Need Some of That Old-Time Religion?

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If so, then hustle down to 4005 Gaston Avenue, where local preachers have been doing a little Bible-thumping in a huge revival-style tent erected for tomorrow's National Day of Prayer. The tent, which will be there till May 18, is smack-dab in the middle of Dallas Theological Seminary, Criswell College and a Starbucks. Hey, that must create a kind of conservative-Christian-and-caffeine vortex.

Each night since April 9, different area ministers have taken the pulpit to expound their thoughts on prayer. Pastors from Reunion Church, Park Cities Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church Dallas, Union Gospel Mission, Sojourn Church, Trinity Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas Bible Church, Probe Ministries and others have been taking turns leading services each night. And tomorrow night, Jerry Johnson, who's the head of Criswell College, singer-songwriter W.T. Greer and prayer leader Bob Bakke will lead a giant service to mark the National Day of Prayer, when people around the world are exhorted to pray for local, national and world leaders. Don’t forget world peace.

The schedule for the rest of the revival's available here, along with podcasts of earlier sermons. Influential Christian author Chuck Swindoll, pastor at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco and chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, is this year’s honorary chairman for the national event. (I wonder if Swindoll, a Harley-Davidson enthusiast, came up with the idea to have a prayer day at NASCAR in Talledega on April 29.)

All creeds are welcome. Just hit your knees. A press release from Lovell-Fairchild helpfully suggests some prayer targets specifically for Dallas:

VIOLENT CRIME: Dallas’ violent crime rate is 2.67 times the national average, with a murder rate topping three times the national average.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The Dallas unemployment rate is 4.6 percent -- .01 percent higher than the national average.

HOMELESSNESS: Dallas has about twice as many homeless people as the rest of the country, with an estimated 6,000 homeless citizens, or .48 percent of our population, compared to 744,000 homeless nationwide, or .25 percent for the U.S.

POVERTY: Dallas County’s poverty rate is estimated to be between 13.6 and 20.4%, compared to 12.7% in the United States.

Gee, when you put it like that, maybe Dallas needs a National Prayer Month.

This is the 56th year for the NDP. But the tradition goes back before the founding of the United States, instituted by the Continental Congress in 1775. Congress made it official in 1952. (Since our legislators have now proclaimed days for everything from secretaries to baseball, I suspect religious fervor had little to do with it.) The NPD has been observed on the first Thursday in May since 1988. --Glenna Whitley

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