This is a prayer-call for moral awakening, by praying the prayer using the lyrics in the poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson.

Many Blacks felt alienated and neglected by the system so they reached for something to call their very own by adopting the lyrics as the Negro National Anthem for an oppressed people. The writer did not intend for that to be the case. He just wrote what his heart felt at the time. The words in the song gave hope to a people who saw no hope in the action of the ones in control, the ones in power to do something about their impoverished condition.

This year, Juneteenth and Father’s Day are celebrated on the same day in churches, homes and the general community. Our Father, today is AN EXTRA SPECIAL DAY, and we ask that you incline your ears to us as we begin this day, and all day as we celebrate with our family and our history.

Let us bow our heads and pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, today we bow our heads in humble submission to you, to simply thank you and to ask for your continuous covering over our children — who are our future, our hope, and our challenge.

Today we will “Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring.” Thank you for letting it ring with the harmonies of liberty; thank you for letting our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies; thank you for letting it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Dear God, thank you for opening the hearts and minds of understanding in our children — that they might not see this as just another Father’s Day where we begin one way and end the same.

Thank you, Father, for letting them know they were singing songs full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Today they were singing songs “full of the hope that the present has brought us.” Today, Father, we thank you for opening the minds and understanding of all as we leave, “facing the rising sun of our new day begun,” and let it remind the adults as well that we must march on till victory is won.

Let our children know, as they go and grow, that we were simply following the instructions given in the book of Deuteronomy. Let us be prepared to answer them when they ask what meanest these stones? We shall tell them “Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died.”

Father, let us be prepared to tell them that “yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet come to the place for which our fathers sighed?” Let us be able to tell them “We have come over a way that with tears has been watered; We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered; Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”

Let our children know that we have a God. A God of our weary years, a God of our silent tears. This great God “who hast brought us thus far on the way” is the same God who has, by his might, “led us into the light.” This same God will keep them forever in the path, we pray.

“Lest their feet stray from the places, our God, where they met Thee.”

Lest their hearts get drunk with the wine of the world and cause them to forget thee. We are all standing together shadowed beneath God’s hand. “May we forever stand, true to our God.”

So, Father, you stand at the door and knock. We take you at your word. You said, “If you open the door and let me in, I will come in and sup with you.” Dear Father, how wonderful for us to sup with you — because when you come in, love enters the room; peace enters the room; forgiveness enters the room; tolerance enters the room; loving each other enters the room; and understanding enters the room.

Let our children know to open the door.

So Dear Father, later as we close the door on this day, please take the outreached hands of these, our children and our grandchildren, and lead them over, around, under or through whatever obstacles or hindrances they may be facing, if it is thy will. We offer them up to you today.

Today, we surrender our families to you that you might use our families as instruments of your peace. Use our families as instruments of love; use our families as instruments of kindness; use our families as instruments of tolerance; use our families as instruments of mercy. Be with us all as we move in our destiny and to greater.

We ask your blessings on our hope, our challenge and our future.

May grace and peace be with us forever — and ever. To the most-high God who is able to keep us and our children from falling, we now incline the ears of our heart, mind, soul and spirit to hear you. Father, we are now listening! AMEN and AMEN.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright, founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award recipient. She can be contacted at

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