The American Revival of 1857-1859
This was a layman’s revival, a business man’s revival, and especially a prayer revival.
Here is a description of the Revival, how it started and how it spread like a prairie fire through the United States and Canada through the years 1857 – 1859.
A prayer meeting was started by Jeremiah Lanphier, a layman with the Dutch Reformed Church in New York. Noticing that the businessmen in that city were looking downcast at the economic state of the country at that time, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to hold a midday prayer meeting on the third floor of the church in Fulton Street for one hour, each Wednesday. Notices to this effect were posted at suitable locations in the City.
At first he was the only person present, but after half hour a further five men joined him. The second week twenty businessmen turned up and then forty the following week. They then agreed to meet every day, and on the first day, 100 men turned up, many of whom were not Christians. After three months every room of that church was filled with men praying, with others on the outside kneeling together praying because they couldn’t get in the church.
Another church nearby was opened for prayer, but that also became filled. A theatre was then hired for this purpose, and on the first day, half an hour before the announced time, it was packed to capacity, again with men on the outside praying because they couldn’t get in. Within six months there were 150 prayer meetings like this going on somewhere in New York City, with 50,000 gathered for prayer.
This also became a means of outreach and appeals were made for people to receive Christ, and no less than 25,000 businessmen were converted. It was not uncommon to see a hundred people come down the aisle of a church at invitation time confessing their sins openly, and receiving Christ into their life. Soon a common mid-day sign on business premises read “We will re-open at the close of the prayer meeting.”
As time went on the movement spread to the whole of the USA and Canada, and there were actually places where not a single person was left unconverted. Along the East Coast of America there was a zone of heavenly influence that affected even ships coming in from abroad, who knew nothing of the revival, but when they came within a few miles of land God got hold of people on board the ships and in some cases the whole of the crew got converted. Thirty captains of vessels like this were converted. During the period 1857 – 1859 no less than one million people were converted in the USA.
Can we imagine such an event occurring in New York today? . . . Maybe not, but something IS on God’s agenda.