6 Ways to Make MLK Day Purposeful

Hykeng Paul, Volunteers

We set aside the third Monday of January to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a pastor and civil rights leader who dedicated his life to the pursuit of racial equality. 

Before beginning his work with the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor for many years. He had his shortcomings — just like the rest of us. It’d be easy to highlight his shortcomings and ignore the work he did to bring the kingdom of God to earth. But as believers, we know firsthand the goodness and grace of God. He works constantly through imperfect people to bring about His perfect will.


Martin Luther King Jr. made a lasting impact on America. He was a societal visionary — moving on the convictions he had from the Bible. King Jr. stated, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.” 

King Jr. used his voice to point our country to a better way of seeing people and valuing their lives. He did this during a time where the idea of unity across racial lines was not a common practice across our nation. Inspired by the character of God’s love for His children, King Jr. had a desire to see all people, especially Black people, living in and enjoying the opportunities and freedom upon which our country was founded. He fought for unity but he did in a peaceful way — refusing to be pushed into a response of violence. 


The events which Martin Luther King Jr. spearheaded led to legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. These acts meant that segregation would no longer be legalized in America. Separate housing, education, water fountains, and restaurants became obvious discrimination. Many laws that had oppressed Black people in America were finally changed. This took a great act of faith and radical endurance to stand up for righteousness in a nation overwhelmed by a racial divide.

King Jr. was just one man, but he was a man moved by his convictions from the Lord and his faith in Christ’s love moved him to fight for racial equality with his life. 


Here are six practical ways to make MLK Day purposeful:

1. Grab time with good friends and pray for increased unity among all people in our nation. Ask God to show you where He still wants to heal our nation.

2. Learn the perspective of a different ethnicity. This can be through a podcast, a book, or through a meal with a friend, coworker or neighbor. Use the day off to pursue uncommon unity in your community. If you have dinner with a friend, let them know you’re here to listen and to learn. Even just meeting with them can reveal to you their personal experience.. 

3. Today is a day of service and education. Look for opportunities in your city for people who are in need of aid or assistance and provide them help. 

4. Host a movie night in your house! There are many lists of available movies and documentaries (e.g., “MLK/FBI” on Hulu,“Selma” on Netflix, etc.) that you can watch with your family and neighbors.

5. Start a book club with friends on how to fight for ethnic unity in the church and in the world. 

6. Include your kids in the conversation by talking to them about Rev. King’s life as a believer. KidSpring has wonderful resources to remind your child that King Jr. believed God’s Word, stood up for what was right, and was full of hope! Go to KidSpring’s Instagram to find more that you can share with your kids about unity.

Our heart as a church is to be a people that pursue uncommon unity through the example of Jesus. We know when we are all pursuing true unity in our nation and our church, we set the stage for everyone everywhere to have an everyday relationship with Jesus. Through His unrelenting grace and endurance, we can align our minds and hearts around the convictions of our Savior. This holiday can be an opportunity for us to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in our life and His love for all of mankind.

Want to pray intentionally today?

Heavenly Father,

You love Your children with such wild grace and patience. Thank You for a love like we’ve never known. We repent when we dismiss or forget it. We pray Your presence would be all around us. 

We pray that today we will see Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We want to see this in our homes, schools, workplaces, and especially in Your Church. We can’t wait to see a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, tribe, and language, standing before Your throne praising Your name one day! Start with us. Let us be a Church that embodies Your desire for unity.

Father, meet us in our failings. Give us humility when we seek our own understanding. You promise us that if we ask for wisdom that you will give it to us … so, we’re asking! Where we have confusion or doubt, give us clarity and move our hearts toward compassion. We simply want to love people the way You love us. Help us. We want to see real unity in Your Church and we know that the way we love others, especially those who are different from us, will be the difference maker. 

In Jesus’ name, 


Watch a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech ’I’ve been to the mountaintop’

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