in that light. It comes from a very strong and harsh world view that teaches certain things must be nipped in the bud, or else the whole culture goes down. It doesn’t really matter why (in terms of prayer). What does matter is that we strive to keep our own hearts free from hateful polarization. Any person, once touched by God’s grace, can change in a heartbeat. We never know when that moment will come, but painful events often bring the most growth. It may seem unlikely, but it keeps our hearts open to remember the possibility is there.

However, we need to keep our eyes wide open. We can and should assess the situation, and pray for the one most vulnerable, and in immediate need of help. In this case, I still say it is the daughter, Rifqa Bary, though some others in the media seem to say it is the maligned family and Muslim religion. Having reviewed a lot of information that has become public since I saw that first video, I firmly believe in the genuineness of her plight and need.

Paramhansa Yogananda says that healing depends on the power of the healer, and the receptivity of the patient. Rifqa has shown her receptivity to God’s grace in many ways. Some may argue that we should pray to change the causative factors that exist in her family, or her former religion, but again, the above statement would guide us in this: “the power of the healer (do you have that much power?) and the receptivity of the patient”- (do they look all that receptive right now?).

However, even as we pray for Rifqa Bary, some of the prayer glow, so to speak, may also change those who may seek to harm her. I wouldn’t count on it as a the main method of safety for her (that would be naive) but I am saying it could be one side-effect of the prayers for her. It remains to be seen.

Here’s a healing testimonial from many years ago:

A woman asked us for prayers because a man had been stalking her and making harassing phone calls. She did not know his name. We only had her name, so we put her on the prayer list, asking for her to be protected.

About a month later I got a letter from her in which she said that after several weeks, the man called her and said, “I am the one who has been stalking you and calling you, and I want to let you know I won’t be doing that anymore.”

It felt as though the prayerful light within and around her magnetized goodness to come to her, and in that way changed him. I also see this in Rifqa’s case. The prayers for her magnetized goodness toward her, in the form of the Governor of Florida and the judge, and many people who sympathize with her plight.

Many times when praying for people in troubling circumstances, I will feel a blessing or grace in answer to that prayer – and then I will simply watch (as I continue to pray each day) and see how the positive force manifests itself. (“Manifest thy healing presence….) This will sometimes then guide me in my prayers, as well, for the area of receptivity has been made more apparent.

So, even though I don’t personally feel inspired, or able, to pray effectively to change the big causative factors in Rifqa’ case, I do recognize that those factors are ultimately mutable, for all souls are part of God.

I offer this video poem below, which seems very fitting for this prayer update on Rifqa. It includes wonderful inspiration on each soul’s need and right to be free in God, and also encourages us to see God in all, even in our “error-intoxicated” brothers.

May all souls be free.

by Paramhansa Yogananda
Voice: Swami Kriyananda


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