Praying Hands Statue
Image of the Praying Hands Statue from Tulsa People.
Image of the reconstruction of the Praying Hands Statue during its relocation. Image from Tulsa People.
Image of the construction of the Praying Hands Statue. "Praying Hands" under construction. Photo by Bob Grier. Courtesy "The Oklahoman."
Backstory and Context
Located on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Praying Hands statue is a well known cultural landmark for many people. Oral Roberts University in a Christian University founded by Evangelist Oral Roberts in 1963. Oral Roberts was a well-known Christian Evangelist that spent his life sharing about the power of God, specifically his healing power.
The statue is commonly referred to as the praying hands statue because it depicts the hands of a person praying. Oral Roberts was a supporter of healing given through the power of God. The statue is purposefully in a praying stance to symbolize the prayer that is involved in the faith based healing. Inscribed on the statue is a Bible passage Luke 2:52 which says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and statue, and in favor with God and men.” The statue is said to be the largest bronze sculpture in the world. The statue reaches sixty feet high and weighs thirty tons. The Praying Hands sculpture was cast in Juarez, Mexico in 1980 before being transported to Oklahoma.
Originally, the statue was located in front of a medical center on Oral Roberts University called “City of Faith”, but was moved in 1991 and now resides in the entrance drive of Oral Roberts University. The address is 7777 South Lewis, Tulsa Ok 74136. The statue was originally referred to as “The Healing Hands” which matches its original location. City of Faith was a medical center devoted to faith healing, which prayer was a huge part of. Oral Roberts decided to build the City of Faith Medical and Research Center due to an encounter with God. Roberts was healed of Tuberculosis when he was young and believed God healed him so he could then share the healing power of God with his generation.
The sculpture was created by Leonard McMurry, one of Oklahoma’s most well-known sculptors of the twentieth century. Leonard McMurry studied at West Texas State College, Texas A&M University, Washington University, and Syracuse University. McMurry was well known for his bronze sculptures, most of which were figurative. Other notable works of McMurray in Oklahoma include: The 86er at the Oklahoma City Civic Center, The Legend of the Great Westerner (informally called "Buffalo Bill") at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and a series of twenty-one busts of former Oklahoma governors.
This sculpture is significant because of the story it tells about Oral Roberts and Christian evangelism in Oklahoma during the time of the founding of Oral Roberts University and the creation of the praying hands statue. The statue is still a well-known landmark in the Tulsa area and attacks many visitors to the staggering statue.
Everett, Dianna. McMURRY, LEONARD D. (1913–2008).. Oklahoma Historical Society. . Accessed March 08, 2019. https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=MC038..
Moving Hands. Tulsa World. July 28, 1991. Accessed March 08, 2019. https://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/moving-hands/article_9d9c68cc-dac9-5561-a6be-d1ee1a6de4a8.html.
Rains, Julie. Built on Faith, Grounded for the Future. Tulsa People. . Accessed March 08, 2019. http://www.tulsapeople.com/Tulsa-People/October-2015/Built-on-faith-grounded-for-the-future/..
Rawlings, Nate. Top 10 Incredibly Large Statues. Time. June 16, 2010. Accessed March 08, 2019. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1996852_1996854_1996819,00.html.
Oral Roberts University's Praying Hands Sculpture in Tulsa. Tulsa World. May 21, 2015. Accessed March 08, 2019. https://www.tulsaworld.com/oral-roberts-university-s-praying-hands-sculpture-in-tulsa/image_b04aa078-ffe7-11e4-8c2a-cb5fb59f3c73.html.