African-American Prayer Meeting after the end of the U. S. Civil War
SUNDAY MORNING PRAYERS FROM THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHURCH
From Conversations With God: Two Centuries of African-American Prayers,
ed. James Melvin Washington, pp. 56, 145; © 1994, HarperCollins.
Almighty and all wise God our heavenly Father! ’tis once more and again that a few of your beloved children are gathered together to call upon your holy name. We bow at your foot-stool of mercy, Master, to thank you for our spared lives. We thank you that we were able to get up this morning clothed in our right mind, for Master, since we last met here, many have been snatched out of the land of the living and hurled into eternity. But through your goodness and mercy we have been spared to assemble ourselves here once more to call upon a Captain who never lost a battle.
Oh, throw round us your strong arms of protection. Bind us together in love and union. Build us up where we are torn down and strengthen us where we are weak. Oh Lord! take the lead of our minds, place them on heaven and on heavenly divine things. Oh God, our Captain and King! search our hearts and if you find anything there contrary to your divine will, just move it from us Master, as far as the east is from the west.
Now Lord, you know our hearts, you know our heart’s desire. You know our down-setting and our up-rising. Lord you know all about us because you made us. Lord! Lord! One more kind favor I ask of you. Remember the man that is to stand in the gateway and proclaim your Holy Word this morning. Oh, stand by him. Strengthen him where he is weak and build him up where he is torn down. Oh, let him down into the deep treasures of your Word.
And now, Oh Lord; when this your humble servant is done down here in this low land of sorrow; done sitting down and getting up; done being called everything but a child of God; oh; when I am done, done, done, and this old world can afford me a home no longer, right soon in the morning, Lord, right soon in the morning, meet me down at the River Jordan, bid the waters to be still, tuck my little soul away in that snow-white chariot, and bear it away over yonder in the third heaven where every day will be Sunday and my sorrows of this old world will have an end. This is my prayer for Christ’s my Redeemer’s sake and amen and thank God.
–Classic African-American Folk Prayer
Exodus 20:8 — Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Luke 4:16 — (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
Hebrews 10:25 — Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
O Lord, we come this morning knee bowed and body bent before thy throne of grace. We come this morning Lord, like empty pitchers before a full fountain, realizing that many who are better by nature than we are by practice have passed into that great beyond; and yet you have allowed us your humble servants to plod along just a few days longer here in this howling wilderness. We thank thee Lord that we arose this morning, and that our bed was not a cooling board, and our sheet was not a winding shroud. We are not gathered here for form or fashion, but we come in our humble way to serve thee. We thank thee Lord that we are clothed in our right mind– bless the sick and afflicted– those who are absent through no fault of their own. And when I have done prayed my last prayer and sung my last song, and when I’m done climbing the rough side of the mountain, when I come down to tread the steep and prickly banks of Jordan, meet me with thy rod and staff and bear me safely over. All these things I ask in Jesus’ name, world without end. Amen.
–An Old Prayer from the African-American Church