Chattanooga's Christian faithful gathered outside the Hamilton County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon as part of the National Day of Prayer.
Leaders called on God to help across the county and the country in churches, political offices and schools. They called for loyalty to God above loyalty to a political party or an ideology.
The Rev. Gregory Odom, pastor of New Monumental Baptist Church, told the roughly 150 people gathered they should recognize the freedoms they have in America to worship as they please, a right that is not available in every country.
Odom led a portion of prayer directly for elected officials.
"We pray right now, Father, that our elected officials lean not to their own understanding, but lean wholly on you, letting you come in and permeate and fill them because, Father, whether they know it or not, we know that you have called them for a specific reason and a specific purpose," Odom told the crowd.
Chattanooga House of Prayer organized the event at the Courthouse, galvanizing the dozens of local partner churches to turn out. Participants broke off into small groups of five or six people to pray as part of the service.
Micki Ann Harris, spiritual formation director for the organization, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the new style allowed participants to take a more active role in the Day of Prayer, as well as offer up what was on their hearts, as opposed to listening to a series of speakers.
The groups prayed for things like local families, schools, businesses, the media and the military.
Natalia Briggs, a community member, led a prayer for the full group for local families to turn to God together, praying and worshiping as one.
Briggs also appealed to God to help members of the media.
"God, we know that you're bigger than Hollywood, you're bigger than ESPN, MTV, mainstream news," she told the crowd. "God, you're bigger than it all. You're bigger than us. You're bigger than everything. And we ask that you use the media to accomplish your purposes."
Among those gathered, many uttered prayers of thanksgiving and hope the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision providing a constitutional right to abortion access. A document leaked from the court this week suggested the court is on the brink of overturning the decision, sending the question of regulating abortion access back to individual states.
Adam Whitescarver, executive director of the Chattanooga House of Prayer, led a prayer for the crowd to end abortion in the United States and to help Christians find the grace to help those who feel they need those services.
"We unite our voices together and say, 'Please stop abortion,'" Whitescarver said. "We pray for life to abound. All over this country, we pray for there to be freedom to live."