Real revival can happen in the midst of God’s people. Remember Jeremiah Lanphier and the prayer revival? There was nothing special about Lanphier.
“One of the six at the first Fulton Street meeting was a twenty-one-year-old Philadelphian. ‘Why not a prayer meeting in Philadelphia?’ he thought. He and some of his fellow members of the YMCA asked for permission to hold a meeting in the Methodist Episcopal Union Church. The start was dismal. Only about forty came. The meeting was moved to another building more centrally located. Still the crowd stayed around sixty. But suddenly there was a change. On March 8, 1858, 300 people were present. On Wednesday, March 10, 2,500 people jammed into a larger auditorium. Seats were set up on the stage. After that, not less than 3,000 people attended the meeting every day.
“Early in 1858 the revival power poured over the Appalachian Mountains and into the West. Every major town fell before it—Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha —and on to the Pacific Coast. In Chicago, where 2,000 showed up for prayer in the Metropolitan Theater, a newspaper commented: So far as the effects of the present religious movement are concerned, they are apparent to all. They are to be seen in every walk of life, to be felt in every phase of society. All have been more or less influenced by this excitement. And everywhere, it was a revival of prayer. There was no hysteria, no unusual disturbances. Just prayer.
“The revival rolled on into 1859 and 1860. There is no telling how long it might have lasted if the Civil War had not broken out. Some writers say that it carried right through the war.
“When the revival was at high tide through the nation, it was judged that 50,000 persons a week were converted. And the number who joined the churches in 1858 amounted to almost 10 percent of the country’s total church membership! In comparison, with a population in America of over 330 million, that would mean 33 million people being converted and joining churches in the next two years. And, since only about 66 million Americans attend church each week, seeing 10% converted would mean a 50% growth in our churches over the next two years.
“Lanphier’s dedication to the work came only after a struggle and total surrender to God. He testified: ‘The subject was laid upon my heart and was a matter of constant consideration for some time. At last I resolved to give myself to the work, and I shall never forget with what force, at the time, those words came home to my soul: ’Tis done, the great transaction’s done, I am my Lord’s, and He is mine; He drew me, and I followed on, Charmed to confess the voice divine.’”