“Jeremiah Lanphier had hoped for more. But six people were six people. And did not scripture say, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of you’? So, on this day, September 23, 1857, at lunchtime, he did not moan about the small number who turned out in response to his advertisement.
“The United States was in spiritual, political, and economic decline. Agitation over slavery was breeding political unrest, and civil war seemed near. Just this year, financial panic had hit. Banks failed, railroads went bankrupt, factories closed, unemployment increased.
“In lower Manhattan, a Dutch Reformed church had been steadily losing members, largely because of population changes owing to immigration; they hired the layman Jeremy to reverse the trend with an active visitation program. Despite his visits, church members were listless. So, he rented the hall on Fulton street and advertised prayer meetings. He himself enjoyed close fellowship with the Lord and thought others might, too. Conditions in the United States got worse; maybe that was a good thing. Sometimes trouble makes people turn to God. The third week of Jeremiah’s program, his prayer meeting had forty participants and they asked for daily meetings.
On October 10, the stock market crashed. Suddenly people were flocking to the prayer meetings. Within six months 10,000 people were gathering daily for prayer in New York City alone.
“Other cities experienced a renewed interest in prayer, too. In Chicago, the Metropolitan Theater was filled every day with 2,000 praying people. In Louisville, several thousand came to the Masonic Temple for prayer each morning. There were 2,000 assembled for daily prayer in Cleveland, and St. Louis churches were filled for months at a time. In many places tents were set up for prayer. The newly formed YMCA also played an important role in holding prayer meetings and spreading the revival throughout the country.
“In February, 1858, Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald gave extensive coverage to the prayer revival. Not to be outdone, the New York Tribune devoted an entire issue in April, 1858 to news of the revival. News of the revival traveled west by telegraph. This was the first revival which the media played an important role in spreading.
“This revival that began in a prayer meeting in New York City became a great movement of God. What was the result of this prayer meeting revival? More about that later.” (Jeremy Lanphier Led Prayer Revival, Dan Graves, Christianity.com, June 2007)
But, for now, I have a question. Can revival like this happen again today? Can revival like this happen today in your church, community, and city? Real revival can happen in the midst of God’s people. Be sure to follow this blog the rest of this week for insight into some circumstances that will be present in this kind of revival.