'It's time to appeal to Him who can and will make a difference.' So saying Governor Sonny Perdue led a prayer for rain by several hundred people of the drought-stricken Georgia in the US.
Apparently seeking divine intervention is no more a key characteristic of underdeveloped regions in the world.
'We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm,' Perdue said after a choir provided a hymn.
Meteorologists said earlier this week there was a slight possibility of rain Tuesday, but less of a chance of precipitation was predicted for the rest of the week.
The hourlong event was billed as an interfaith ceremony but only three Protestant ministers joined Perdue, who is a Baptist, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Nearby, some 20 demonstrators from the Atlanta Freethought Society staged a protest against the holding of a religious observance at the seat of state government.
More than a quarter of the Southeast of the US is covered by an 'exceptional' drought the National Weather Service's worst drought category. The Atlanta area, with a population of 5 million, is smack in the middle of the affected region, which encompasses most of Tennessee, Alabama and the northern half of Georgia, as well as parts of North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
Georgia was placed under statewide water restrictions in April that limited outdoor watering to three days a week. By May Atlanta allowed watering only on weekends, and in September environmental officials banned virtually all outdoor watering through the northern half of the state.
With water supplies rapidly shrinking during a drought of historic proportions, Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency last month for the northern third of the state of Georgia and asked President Bush to declare it a major disaster area.
Georgia officials warn that Lake Lanier, a 38,000-acre reservoir that supplies more than 3 million residents with water, is less than three months from depletion. Smaller reservoirs are dropping even lower.
Perdue asked the president to exempt Georgia from complying with federal regulations that dictate the amount of water released from Georgia's reservoirs to protect federally protected mussel species downstream.