Created in 1952 by President Truman, the observance always takes place on the first Thursday in May.
"It is a powerful feeling, as a Christian, to know that there are people all over our region praying at the same time," said the Rev. Dave Channell, minister of pastoral care at Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Oakwood.
Channell organized a decidedly casual service Thursday morning at Blackshear Place.
About 100 people dropped by and stood around in the parking lot, munching on Krispy Kreme doughnuts, before the prayers commenced.
"It was beautiful," Channell said. "We started at 7 a.m., just as the sun was breaking through the trees."
He noted that Christians don’t need a special day in order to pray.
"We are called to pray without ceasing, of course," he said. "But there are things that need to be brought to the forefront, such as the war and the presidential campaign."
Westside Baptist Church, located in an industrial section of Atlanta Highway, also held a drop-in service, but scheduled it at noon to accommodate workers’ schedules.
"We invited workers in our neighborhood to come in on their lunch hour," said the Rev. Michael Taylor, interim pastor at Westside.
Though he didn’t get a huge turnout, Taylor said he felt it was important to offer the service.
"Things are so crazy," he said. "Gas prices are out of sight, the economy is bad, there’s troops overseas, we’ve had a soldier from East Hall critically injured. This was an opportunity for everyone to pray in unison, people of all backgrounds."
A much more formal event took place from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Gainesville Civic Center, beginning with a full breakfast.
"It was well-attended, as it usually is," said Henry Slack, owner of Slack Auto Parts. "We’ve been doing it for a number of years."
The civic center event is not affiliated with a particular church, but is organized by the Fishermen, a group of local Christian men that includes Slack.
This year’s program featured music, brief remarks from several people and keynote speaker Matt Eddy, who is president of Habersham Furniture Company.
"He is known for his work in ministry and outreach," Slack said.
Taylor said it didn’t matter where people chose to pray Thursday, as long as they participated.
"There is so much work to be done, and we need God’s help," he said. "We feel that by people praying together, there will be a healing."