A prayer from MLK
January 12, 2024

A Prayer from Martin Luther King Jr.

God-shaped change won’t happen without prayer. To be an agent of such change one must rely on prayer—fervent daily prayer. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of prayer.

Here in the United States we are preparing to mark Martin Luther King Jr. day and are about to enter into Black History Month. This is a time to remember the courageous life of Martin Luther King Jr. and all those who came before him, worked with him, and have continued working towards equity for all, in the United States and around the world. This is a time for us to renew our commitment to God’s call for the world to be a beloved community where people are not judged by their race, ethnicity, gender, age, or ability, where people share equitably in all the riches of this good world, live in harmony with each other and creation, and are able to flourish. This is a time for us to renew our commitment to both action and prayer, because God-shaped change won’t happen without prayer.

Many of Martin Luther King Jr.’s prayers were collected by Lewis V. Baldwin in the book, “Thou, Dear God”: Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits (2012, Beacon Press). According to Baldwin, the following prayer was recorded in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956. I updated the language so as to not distract from the prayer itself if used in worship. If you do use this prayer in a public setting please acknowledge its origin.

We Live Above Nature

We thank you, O God, for our spiritual nature. 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 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. Then, finally, help us to realize that we were created to shine like 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…will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the kingdom of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.

– ©2012 by the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Image: Olga Tsikarishvili

Rev. Joyce Borger is senior editor of Reformed Worship and a resource development specialist at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.