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By Adelle M. Banks

Religion News Service

(RNS) — The late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has long been hailed as a civil rights leader, but religious studies professor Lewis Baldwin said one aspect of his life has often been overlooked: the role of prayer.

“In order to understand him, you must begin, I think, with this idea of King as a spiritual leader,” said Baldwin, author of the recent book, Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. King always made it clear that his civil rights and political activities were an extension of his ministry.”

As the nation marks the 25th anniversary of Monday’s (Jan. 17) federal holiday honoring King, the scholar who has spent a quarter century chronicling King’s cultural influences has focused on King’s prayer life.

For King, personal prayer and public prayer were equally significant, the scholar said.

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