Americans joined together in prayer Thursday, the 56th annual National Day of Prayer.
Several observances were held across South Mississippi, including gatherings in D'Iberville and Biloxi.
"God, that you would just bless our nation Lord. That you would call us to be set apart, call us to be holy Lord," Michael Hornbeck prayed. The youth director at Big Ridge Baptist Church was among several pastors to speak and pray at D'Iberville's gathering.
"Unite in Prayer" is this year's theme. The faithful at D'Iberville City Hall prayed to overcome obstacles.
"The hand of God has been stretched out here. Despite the Katrinas and all the other maladies and challenges we've had, here we are," said Rev. James Kind of D'Iberville Christian Assembly.
They prayed for police officers.
"Courage to face and conquer my own fear. Courage to take me where others will not go," said Windy Swetman, as he prayed for law enforcement and firefighters.
The group also prayed for schools, with the principal of Hope Academy leading.
"And that each school here Lord would become a center for learning where students experience peace and contentment," prayed principal Donna Rodriguez.
The national observance implores Americans to look beyond self; to acknowledge God as creator and sustainer.
"This nation in which we lived is blessed. This community in which we live is blessed. The Gulf Coast is blessed," said Rev. Alan Norris.
The faithful also gathered on the steps of Biloxi City Hall.
"We ask that you guard and guide our President and all who serve the people of these United States," those gathered recited.
"Give them the direction that is needed in these turbulent times. We pray for this nation that you would make us truly, truly, truly one," offered Rev. Rick August.
The ecumenical gathering at Biloxi City Hall joined in a common purpose.
"Especially in these times as we rebuild. For scripture tells us, unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders labor," said Bishop Thomas Rodi with the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
A Keesler chaplain offered prayers for those in uniform.
"We pray for all of our military members, that you will bless them," said chaplain David Barns, "We're reminded that around the world, men and women are standing on battlefields supporting and defending this great nation that we love."
That great nation is united this day, with bowed heads and folded hands.
"Forgive us for cluttering our churches, to the point that we are so busy "doing" church, we are unable to be your church," prayed the pastor of Beauvoir United Methodist, Rev. Sally Bevill.
The group dismissed by singing God Bless America.
This is the 56th observance of the National Day of Prayer.