FLAMES OF REVIVAL
Layman's Prayer Revival
By Scott Ross
The 700 Club
Walk through the streets of any large city and you
will hear the sounds of busy activity. But imagine the streets of
New York City, Pittsburgh, our nation's capital, as well as major
cities along the eastern seaboard silent everyday at noon as people
join together to pray.
Too good to be true? It happened in the 1850s and it all started
at the Fulton Street Church in New York City.
In 1857, the leadership of the Fulton Street Church in New York
City saw a sharp decline in church attendance. They tapped Jeremiah
Lanpher to lead the effort to reach the unchurched of the city.
Lanpher was a former merchant with no formal theological training.
He wasn't sure how to proceed, so he organized a noonday prayer
meeting. He printed up notices and handed them to anyone who would
take one. On the day of the meeting, Lanpher waited.
Jeremiah Lanpher announced he was a city missionary and there
was going to be a prayer meeting. No one showed up and he began
praying. Twenty minutes later he heard someone coming up the stairs
and that first time maybe two or three joined him. The next time
someone joined him and then the room was filled. And so he went
from one room to two rooms to three rooms and he went to the church
In the following months, noonday prayer meetings sprung up all
across the city. In fact, many factories blew the lunch whistle
at 11:55 a.m., giving workers the chance to rush to the nearest
church to pray for an hour. Churches of all denominations were
filled with people praying on their lunch break. This caught the
attention of the media.
The Layman's Prayer Revival had the motivation that we must pray
one hour. Jesus said, 'Could you not tarry with me one hour?'
And they wanted to go pray during their lunch hour so there was
fasting and great prayer. The editor of the Herald Tribune was
looking out of his window at a few minutes before twelve and he
was shocked to see men running from their places of business,
bumping into one another and within a minute they all disappeared
into churches. And he said what's going on? So he sent a reporter
down to see what it was and he said, 'they are all praying.'
The next day he got all of his reporters together, put them on
horses to cover the whole city. They came and said there must
be fifteen thousand people. So he began to write stories, and
then before you know it, there were twenty-five thousand. The
more stories he wrote the bigger the meeting got. And he put them
on horse to cover the whole city and they came back and they said
there must be about forty thousand men praying through the lunch
hour. What's happening here? Because New York was center of the
world at that time, all over America, in Cleveland, Chicago, Denver,
Los Angeles, people would read the New York papers and then revival
began to break out.
Prayer meetings organized by lay leadership spread like wildfire
across the United States. By 1859, more than one million unchurched
Americans were won to Christ. God was pouring out His spirit,
preparing America for one of its darkest chapters in history.
The layman's prayer revival took place two years before the Civil
War. And think of all of the thousands men who were slain and
cut down in battle. The only positive thing we can say is that
many of them knew the Savior before they went into that battle.
Imagine if we all took an hour out of our busy lives to pray
-- what could happen?
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