Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a powerful prayer asking God to bring peace and healing to the United States amid the pain, anger, and uncertainty seen nationwide following the shooting deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and five police officers who were gunned down in Dallas, Texas.
Over the weekend, Rice, a longtime member of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, Calif., led the congregation in prayer during a special service held to commemorate those recently slain.
"Oh dear, Father, we come to you with heavy hearts," she began. "We come to you with confused minds, we come to you with sinking spirits. But we come to you, too, knowing that we can always count on you. We are so grateful, as a people and as a church, to have a friend in you to whom we can bring all of our concerns, all of our trials and tribulations. And we do that now."
Rice prayed for the victims of violence in Minnesota, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and in cities and countries around the world. She also asked God to protect those in law enforcement and various branches of the military who "defend us on the frontlines of freedom."
Rice, who currently serves as the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, asked God to forgive the United States for its "dark past" of slavery and prejudice.
"We recognize that the wounds and the stain that the pain still lingers today and that it shadows our relationships with one another and sows division," she said. "But dear Heavenly Father, that's not the future that we want for our country. We do not want that division to continue to shadow the future of our children and grandchildren. And so we turn to you - we know that there are no easy answers, but the answer will come through you."
Rice emphasized that as a nation, the United States must "run" into God's loving embrace and ask Him for wisdom during this difficult time.
She continued: "We pray...that each and every one of us will leave this place justified by faith and secure and confident in your deep, deep love for us, and that from that confidence and security of our relationship with you, we will go out into the world as instruments of your peace, as instruments of the reconciliation that you seek for us, as instruments of your love. That each and every day we will search our hearts and ask that we can be a blessing to one another as you have been a blessing to us."
In a Facebook message shared July 8, Pastor John Ortberg revealed that Menlo Park Church decided to postpone the launch of its current series to "come together as a community to worship God and pray for our nation" amid the tragic events of the previous week.
"Events of this past week-especially on top of the recent shootings in Orlando and global acts of terror-can cause our hearts to reel," he wrote. "We want to reflect together on how Jesus is the hope of our world. We want to ask for God's help; for God to bring healing, and offer ourselves and our lives for God's work."
He added: "How we need God. How our nation and our world need God. I know you will join me in praying for God to cause light to shine in the darkness."