Wendy Curtis, 46, fought tears of joy as she thought of the beauty behind everyone celebrating faith and connecting through prayer.
"People of all faiths are coming together," said Curtis, one of an estimated 500 people gathered at The Marketplace on Thursday celebrating the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer. "It makes God smile when we do this."
The event was organized by several denominations in Kern County. More than 40 churches of about 15 different denominations attended.
The National Day of Prayer will be followed by 40 days of prayer, ending June 8 with the Global Day of Prayer. Each day the prayer session will be held at a different Kern County church.
The theme of Thurday's event was "One Voice, United in Prayer."
Participants will use the next 40 days to pray for the arts, entertainment and media, businesses, churches, denominationalism, education, family and government.
“We are crying out to God to bless our nation," said Rev. Calvin Guillory Jr., of The Oaks Community Church.
A proclamation from President Barack Obama was read, that invited "the citizens of our nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in asking for God's continued guidance, mercy and protection as we seek a more just world."
Bob Prater, 57, of Bakersfield, said the large gathering gave him a sense of community.
"It's easy to have a divide (between churches)," he said. "This is a day where we can unite."
With heads bowed and eyes closed, believers swayed and locked hands as Danielle Wright, 38, the National Day of Prayer city organizer for Bakersfield, spoke about how every day should be a day of prayer.
"Today is a day for people to cry out to God for help," she said.
Patricia Newquist, 55, a member of the Renaissance Church in Bakersfield, said the event was a way to achieve focused prayer in the community.
"It really is a miracle to have this many faiths and religions together," said Newquist. "Praying for our nation is the foundation of this country."
An earlier prayer celebration was held at noon next to the Liberty Bell.
Michael Salinas, 35, of Wasco, attended the prayer event with members of the Kern Teen Challenge, an organization offering faith-based rehabilitation for people with drug and alcohol addictions.
"I just want people to know God is real and come together for prayer," Salinas said.