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DAVID ADAMS takes a look at Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s, inspiring prayer for the church…


“We thank you for your church, founded upon your 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 you. Help us to realise that humanity 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 God’s children – Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow – will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen. “


CRYING OUT FOR THE CHURCH: Martin Luther King, Jr, depicted on the east front of Westminster Abbey, London. PICTURE: David Adams

US Christian preacher and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr, is known around the world for his stand against racial discrimination, most succinctly captured in his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.

But as well as for his public speaking skills, Rev Dr King was also known as a man of prayer, many of which – including the above prayer – have been collected together and published in the 2012 book edited by Lewis V Baldwin, Thou, Dear God: Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits.

This prayer is a simple yet eloquent summing up of how he saw the church of Jesus Christ. At the heart of this prayer is a bonded community of believers that works in peaceful unity with each other united in their common work to share the love of Christ in the world.

This is a people that express their faith not just in the private realm or within their sanctuaries but one which “goes out” and puts their shoulders to the plough as the hands of Christ in the world.

It’s also a cry for people to know the position God created them to occupy in this world – “created to shine like the stars”, not just for now but for eternity. And it’s about running the race to completion, about continuing the work to which we, the church have been called, in community with each other until that day when all will “rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord”.

As Rev Dr King said elsewhere – “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives”. This prayer cries out for that change to bring about the community that the church, in God, can be.


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