Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prayer in Schools

Writer and thinker W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), pictured here late in life in Accra, Ghana, wrote prayers for his students while teaching at Altanta University during the early years of the twentieth century. His spiritual meditations, I hope, will offer inspiration for the coming academic year.

The prayers below comes from a slender volume titled Prayers for Dark People, a collection of Du Bois's spiritual petitions published in 1980 and edited by scholar Herbert Aptheker.

"Let us remember, O God, that our religion in life is expressed in our work, and therefore in this school [Atlanta University] it is shown in the way we conquer our studies—not entirely in our marks but in the honesty of our endeavour, the thoroughness of our accomplishment and the singleness and purity of our purpose. In school life there is but one unforgivable sin and that is to know how to study and to be able to study, and then to waste and throw away God’s time and opportunity. From this blasphemy deliver us all, O God. Amen” (p. 33).

"God bless all schools and forward the great work of education for which we stand. Arouse within us and within our land a deep realization of the seriousness of our problem of training children. On them rests the future work and throught and sentiment and goodness of the world. If here and elsewhere we train the lazy and shallow, the self-indulgent and the frivolous--if we destroy reason and religion and do not rebuild, help us, O God, to realize how heavy is our responsibility and how great the cost. The school of today is the world of tomorrow and today and tomorrow are Thine, O God. Amen (I Samuel 16:6-12)" (p. 53).

Best wishes for a productive and successful semester and year!

[Photo from UMass-Amherst Digital Archive.]

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