[anzac] "When REVIVAL RAN EPIDEMIC"

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 14:37:17 -0500
"When REVIVAL RAN EPIDEMIC"
-from 'Glimpses' #41.

Sometimes it is during the days of  hopelessness and despair that 
revival comes to a people! So it was in the middle of the nineteenth 
century. In the United States, it was a spiritual, political, and 
economic low point. Many people had become disillusioned with 
spiritual things because of preachers who had repeatedly and 
falsely predicted the end of the world in the 1840's.  

Agitation over the slavery issue had bred much political unrest, and 
civil war seemed imminent. A financial panic hit in 1857. Banks 
failed, railroads were bankrupt, factories closed, unemployment 
increased. Many Christians realized the need for prayer in such 
dire situations, and prayer-meetings began to spread around the 
country.  

In the lower Manhattan section of New York, a Dutch Reformed 
church had been steadily losing members; they hired missionary 
Jeremiah Lamphier to reverse the trend with an active visitation 
program. However, he had little success in awakening church 
members by his visits, so in September, 1857, he rented a hall on 
Fulton street in New York City and advertised its availability for 
prayer meetings. Six men assembled for that first prayer meeting 
on September 23. Two days later the Bank of Philadelphia failed. 
In October the men began praying together daily; on October 10 
the stock market crashed. The financial panic triggered a religious 
awakening, and people flocked to the prayer meetings. Within six
months 10,000 people were gathering daily for prayer in New York 
City alone.

The movement explodes: 

Other cities also were experiencing a renewed interest in prayer. 
In Chicago, the Metropolitan Theater was filled every day with 
2000 people assembling for prayer. In Louisville, several thousand 
came to the Masonic Temple for prayer each morning. Two 
thousand assembled for daily prayer in Cleveland,  and the 
St. Louis churches were filled for months at a time. The newly  
formed YMCA also played an important role in holding prayer 
meetings and spreading the revival throughout the country. 

When media actually helped 

In February 1858, Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald gave 
extensive coverage to the prayer meeting revival. Not to be outdone, 
the New York Tribune devoted an entire issue in April, 1858 to 
news of the revival. News of the revival quickly traveled westward 
by telegraph. This was the first revival in  which the media played 
an important role in spreading the revival. 

Prayer everywhere 

The prayer meetings were organized in the cities by lay people 
and were interdenominational.  

Unlike earlier awakenings, prayer rather than preaching was the 
main  instrument of revival. Tents were often set up as places 
where people  could gather for prayer, introducing a custom 
followed by later revivalists. The meetings themselves were very 
informal -- any person might pray, exhort, lead in a song, or give 
a word of testimony, with a five minute limit placed on each 
speaker. In spite of the less structured nature of the prayer 
meetings, they lacked the extreme emotionalism which some 
had criticized in earlier revivals.

This was the first revival beginning in America with a worldwide 
impact. From the United States the revival spread to Ireland, 
Scotland, Wales, England, Europe, South Africa, India, Australia,
and the Pacific islands. In geographical and proportionate 
numerical extent, the revival of 1857-1860 has not been equaled. 
Even ships coming into British ports told of the revival in America.  
Ireland soon began to experience a prayer meeting revival as well, 
with crowds becoming so large they had to meet in the open air. 
When John Cairns preached in Belfast in May, 1859, he had 
never before seen such eagerness to hear the gospel or lives 
which had been so transformed by the revival. He said: "Nature 
does not contain any epidemic so like to Christian conversion." 

When Andrew Bonar heard of the work in Ireland, he increased his
prayer for a revival in Scotland. In his diary of July 3, 1859, he 
wrote, "Again this night in sorrow of heart over the terrible 
carelessness, indifference, deadness of this 'valley of dry bones.' 
O my God, come over to Scotland  and help us!"  Within two 
months Andrew Bonar found himself in the midst of revival in  
Scotland. On September 10th he wrote in his diary, "This has 
been a remarkable week: every day I have heard of some soul 
saved among us..."  All classes became interested in salvation, 
backsliders returned, conversions increased, and Christians 
desired a deeper instruction in spiritual truths. Families 
established daily devotions, and entire communities underwent
a noticeable change in morals. Not celebrities but ordinary people 
praying. Similar changes were noted as the revival spread to 
Wales, England, and beyond.

There was an absence of great names connected with the revival; 
lay people in prayer were the prime instruments used by God in  
awakening the people. The preaching, which in many areas had 
become too intellectual and lifeless, now concentrated on the 
truths of the gospel of Christ and His cross. The results of the 
revival of 1859 in the areas of evangelism, missions, and social 
action continued for decades. 

Many who became Christian leaders during the second half of the 
nineteenth century were greatly affected by the revival-- such as 
D.L. Moody, William Booth, C.H.  Spurgeon, and A.B. Simpson. 
As James Buchanan of Scotland summarized, it  was a time when 
"new spiritual life was imparted to the dead, and new spiritual 
health imparted to the living."    

Getting a people spiritually ready to face tragedy?

The revival of 1859 had similar effects in the  North and the South, 
and may have prepared many Americans  spiritually to survive the 
horrors of the war that broke out a few years later. The awakening 
continued into the Civil War period, a great revival occurring in the 
Southern armies in 1863-64.

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