Praying after MLK Jr.
In bold are the leadership lessons I took away from that week’s class from the life and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.– and in response, the prayers of my heart
MLK Jr. chose ministry over academia.
God, grant me the ability to keep choosing you and your work over and above the allure of other paths—perhaps in order to tread on those good paths with pure intent and honest integrity. For a while, you’ve been gradually leading me to a sense that I’m to go there eventually, but I’ve been wondering how to walk on those paths without losing my way. And I think this is your response: you are the way – and I’m invited to abide, and walk with you, on you, to you. Jesus, I want to know you and your heart so well, my eyes will lift off the page and others will see I’m looking above their heads and speaking in love to you. And as I do so, calling them to come and do the same.
He made the geographical decision to return to the South.
Lord, I know you are sovereign. Over my life, over my marriage to John. We are still waiting on you. I genuinely believe that here or in DC or elsewhere, you have good and wonderful things in store, communities to strengthen and bless, genuine rest for us before future work. I wish we could commit and choose Cambridge and Boston over Washington DC – but I don’t sense you leading us to that. But instead to wait – on you and for each other, in quietness and trust.
Having made that big decision first made the subsequent and smaller decisions easier.
Lord of the Sabbath, the clearest thing I’ve heard from you is to take a sabbatical. Before anything comes next. To fully rest and ask you for refreshment, nourishment, deep waters for me to drink from. Give me the words to explain to others that I must say no to certain invitations to say yes to you. Help me find the places and the people who will help me experience you anew.
MLK Jr. internalized the prophetic discourse so much so that the structure of his speech reflected that.
Word of God, word made flesh: I have missed living in your story. I have sorely missed soaking in your words, such that your words are somehow mine when I listen to others and feel prompted by you to respond. Wake me up with a desire and a yearning for your word. Tuck me in after giving me time with you. As I prepare for upcoming events, hide your word in my heart.
He was a patriot and a prophet – and was not afraid to be an orator and a voice.
I do, Lord, I fear and am uncertain. My tongue, like Moses, doesn’t feel strong or commanding. If I had a brother to put before myself, I would. But I do not. And I sense your invitation once again. I thank you for a message in my mouth that rings true when others listen. If it’s helpful to others, help me form my words with greater care, prayerful preparation – to be an orator and a voice, and step further into your call on my life.
He didn’t reduce tension as an agitator, but created tension to produce action – so action was irresistible and inaction was intolerable.
Lord, you know us so well. You know what is too much, what is just right, what makes us move. You must be the one pressing on the coil, releasing the spring. You made cheetahs spring into action, dolphins to arc through the air. Gather us, stir us up, send us forth. Your kingdom come, your will be done. You will prepare me for the part I will play, I will not worry. Give me joy and help me have fun and experience you as I learn my role. Show me which injustice breaks your heart – that too few care for. Make room in my heart to receive your call.
April 13, 2011