Prayer & Revival Part 1
As part of our series on the book of James, Rob took the passage from James 5:13-18 to call the church to pray. You can listen to the podcast. Richard Moores has taken up the baton to write about the history of prayer and revival.
“When God has something very great to accomplish for his church it is His will that there should precede it, the extraordinary prayers of his people. When God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He begins with as remarkable outpouring of his spirit of grace and a desire to pray”.
These words were spoken by Jonathan Edwards who knew a thing or two about revival. Jonathan saw the vast majority of the population of Northampton in New England some to faith in 1735.
Prayer has always been the ignition and fuel which has sparked an outpouring from God to bring change through God’s people.
From New England in 1734, to Wales 1735, to America, Wales, England & Scotland in 1858-9, to Wales again 1904, to Hebrides in 1949, through to Brazil, China, Korea, Indonesia in the second part of 20th Century, prayer has fired up and fuelled revivals.
To spark our prayers as we seek God to move again in our nation and beyond, let’s be inspired by those who took God at His word and humbled themselves to pray, then witnessed God healing lives.
1858 New England
The years 1858-9 have got to be golden years which witnessed God moving in many nations often independently.
Jeremiah Lanphier was a man like any other but he had a burden for the lost and at a time when the US was on the verge of a financial crisis, he advertised a prayer meeting for 23rd September 1857 at Fulton Street, New York. His prayer was simple yet effective, “God, would you bless this country”. After a slow start, by the start of 1858 over 6000 were meeting daily to pray, then news spread and similar meetings started in Boston, Chicago, Washington & others.
By May 1858 out of a population of 800,000 in New York there were an estimated 50,000 souls saved and added to churches. Across all cities impacted by this revival, out of a combined population of 30 million some 1 million were saved.
That’s the equivalent of 2.2 million new souls saved with a couple of years in the UK!
1859 Ulster & Britain
Meanwhile in Ulster in the same month Jeremiah Lanphier had his first meeting in New York, 4 young Irishmen began to meet weekly in a village near Ballymena. As news from America about the outpouring came to Ulster, many more began to pray. The revival in Ulster during 1859 saw an estimated 100,000 people saved and added to churches. In Belfast with a population of 120,000 during 1859 a quarter of people attended church meetings. That’s 25% of people following Jesus?!
Communities were transformed and in 1860 the Grand Jury was informed that crime had reduced to negligible numbers, and throughout Ulster judges often found themselves with no cases to try.
News also travelled to Wales where during this period an estimated 100,000 or 10% of the population were added to churches. In Scotland revival came to Glasgow then spread throughout the country after a prayer meeting in Coleraine prayed for Scotland. Finally, in England where in London C.H. Spurgeon lovingly termed the ‘prince of preachers’ wrote in 1860 “The times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord have at last dawned upon our land. A spirit of prayer is visiting our churches”.
Next time we’ll look into the 20th century for more inspiring stories of God moving when people pray.