It was the 23rd September 1857 as 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. As Jeremiah entered the empty room at the top of the stairs he pulled out his pocket watch and sat down to wait. The placard outside the door read: “Prayer Meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock—Stop 5, 10, or 20 minutes or the whole hour, as your time admits.” As the minutes ticked by Jeremiah wondered if it was all a mistake as it looked like no one had the time or interest.
Jeremiah waited ten minutes, then ten more. Finally one man entered the room, 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 these six men decided to move to a daily schedule of prayer.
Those small meeting were in no way extraordinary or even filled with a great outpouring of the Spirit of God. Jeremiah had no way of knowing as he began to pray that these gatherings would be instrumental to the beginnings of a great national revival.
But they were, for within six months 10,000 men were gathering to pray… and then the prayer movement started to spread across America. Within two years there was one million new believers added to the church and the movement swept out to touch England, Scotland, and Wales.
When news reached Ireland of what was happening in America three young men also were inspired to gather and ion March 14 1859 they began to meet for prayer in a schoolhouse. They prayed and prayed for revival. Within a couple of months a similar prayer meeting was launched in Belfast. By September, 20,000 people were assembling together 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. Then once again in the early 1900’s there was a great need for God to move in people’s hearts. 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. All around the world believers were praying that there might be another great awakening. They earnestly began to pray and then Revival broke out.
In Portland in Oregon two hundred and forty major stores closed from 11am to 2pm each day to enable people to attend prayer meetings with store owners signing an agreement that no one would stay open.
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.
So why is the story of these revivals important to us?
Because it demonstrates again and again how God can just start with and use just one dedicated faith-filled person to work out His purposes.
Jeremiah Lanphier and all those like him are an inspiration to 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!
I encourage you today to set yourself apart to be used by God. Let’s make a decision to pray and believe for God to move once again and to use each one of us as an instrument of change that our 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!”
“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)
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 and as someone you can use. You have created and positioned me for such a time as this. Please use me Lord. In Jesus Name Amen.