The following prayer was composed and recited by Dr. Martin Luther King over 50 years ago. I think it is especially meaningful on the eve of this historic inauguration; of the first black man to the presidency of the United States. The long night of the past certainly has been very long for a great many Americans, but a great bright hope has finally been realized. One particular passage stands out to me, and I have highlighted it. Embodied within this prayer is the notion that prayer itself is not enough, that God also calls us to action. At times the goal may seem impossible, just as a black president must have seemed impossible to many in 1956. But King and other civil rights leaders decided to take the long view of things, the view that God most certainly must have. They not only prayed for justice, they worked hard for it.
We come to 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.
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 up on they Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and prayer, 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 God’s children, Black, White, Red, and Yellow will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the kingdom of our Lord and of God, we pray.