A fifth-generation pastor, evangelist, and missionary is seizing Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on January 17, 2022, as a prayer gathering for believers who desire national change and transformation.
The founder of “Pray on MLK,” Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, is a black pastor who says he heard the Lord say, “Call America to Pray on MLK.” Thomas’s family tree includes African and Native American ministers dating back to slavery.
The inaugural Pray on MLK in August of 2020 gathered thousands across all 50 states and from 300-plus cities in a multi-ethnic human chain along streets and near monuments named after the preacher and civil rights leader. The second Pray on MLK event was held January 18, 2021.
Thomas is also the founder and president of Civil Righteousness, Inc. (civilrighteousness.org). His prayer for racial healing is featured in the book, Make Us One: A 31-Day Prayer Journey Toward Racial Healing. He writes in his prayer:
Forgive us for leaning on our own understanding and pursuing justice and reconciliation within our own strength. We are guilty of what the prophet Jeremiah exhorted in that we have said, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace!” Forgive us for accepting temporal victories, drinking from the broken cisterns, and settling for a pagan peace. We cry out to You today, Father, forgive us. We confess our guilt before You today with unveiled faces, because of Your Son Jesus! With You there is mercy.
At public events on Pray on MLK, some people will place white tape—signifying purity of speech—over their mouths with words that identify how they’re praying or what their hopes are for the nation.
“We’re going to call out to God for His mercy,” Thomas says. “We’re going to pray around specific issues related to righteousness, justice, unity, healing, oneness, with certain themes that were critical to the Civil Rights movement.”
Thomas says the model is for any community where there’s been a historic dividing line or what he calls an “altar of pain”—a place where there’s been loss of life due to either a systemic injustice, a race-related encounter or incident, or a location where there’s been a historical, painful divide in a community.
“We’re just encouraging people to do something on that day, something to respond to this invitation to lay hold to the heart of God and to really go low and lift up our nation before the Lord,” Thomas says.