Monday, June 6, 2011
Something big was happening. Ann, my niece, started to scatter sunflower seeds on her deck for the resident chipmunk. Every day the chippie came. The news spread. A chickadee joined the chippie, then a nuthatch, then a white-throated sparrow. Two more appeared. Then three. Then … Now they all watch and wait for their daily rations. The crowd has grown and is eager—just like the pray-ers were during the great Prayer Meeting Revival. Great things come to those who faithfully wait.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The Great Prayer Meeting Revival
It started on Sept. 23, 1857, during a desperate time in America. On the edge of financial collapse, banks and businesses failed, and unemployment figures reached many thousands. People in desperate straits didn’t know where to turn for help. The spiritual climate showed the Christian religion in decline as well. That’s when Jeremiah C. Lanphier posted a sign outside a New York church advertising a prayer meeting during the noon hour.
Like many prayer meetings, only a handful of people attended at first. But as they began to meet weekly, the numbers grew. Soon the people met daily to pray. When their numbers outgrew the church capacity, other churches and even a large theater opened their doors for prayer.
Some 150 interdenominational prayer meetings took place in Brooklyn and Manhattan alone. Within six months, over 10,000 men met to pray daily in New York. The prayer revival soon leaped to Philadelphia, Chicago, Louisville, Cleveland, St. Louis, and many other cities to the west and then overseas. In fact, the meetings continued until 1860, just before the American civil war began.
There was little or no preaching during those daily meetings—only unified prayer. The results of such persevering prayer astounded the world. By 1859 the hearts of over two million people had turned to God through personal repentance. In parts of Europe, the revival continued during the American Civil War. In America it brought us such spiritual giants as William and Catherine Booth, who founded the Salvation Army, and Dwight L. Moody.
The great Prayer Meeting Revival is a testament to perseverance. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing … for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Anything worthwhile requires perseverance. When we see the broken hearts of people around us—the sick, the depressed, the helpless—we should be compelled to pray without ceasing for them. God wants all of us to be reconciled with Him.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Fervent prayer accomplishes great results, as shown by the great Prayer Meeting Revival.
Lord, thank You for hearing our prayers. Kindle a fire within us that will become another Prayer Meeting Revival. In Jesus’ name, amen.