Prayer Station: Prayer for America, and for Race Unity

This Monday, this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the evening before Inauguration Day, seemed a good time for a prayer for America, and for race unity. A group of friends gathered at my apartment to read selections from the Sacred Writings of world religion, but also from the words of the man whose life this day celebrates:

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
(Martin Luther King)

A few days ago a man moving from New Jersey, having visited the ArlingtonBahai.org website, was seeking contact with the local Baha’is. So we invited him to this prayer meeting and he came and contributed with a lovely recitation of the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

The central message of the prayer gathering was of unity, America, and the hope it brings for the world:

This revered American nation presents evidences of greatness and worth. It is my hope that this just government will stand for peace so that warfare may be abolished throughout the world and the standards of national unity and reconciliation be upraised. This is the greatest attainment of the world of humanity. This American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world and be blest in the East and the West for the triumph of its democracy. I pray that this may come to pass, and I ask the blessing of God in behalf of you all.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 103)

The song that opened the readings selections was from Matthew Levine’s CD “A House Divided“. I had written about “A House Divided” already:

No more living in a house divided, lost in the dead of the night.
As one people we will stand united, holding onto the light.

The closing song of this remarkable album is a true¬† gem which brought a very appropriate ending to an evening of prayers and fellowship – “A Home That Forever Will Stand”.

The readings were dominated by the theme of race unity:

You have written that there were several meetings of joy and happiness, one for white and another for colored people. Praise be to God! As both races are under the protection of the All-Knowing God, therefore the lamps of unity must be lighted in such a manner in these meetings that no distinction be perceived between the white and colored. Colors are phenomenal, but the realities of men are essence. When there exists unity of the essence what power has the phenomenal? When the light of reality is shining what power has the darkness of the unreal? If it be possible, gather together these two races, black and white, into one Assembly, and put such love into their hearts that they shall not only unite but even intermarry. Be sure that the result of this will abolish differences and disputes between black and white. Moreover, by the Will of God, may it be so. This is a great service to humanity.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 359)

The culmination was, of course, the prayer for America:

O Thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. These hearts are radiant with Thy love. These minds and spirits are exhilarated by the message of Thy glad tidings. O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.
– Abdu’l-Baha

May tomorrow be a peaceful day of celebrating the potential for healing and for growth. The future of humanity is bright!

We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem Us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment…. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this?… Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come…. Yet do We see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind…. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family…. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind….
(Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. viii)

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