Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jeremiah Lanphier: One man’s obedience to prayer

In 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier was at a crossroads in his life; he was a single, middle-aged businessman without children and family.  Following his heart to reach the neediest around him, he put aside his regular business and began to work with the North Dutch Church in Manhattan as a lay missionary.  At that time, there were 30,000 men idle on the streets of New York.  Drunkenness was rampant, and the nation was divided by slavery.  Ministering in the dark slums of Hell’s Kitchen, Lanphier poured himself into the lives of people who were homeless, helpless and hopeless.  Month after month he went door to door sharing the Good News, distributing tracts, and holding Bible studies with whomever would listen.  

Lanphier would begin each day going from office to office, house to house, and shop to shop; but by midday he was physically, emotionally and spiritually worn out.  He discovered that, even as the body needs food, the soul and spirit need prayer.  Lanphier realized his need and regularly returned to a room in the church Consistory building to cry out to God for spiritual strength.  This fresh, personal experience of the power of prayer suggested to Lanphier that there might be others, especially those engaged in business, who might profit from time in prayer.  He handed out some 20,000 flyers advertising the first noonday prayer meeting on September 23, 1857.  

For the first thirty minutes he sat alone praying.  Eventually, steps were heard coming up the staircase and another joined.  Then another and another until Lanphier was joined by five men.  The next Wednesday the six increased to twenty. The following week there were 40.  Lanphier and the others then decided to meet daily, and within weeks thousands of business leaders were meeting for prayer each day.  Before long over 100 churches and public meeting halls were filled with noonday prayer meetings.  God moved so powerfully that similar prayer meetings sprang up around the nation.  For a season there were 10,000 conversions to Christ each week in New York City, and it is estimated that nearly one million people across the U.S. were transformed during this incredible move of God.

One man’s obedience to prayer… began a revival… that transformed a nation.

No comments: