The National Day of Prayer has been a part of Pastor Rodney Lord's early May agenda for years.
"When I first moved to the area in 1997, others were overseeing the Day of Prayer and now I am helping coordinate it," said Lord, pastor of Valley Harvest Church in Marietta. "We've always done it from the (Washington County) courthouse steps, and it includes all believers."
The mission of the event is to communicate with every individual in America the need for prayer and repentance, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede on behalf of America and its leaders in the areas of government, the military, media, business, education, church and family, according to information from the National Day of Prayer Task Force (www.ndptf.org).
Lord said many people gather during the lunch-hour program, scheduled this year from noon to 12:45 p.m. Thursday, May 7. Some just watch and listen, but many participate, he said.
Everyone, regardless of religious or church affiliation, is welcome.
There will be a national proclamation read from President Barack Obama and a local proclamation from Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen, Lord said.
If you go
What: 58th annual National Day of Prayer.
When: 12 to 12:45 p.m. Thursday, May 7.
Where: Washington County Courthouse steps.
Who: Open to the community.
For more information: http://www.ndptf.org or (740) 706-2945.
"It originated with a speech from President Abraham Lincoln, who declared the need for a national day of prayer," he said. "Originally, President Lincoln called for the day at the end of the month of the speech, which was April 30, but it was later changed to the first Thursday of May."
This year's theme is "Prayer: America's Hope."
"A lot of people gather in many different age groups," he said. "Because students are in school, we don't have as many young people as we would like to have there."
For Lord, the event is always memorable.
"Believers from all different religions and walks of life, worshiping and praying together, leaves a powerful impression in your mind," he said.
Pastor Philip Steven Thibault, with the Evergreen Bible Church of Reno, said this year, more than any other time in recent memory, is expected to draw those who seek comfort through prayer. These are "uncertain" times, he said.
"There is economic crisis, an ongoing war to protect our borders from terrorists, a great division in our country on moral and family issues; the need for prayer emerges," said Thibault, a member of the local planning committee.
Prayer has dominated the fabric of American families from the nation's conception to now, he said.
"One may feel helpless, but through the power of prayer we can stand in the gap and bring real hope to our beloved country," Thibault said.
In 2008, for the first time, a new aspect was added to the event of prayer, a Silent Siege, which is in essence a prayer stance for those yet unborn.
"The group was praying on behalf of the unborn," Lord said. "This has been a growing trend throughout the nation."