Lord teach me to unselfishly serve humanity.
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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was both a prayer leader and a prayer teacher. This is how he understood much of his responsibility in his capacity as preacher, pastor, and civil rights leader. The prayers found in "Thou, Dear God": Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits support this claim. They are indeed quite instructive and useful for churches and other communities of faith that are seeking new avenues toward spiritual enlightenment and development. The prayers suggest spiritual approaches which could transform and uplift persons, while improving their own sense of what it means to function in positive, creative, and constructive ways in the world. In short, the prayers should be read for both their spiritual and educational value. Otherwise, an important dimension of what they offer gets lost.
Photo of Lewis V. Baldwin by Daniel Dubois.