A Prayer by Martin Luther King, Jr.
O God, our heavenly Father, we thank thee for this golden privilege to worship thee, the only true God of the universe. We come to thee today grateful that thou hast kept us through the long night of the past and ushered us into the challenge of the present and the bright hope of the future. We are mindful, O God, that man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things and humanity is not God.
Bound by our chains of sin and finiteness, we know we need a savior. We thank thee, O God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are in nature but we live above nature. Help us never to let anyone or any condition pull us so low as to cause us to hate. Give us the strength to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us.
We thank thee for thy Church, founded upon the Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon thee. Then, finally, help us to realize that man was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity.
Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace, help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all of God’s children — Black, White, Red, and Yellow — will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the kingdom of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.
Source: Harold A. Carter’s Prayer Tradition of Black People (1985)
“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God.”
–Martin Luther King Jr.I remember the time that MLK day became a national holiday. My mother had just remarried, and I wasn’t too fond of my stepfather, at the time, for various reasons. Namely because it meant my parents could not reunite. Jim got the day off work on this first MLK day, but he was disgruntled. “Martin Luther King (Jr) doesn’t deserve a holiday, he was just a trouble-maker,” said Jim. Needless to say, this infuriated me, and I liked my mother’s husband even less. I realized Jim didn’t see Martin Luther King as a non-violent Christian brother-in-Christ who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs, and for standing up for equality, justice, harmony, and God’s love to reign. Finally, I swallowed my anger, and I said, “Just be thankful that he gave you the day off.” To that he commented, “Yeah, I guess that’s the good part.” Each year, this conversation would take place, in some form, but thankfully Jim grew less hostile, overall. One of my favorite things about MLK is that he lived out his worldview which was completely sold out to God, as the center of reality, and God’s ways (love.) To him, this was the answer, the remedy for human weakness, and injustice. It was the way toward redemption, peace, and equality this country was supposedly founded on. His Christian beliefs were thoroughly sincere and ruled his heart, life, and actions. That is inspirational to me, and something to celebrate!
What reflections do you have about MLK, his prayer posted above, or the holiday day we have to celebrate his life?