A PASTORAL PRAYER (1956)
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 sins 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 anybody or any condition pull us so low as to cause us to hate. Give us strength to love our enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us.
We thank thee for thy Church, founded upon thy 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 stars and to 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 and Yellow will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the kingdom of our Lord and our God, we pray, Amen.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), as collected by James Melvin Washington in CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD: TWO CENTURIES OF PRAYERS BY AFRICAN AMERICANS. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994, p. 190.