In 1857, our nation was on the verge of a civil war; in the major cities, drunkenness and homelessness were at epidemic levels. Over 30,000 men were out of work in New York. The Dutch Reformed Church, on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan, was considering shutting its doors.
Despite low attendance and dismal giving, the council of the church at Fulton Street decided to give one man, a layman, a businessman, a shot at reviving the congregation. That man was Jeremy Lanphier. With an unshakable belief in a prayer answering God, Mr. Lanphier called a prayer meeting on Wednesday, September 23rd. Only five men showed up.
But the next week, 14 men came, and then 23 at the next meeting, and the next week 40 came. Within just a few weeks there were thousands of business leaders meeting daily all over the city. In 1858, Horace Greely, the famous editor, sent a man to see what was happening in the churches. He was unable to visit but a dozen prayer meetings in one hour, and found more than 6,000+ men. Soon, every downtown theater and auditorium was filled. 5,000 jammed into the Brooklyn Theater.
God’s providential hand moved powerfully and the “Businessmen’s Prayer Meeting” spread across the nation. Over the next two years, from 1857-1859, it estimated that over 1 million people were converted out of a national population of 35 million. This is the greatest harvest of souls our nation has ever experienced! Most historians call this America’s Third Great Awakening.
What Can We Learn From the Fulton Street Revival?
- A simple man or woman, with a passion for God and His Kingdom, can start a prayer meeting that just might explode into a great work of God.
- When God wants to touch a nation, He will use anyone who is willing to listen for His voice and obey His direction.
- The prayer meetings in 1857, were simple, with no long prayers or complicated format.
- The people who came, believed God would answer their prayers, and then went out, and led their friends to Christ.
52 Days of Prayer
God is leading our church, The Road @ Chapel Hills, to pray at noon, starting yesterday on the anniversary of Jeremy Lanphier beginning his prayer gathering in 1857. We will pray for the next 52 days. The 52 days came from the time frame Nehemiah gave for the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15). We will pray Monday through Friday at noon in the sanctuary at our church.
Yesterday, on Wednesday, September 23rd, we had 42 people show up.
My son, Daniel, has commenced a Zoom call with other business leaders that he is calling “Zoom Awakening” at noon each weekday, to join us in prayer for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let me encourage you, if you can’t join us at The Road sanctuary, start a Zoom call prayer gathering wherever you are; start a noon day prayer meeting at your work, or in your home. Join us.
Prayer is the start!
Steve Holt M.A., D.D.