Jeremiah Lanphier, a tall, quiet middle-aged former businessman climbed creaking stairs to the third story of an old church building in the heart of lower New York City.
It was the 23rd September 1857. As Jeremiah entered an empty room, he pulled out his pocket watch and sat down to wait. The placard outside read: “Prayer Meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock—Stop 5, 10, or 20 minutes, or the whole hour, as your time admits.” It looked like no one had the time. As the minutes ticked by, the solitary waiter wondered if it were all a mistake.
He waited ten minutes, then ten more. Then one man came in, then another and another until there were six. After a few minutes of prayer the meeting was dismissed with the decision that another meeting would be held the following Wednesday.
Two weeks later, they decided to move to a daily schedule of prayer.
Those small meeting were in no way extraordinary. There was no great outpouring of the Spirit of God. Jeremiah Lanphier had no way of knowing those prayer meeting were to be instrumental, and the beginnings of a great national revival .
But within six months, 10,000 men were gathering to pray, and that movement spread across America.
Within two years there were one million new believers added to the church. The movement swept out to touch England, Scotland, and Wales.
When news reached Ireland of what was happening in America, three young men gathered to meet for prayer in a schoolhouse on March 14, 1859. They prayed and prayed for revival. Within a couple of months a similar prayer meeting was launched in Belfast. By September 21, 20,000 people assembled to pray for the whole of Ireland.
Within one year, more than a million people turned to God, out of a population of thirty million.
That move of God lasted for a generation, but in the early 1900’s again there was a great need for God to move in people’s hearts.
Once again a general movement of prayer began, with special prayer meetings at Moody Bible Institute, at Keswick Conventions in England, and places as far apart as Melbourne, Korea, and India. So all around the world believers were praying that there might be another great awakening.
Revival broke out.
In Portland in Oregon two hundred and forty major stores closed from 11 to 2 each day to enable people to attend prayer meetings, signing an agreement so that no one would cheat and stay open.
Once again God honoured His word.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The Churches of Atlantic City reported that out of a population of fifty thousand people, there were only fifty adults left in the entire city who hadn’t asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
Why is the story of these revivals important to us?
Because it demonstrates again and again how God can start with and use one dedicated faith-filled person to work out His purposes.
Jeremiah Lanphier, and all those like him are an inspiration to all the seemingly quiet, unassuming people everywhere. Their lives remind us that God will use everyone and anyone to do mighty things.
In His own words Jeremiah Lanphier’s dedication to the work came only after a struggle and a decision to totally 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;”
God is looking for people who will willingly go where He asks, speak when He says speak, and persevere in prayer until something happens!
Set yourself apart to be used by God. If we keep doing the same old things we are going to get the same results.
Let’s make a decision to pray and believe for God to move once again. To be the instruments of change the world so desperately needs.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Prayer: Thank you Lord for all those men and women who have gone before us, who dared to believe and stood up in their hour. Help me to see myself as you see me, someone you can use. You have created and positioned me for such a time as this. Use me Lord. In Jesus Name Amen.