Revival Born in a Prayer Meeting

from the book: America's Great Revivals
(Reprinted from Christian Life Magazine)

It was exactly 12 noon on September 23, 1857...

Jeremiah Lanphier, a 49 year old merchant who gave up his trade position, was picked to do visitation and lead a prayer meeting. The going was slow, often he returned to his room weary and discouraged. He never failed to draw new strength from his time in prayer. For 3 months, he visited boarding houses, shops, and offices inviting people to a prayer meeting. He had the idea that business people tmight like to get away for a short period of prayer once a week while offices were closed at noon. He passed out handbills and put up a placard when the first meeting was to take place.

At noon, there was no one there. At 12:30, one man came in, then another, and another, until there were 6. After a few minutes of prayer, the meeting was dismissed with the decision that another meeting would be held the following Wednesday.

That small meeting was in no way extraordinary. There was no great outpouring of the Spirit of God. He had no way of knowing that it was the beginning of a great national revival which would sweep an estimated 1 million persons into the Kingdom of God. 20 men came to his second noon hour meeting. The following Wednesday, 40. He then decided to make the meeting a daily event in a larger room. That very week, Wednesday Oct. 14th, the nation was staggered by the worst financial panic in its history. Banks closed, men were out of work, and families went hungry. In a short time the Fulton Street Meeting had taken over the whole building with crowds of more than 3,000. The revival-prayer impulse flashed from coast to coast. On Nov. 5, 1857, a New York newspaper carried the story of a revival in Hamilton Ontario Canada, in which 300-400 people were converted in a few days. Accounts of local revivals began to appear in religious papers in November.

Within 6 months, 10,000 businessmen out of a population of 800,000 were gathering daily in New York City for prayer. In Jan. 1858, there were at least 20 other prayer meetings going full tilt in the city. Many of them were sparked by the YMCA.

On Mar. 17th, Burton's Theatre, on Chambers Street was thrown open for noonday prayer meeting. Half an hour before the first service was to begin, the theatre was packed from the pit to the roof.

By the summer of 1858, news of the prayer meeting had crossed the Atlantic. In August, two Presbyterian ministers from Ireland came to see what it was all about. "We have a strong desire that the same gracious dispensation, which has blessed you here, be bestowed upon all our churches at home." They asked for the prayers of the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting.

 

 

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