Several million Americans joined in the National Day of Prayer Thursday, in seeking God's wisdom and guidance for the future of the country.
The annual observance invites people of all denominations to pray for the nation, which was founded on biblical principles.
National Day of Prayer events were held on Capitol Hill and at thousands of locations across the country.
President Bush and several governors nationwide issued proclamations on Thursday, asking Americans to seek God's grace and guidance.
The President also hosted a prayer breakfast earlier at the White House, where he expressed his hope that this national observance would have an international impact.
"Over the last seven years, our country has faced many trials," he said. "And time and time again we have turned to prayer and found strength and resilience."
"We prayed for our brave and brilliant troops who died on the field of battle," he said to those gathered in the East Room of the White House. "We lift up their families in prayer. And as we pray for God's continued blessings on our country, I think it makes sense to hope that one day there may be a International Day of Prayer."
National Day of Prayer Task Force, the conservative Christian nonprofit group spear-heading these events, is based in Colorado and is chaired by Shirley Dobson.
Ravi Zacharias, a well-known Christian speaker and author, encouraged serious intercession for the country at the National Day of Prayer Task Force event held in Washington, D.C.
"Scripture tells us in James 5:16, 'The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.' And that's just one of the Bible's countless teachings regarding the believer's duty to intercede for every area of life, including our country and its leaders," Zacharias said in a radio message encouraging Christians to participate in the National Day of Prayer. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also scheduled to speak at the event.
"The threats to our nation are intense at this time, with many dangers looming from without and within. If we are to continue seeing God's blessing in America, we must persevere in prayer," Zacharias added.
Most local events are organized through the Colorado task force.
"This is a critical time to be in prayer for America," Dobson said. "The biblical principles upon which our country was founded are coming under attack in every segment of society. Yet despite this troubling trend, we can take heart in the knowledge that God hears and responds to the earnest cries of His people."
This year's task force theme is "Prayer! America's Strength and Shield." It is taken from Psalms 28:7, which says, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped."
57th Annual National Prayer Day
The observance has been a vital part of the nation's heritage, going all the way back to the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a new nation.
But it became more official in 1952, after President Truman signed a after a joint resolution by Congress, which declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.
Every year, the president signs a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
"America trusts in the abiding power of prayer and asks for the wisdom to discern God's will in times of joy and of trial," President Bush's proclamation states.
"As we observe this National Day of Prayer, we recognize our dependence on the Almighty, we thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, and we put our country's future in His hands," it says.
Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.
Source: CBN News, ndptf.org, Atlanta Journal-Constitution