What would happen if the body of Christ united in prayer and repentance? For weeks I have sensed an urgency in my spirit for prayer and intercession to arise from the body of Christ. It is not only an urgency to pray when calamity strikes, but it is an urgency to pray without ceasing and to be a catalyst for the next great move of God. It is by no mistake that I release this word on this particular day. It was on this day one hundred and sixty years ago that a movement began, fanning the flames of the third great awakening in our nation. It started with a key ingredient necessary for revival and reformation. It started with a prayer meeting.
There is a famous expression, “history repeats itself”. It is a true statement, not only in regards to atrocities but also to triumphs over darkness. If you were to look at the history of our nation in 1857, you would see some striking parallels. During that time there were several areas of spiritual decline manifesting among the masses. The nation saw a rise in violent crime and immorality. The love of money prevailed along with commercial and political corruption. The occult dominated society while indifference toward God and the church escalated. False predictions of the world ending brought disappointment and apathy, and racial tensions boiled as civil war loomed on the horizon. Does this sound familiar?
Yes, human history has a way of repeating itself, and so does the history of revival. It was during this time a man by the name of Jeremy Lanphier, a businessman turned missionary, purposed in his heart to hold a prayer meeting in downtown New York. On September 23, 1857, Jeremy waited for thirty minutes in Fulton Street church before six businessmen showed up to pray, responding to ads he had dispersed regarding the prayer meeting. The next week, twenty men showed up, and soon the meetings went from weekly gatherings to daily gatherings.
Three weeks later, a great financial crisis drove multitudes to prayer. It is said that within six months of the initial prayer meeting, ten thousand businessmen met daily for prayer, confessing their sins, receiving salvation and praying for revival. People gathered in stores, company buildings and churches. The prayer meetings spread from New York to Philadelphia and other cities, eventually going across our entire nation from coast to coast.
Revival is countercultural
Revival is not meant to be a subculture, but a counterculture, and when revival manifests in the body of Christ, transformation should be taking place in the culture around us. In 1857, America encountered change because of these prayer meetings. Thousands of jails, prisons and theaters were either converted into churches or closed. It was the first time that revival meetings were headlines on the front page of newspapers. Imagine what could happen in our nation if the headlines involved the church in revival instead of scandal.
During that time, compassion and integrity were restored within society. In one year, one million converts were added to the body of Christ, and it is estimated that as many church members were also converted. As I read about this revival, I was stirred in my spirit, and I knew it was no coincidence the Lord reminded me of this awakening in our nation. History does repeat itself. We are primed for revival to repeat itself and to usher in the next great move of God.
This is a wake up call
This is not a typical post for me, and that is all right. As Charles Finney said during this movement, “We have had instruction until we are hardened; it is now time for us to pray”. We need a wake up call. We need a history lesson once again to remind us of what can happen when we unite for the sake of His Kingdom. It is a simple prophetic word: we are being invited by the Lord to pray and to intercede once again. We are being beckoned to humble ourselves and to seek the heart of the Father. This is the call to the royal priesthood and not an elite few. It is easy to shout when hearing 1 Peter 2:9 until you realize that something is required of you.
We are to shine with the light of Christ. He is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). What would happen if prayer meetings broke out once again in cities like New York and Chicago? What if the church set the spiritual climate once again to where jails were emptied and bars and such were abandoned? Imagine what the Lord could do with a church re-membered instead of dismembered, a church refusing discord and disunity and embracing Jesus and His standard instead of white knuckling on our gender, or our racial background, or our economic status as our end all identity.
It is no coincidence that the Lord recently reminded me of this movement leading up to the anniversary of this revival. Saints, do not believe the lie that prayer is powerless and a waste of time. Do not believe the lie that prayer is boring. Prayer is warfare. Prayer is a conversation with the King. Prayer is a sweet aroma to Christ. Now is not the time to cower in fear. It is the time to bow and pray and to hear His voice on the matters at hand so that we know how to intercede. Now is the time to get low before Jesus. Revival is birthed through prayer. This is my prayer. Let it begin with me, Lord.