In his autobiography, Billy Graham recounts the moments after hearing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death in 1968: “Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history.” As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are taking a look back at the invocation he led at Billy Graham’s New York City Crusade on July 18, 1957, at Madison Square Garden. (You can listen to the prayer on the Billy Graham Center Archives (Wheaton College) website.)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Let us pray. Oh God our heavenly Father out of whose mind this great cosmic universe has been created towards whom the weary and perplexed of all generations turn for consolation and direction. We come before Thy Presence this evening thanking thee for the many blessings of life. We come recognizing our dependence on Thee. We also come, Oh God, with an awareness of the fact that we have not always given our lives to that which is hard and noble. In the midst of all the hard and noble aspects of justice we followed injustice. We stand amid the forces of truth and yet we deliberately lie. We stand amid the compelling urgency of the Lord of the earth as exemplified in the life Jesus Christ yet we live our lives so often in the dungeons of hate. For all of these sins, Oh God, forgive. And In these days of emotional tension when the problems of the world are dynamic in extent and chaotic in detail give us penetrating vision, broad understanding, the power of endurance and abiding faith and save us from the paralysis of crippling fear. Oh God, we ask you to help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world and for the brotherhood that transcends race or color. We thank thee this evening for the marvelous things which have been done in this city thru the dynamic preaching of this great evangelist. We ask thee, oh God, to continue blessing him. Give him continued power and authority that as we listen to him tonight grant that our hearts and spirits will be open to the Divine influence. All these things we ask in the name of Him who taught us to pray, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen”