May we pray. Eternal God, our Father, help us to love Thee with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and our neighbors as ourselves. And help us to realize that we have a moral responsibility to be good and conscientious but also to be intelligent. And grant that we will always reach out for that which is high, realizing that we are made for the stars, created for the everlasting, born for eternity. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Martin Luther King, Jr. From "Thou, Dear God": Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits.
Lewis V. Baldwin is professor of religious studies at Vanderbilt University and an ordained Baptist minister. An expert on black-church traditions, he is author of The Voice of Conscience: The Church in the Mind of Martin Luther King, Jr.; There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the editor of "Thou, Dear God": Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits, the first and only collection of prayers by Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Thou, Dear God": Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits represent the culmination of years of research and scholarship on the life, vision, and activities of Martin Luther King, Jr. I have authored five books on King, served as a co-author of two, and, recently, as the editor of the collection of King's prayers. All of these books take seriously the issue of King's cultural identity and legacy. My aim over the last two or more decades has been to capture as much as possible what constituted the essence of this phenomenal and often controversial figure. "Thou, Dear God" tell me that the answer ultimately lies in the core of King's spirituality, which includes, among other things, his prayers and his prayer life. These are a vital part of that cultural and spiritual bond which connects King to generations of his forebears and to that larger and broader history of Christian spirituality. They are also a part of that spiritual bond that links King to people of different faith claims and ideologies. Any perspective to the contrary misses the point of "Thou, Dear God."
Photo of Lewis V. Baldwin by Daniel Dubois.