|CBN.com -- 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 1850's 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 sanctuary.
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
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 to pray -- what could