Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Fulton Street Revival

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that prayer is a foundation for revival. Thus, it is good to throw a few logs into a prayer fire by looking to past examples. Below is from Glimpses bulletin (http://chi.gospelcom.net/GLIMPSEF/Glimpses/glmps168.shtml)

"Another kind of prayer meeting made a difference half a century later in New York City. It was not a good time for churches in downtown Manhattan, and the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street resorted to creative measures, hiring a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier as a sort of outreach minister. He knocked on doors in the neighborhood and distributed pamphlets and Bibles, but response generally was dismal.

"One day as I was walking along the streets," Lanphier wrote in his journal, "the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from twelve to one o'clock, would be beneficial to businessmen." The idea blossomed: a weekly prayer time, open to anyone, bankers to broom-pushers. Come when you can, leave when you must. Handbills advertised the first meeting--at noon on September 23, 1857.

Lanphier waited for the first attenders. No one showed up for the first ten minutes, twenty, thirty. Then one man straggled in, then another. The hour ended with six men present, praying. The following week there were twenty, the next week forty. Soon a hundred. Some of them wanted to meet every day. Rooms were packed. The church had to ask another church to handle the overflow. When churches ran out of room, the prayer meetings moved to theaters. By March, 1858, the New York Times could report that Burton's Theater on Chambers Street was packed as famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher led a crowd of 3,000 in prayer. Some estimated that up to a million people became Christians in the 1857-58 revival.

What caused such immense interest in prayer? A stock market crash might have had something to do with it. Business leaders enslaved by money were suddenly seeking a more reliable master. When he started his humble prayer time, Jeremiah Lanphier had no way of knowing about the impending financial collapse. He just knew people needed to pray."

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