|Commentary: Church calls for sweeping prayer revival|
Whittier (Calif.) Evangelical United Methodist Church is
inviting United Methodists to unite in prayer on Sept. 23, the 150th
anniversary of the Fulton Street Prayer Revival that sparked a revival
in churches across the United States.
A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry.
A UMNS Commentary
By the Rev. Dwight Sullivan*
Sept. 4, 2007
Sept. 23 marks the 150th anniversary of the Fulton Street Prayer Revival, an amazing religious event in U.S. history.
The Rev. Dwight Sullivan
This massive wave of prayer swept across the nation — changing lives for Jesus Christ and reviving entire denominations.
Almost 150 years later, might this be the time for another mighty movement erupting from prayer?
Jeremiah C. Lamphier, a layman, started the revolution because he was
helping his declining church near Wall Street in New York City. Posting
flyers announcing a noon prayer meeting, he prayed alone in an empty
room for the first half hour.
Finally someone joined him. Before the hour was over, six had
attended. It was an ordinary prayer meeting, fervent but unspectacular.
Meeting the next week, 20 attended. When 40 appeared the following week,
they decided to go daily.
On Oct. 14, 1857, Wall Street experienced the Panic of 1857, one of
the worst financial crises in American history. By the month’s end,
another 100 people were participating in the daily prayer meeting.
Newspaper accounts of a November spiritual revival in Ontario,
Canada, spurred prayer meetings throughout America. In New York City,
the prayer movement spread so that by March 1858, newspapers reported
that 10,000 businessmen were meeting regularly to pray. Every available
room in churches was packed at noon for prayer and at evening for
services. The happening gained front-page headlines in New York
The fervency for prayer swept into Philadelphia and up into Boston
and the Northeast. Like a wave, the movement splashed into Chicago and
the Midwest. Though it started in the North, the spirit of prayer
rippled into the South. Thousands came to Christ. Churches gained
Amazingly, it began by a layperson leading a small, obscure prayer
group. It swelled into a tidal wave of prayer washing the nation,
changing lives and reviving declining churches. It sounds like a plot in
some cheesy Christian film, but it really happened!
Power of prayer
Many citizens believe the United States is going in the wrong
direction. We are pelted with stories of business corruption,
overcrowded prisons, sexual wrongdoings, broken families, drug use and
The power of the 1857 revival came from prayer. Its spark was ignited
by fervent laity. Its strength came from people from many churches and
backgrounds praying with one another.
"Amazingly, it began by a layperson leading
a small, obscure prayer group. It swelled into a tidal wave of prayer
washing the nation, changing lives and reviving declining churches."
Isn’t this something that "ordinary" people can do today? It doesn’t
take much money to pray. You can convene prayer in your church. Anyone
can invite others. You don’t have to be a bishop or have a Ph.D. to pray
In late May 2007, pastors in Whittier, Calif., issued a call to
convene for "A Holy Hour of Community Prayer." A dozen pastors and laity
from different denominations gathered at 9 a.m. to pray for God to move
churches to work together for Jesus’ work locally.
Held at the Whittier Evangelical United Methodist Church, the meeting
was permeated with music, sharing and prayer. A high point occurred
when one pastor read Psalm 22 with tears and conviction because he could
identify with its pain and hope.
After the spirited, moving and bonding time together, we decided to
have another community prayer on Sept. 25, around the 150th anniversary
of the Fulton Street Prayer Revival. In a non-sectarian spirit, a local
Baptist Church will host this time of prayer for God’s revival of the
United States, beginning with us.
Will you pray with us?
What if churches all over this land were to convene with other
churches to pray for God’s conviction and grace through Jesus Christ in
"What would happen if churches laid aside
denominational differences to unite in prayer for each other and our
nation? The Fulton Street Prayer Revival gives us a glimpse!"
We of Whittier Evangelical United Methodist Church challenge United
Methodist churches across the United States to call prayer meetings
around Sept. 23. With more than 35,000 churches in The United Methodist
Church, if only 10 percent respond, there would be more than 3,500
churches praying in concert for "God’s Revival!"
Unfortunately, too many communities have weak or nonexistent
ministerial fellowship organizations. Too often our churches are
isolated, acting like an island unto themselves.
What would happen if churches laid aside denominational differences
to unite in prayer for each other and our nation? The Fulton Street
Prayer Revival gives us a glimpse!
From our church to your church, will you pray with us? From our
community to yours, will you take the challenge to pray for your
community and our nation this Sept. 23, the 150th anniversary of the
Fulton Street Prayer Revival?
*Sullivan is pastor of Whittier (Ca.) Evangelical United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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