July 18, 2016 9:23 PM [ET] | Originally published: July 18, 2016 7:52 PM EDT; Correction appended
Donald Trump has invited pastor Paula White, a televangelist who leads the 10,000-member New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, to deliver the benediction at Monday’s opening night festivities.
“I genuinely am humbled and honored,” White says. “It’s always been my passion and heart to break barriers for future generations.”
White is a longtime friend of Trump. She also has been active behind the scenes to gather groups of evangelicals and pentecostal pastors to meet him privately since 2011, when he was considering a run for the White House.
White gathered a group of preachers to meet with Trump at Trump Tower, including prominent pentecostal televangelists Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Trinity Broadcasting Network founder Jan Crouch, “Preachers of LA” reality star Clarence McClendon, and newcomers to the national scene like South Carolina pastor Mark Burns.
Lyndsay Keith, spokeswoman for the convention, told TIME that White was the first woman to pray at a Republican nominating convention. But Ruth Osborne, a commissioner of the Salvation Army,
delivered an invocation in 1992.
White shared a copy of her prayer with TIME:
We need you.
We stand tonight in challenging times.
I’m reminded of your words in Isaiah 59:14:
“Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found.”
“Truth stumbles in the streets and honesty has been outlawed.”
“Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.”
We too, have often turned our back on truth!
At the beginning of this convention
At this critical moment in America’s history
We choose a different path.
We pray that you would forgive us for our unrighteousness,
That you would inspire us to do what’s right
That you would empower us to be brave.
That you would give us faith to believe that things can and will change.
Help us to fight with all our might for the future of our country,
For the freedom of our children and grandchildren.
For the peace brought by our rule of law.
For your definition of justice.
Help us to pray not only in these symbolic moments, but in every moment.
Help us to pray like we mean it and to pray like it matters.
Protect from all of those who aim to destroy us.
Give us eyes to see a brighter future for America.
We believe in faith that
It’s time for darkness to be dispelled.
It’s time for this nation to live out its holy calling in the earth [world].
It is time for us to bridge the divide and become one.
We believe in faith that
It’s time for us to become the light that this world desperately needs.
It is time for this nation to uphold truth, proudly and boldly.
We choose by faith
To walk in love
To stand for the way of our God.
To seek peace for the generations to come.
We choose by faith
To raise up a standard against the forces of evil.
To have a heart for your presence
To have a thirst for your righteousness.
We confess that we need you as never before.
We need your guidance. We need your blessing. We need your help.
We remember the many troubled waters that you have brought us through by Your grace and mercy
We remember Red Seas that have been parted, and the mouths of lions that have been pacified.
We remember the miracles of those times… and in our time
We remember the miracle of America.
In it all we find our hope that we can be great and we can be good as we stand in Your righteousness
Lord – as we leave – lead us
so that future generations in this land may know of your goodness.
May you bless us, and keep us.
Make your face shine upon us, and be gracious to us.
May you show us your favor and give us your peace.
In the name of Jesus who gives us hope through his empty tomb,
and whose life has brought us new life and all the hope in the world.
Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen. Correction: The initial version of this story did not note Ruth Osborne, commissioner of the Salvation Army, who led an invocation for the RNC in 1992. More Must-Reads From TIME Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets Meet the 2024 Women of the Year East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does Column: The New Antisemitism The 13 Best New Books to Read in March Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time