For the fourth consecutive year, Conservative Christian Teens for America will observe National Day of Prayer on Thursday on the steps of the Hernando County Courthouse in downtown Brooksville.
The event will begin with music at 11:30 a.m.; the ceremony will begin at noon.
Two local churches — Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene and First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill — will also offer opportunities for people to pray for the country and its leaders on that day, which was officially established by Congress in 1952 as an annual event.
Annie Baker, who provides adult leadership for the teen group, said she is excited that U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, will participate in Thursday's ceremony.
"I know that the congressman, and his wife, Wendy, do not leave their faith at home; they bring it with them to Washington, D.C.," Baker said. "So for the congressman to agree to declare May 3 as National Day of Prayer for District 5 speaks volumes. It means he is willing to live his Christian faith out loud."
In an interview this week, Nugent said he has participated in National Day of Prayer events for several years, including during the time he was Hernando County sheriff.
"I believe in the strength of prayer, asking for God to open our eyes, give us guidance and help us make proper decisions," he said. "I believe that in my family life and also in my political life."
Prayer is important, he said, noting that Republican members of the House of Representatives open with prayer when they get together in an informal capacity a couple of times a week to talk over issues.
"We pray not only for the president and his family and the vice president and his family but also for all elected leaders," Nugent said. "So it's important to us to ask for that guidance and give thanks for all the blessings we've received as a family and as a nation."
County Commissioner Jim Adkins will make the official National Day of Prayer proclamation for the county.
The Rev. Marlin Mull of Brooksville Wesleyan Church will give the invocation, and Stephanie Sager, musical director at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, will sing the national anthem. Sager's 6-year-old son, Bob, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Several local pastors will lead prayers for families, churches and pastors, educators and homeschoolers, local businesses and the economy, law enforcement, public safety and emergency officials, and the state of the nation. Debrah Howard, representing the Blue Star Mothers, will pray for the military.
Conservative Christian Teens founder Jordan Baker will emcee the event and speak on the topic of "One Nation Under God."
"As a young person, those four words mean a great deal to me and my future," he said. "As we learn the true history of our great nation, we cannot but undeniably realize that America was founded and built upon nothing less than the principles of the Word of God."
The ceremony will close with a musical presentation by the Cornerstone Baptist Youth Strings Ensemble.
Aleta Harris said Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene, where her husband is pastor, has had a prayer service open to the community on the night before National Day of Prayer for the last couple of years.
"It seems to work better," she said. "It's on a Wednesday night, so it's a regular church time for a lot of people."
There will be a short message by the pastor on the importance of praying for the nation, with different people assigned to cover local, state, national and international interests.
Pat Hepler heads the prayer ministry at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, which has hosted an open house during National Day of Prayer for the past five years.
"We offer this because of the importance of prayer," she said. "We think it's so important that Christians all over the country pray for our nation, especially in these times with all the problems we have going on."
When people enter the sanctuary, they will be greeted by people who will give out prayer guides.
"People can pray for as long as they like," she said, "and when they leave, they will get an 'I prayed' sticker to put on."