American Church History 101
Like all major revivals and awakenings, the stirrings of the Spirit began with prayer in a tense situation in 1857.
Gold, banks, railroads, and industrial plants had hearkened the golden age of American prosperity.
"The great panic which broke out in Wall Street, October 12, 1857, was the handwriting on the wall. . . . Banks failed, business houses closed, railroads went into bankruptcy, and all business was at a standstill."
Out of this carious situation, the Lord was about to move powerfully on America again.
His move was a spontaneous, ecumenical, lay-led prayer meeting movement led by an unknown inner city missionary in New York.
Daily prayer meetings swept over New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New England.
Then the prayer fever swept into the South and west to Texas.
Prayer for the nation, its leaders, and personal concerns were the rage and immediately reaped a harvest of souls in the North, continuing to win people to Christ later in the South.
An old book about it.
A Story about it.
Video's about this 1859 revival and how it happened and can happen again:
Men of God
John Wesley Redfield was a man who awakened both the sleeping sinner and careless Christian.
When Mr. Redfield prayed or preached men and women were touched by Jesus and went home different than when they came.
Under the influence of Mr. Redfield's ministry, the slaves of sin were brought to repentance and totally set free.
Wherever he preached, church after church seemed to be effected in the same way.
On one occasion Mr. Redfield entered the pulpit with an especially intense and heavy burden pressing upon his heart.
Without hesitation he began his message by clearly describing all those who had lived in the church for years without true saving grace; who had sat under the most searching gospel ministry; who had seen the truth lived out before them and yet rejected it all.
With passion he warned all those who had shunned the narrow path of repentance and the cross of Christ.
As Mr. Redfield spoke the Holy Spirit brought a shaking conviction of sin upon the entire congregation.
Some cried out, some fell prostrate before they could get to the altar, and others fell at the altar.
The slain lay in some places totally helpless, one upon another until the aisles were closed for hours.
At this exact same time, people miles away also fell under the power of God in the seclusion of their own homes.
The key to John Wesley Redfield's success was his total and unrelenting dependence upon Jesus Christ.
Through many trials he had learned that he could truly do nothing apart from Jesus. Is it not true, that much of our failure to bring forth lasting change lies at the feet of our own self-dependence and pride?
We must recover our simplicity and joy of devotion to Jesus. We must repent and put away our methods and programs of self-reliance and once again embrace the "better part" of sitting at the feet of Jesus in humility and prayer.
Fire kindles more fire. In 1904 one of the most significant revivals of the modern Church age swept through Wales.
News of the Welsh revival quickly encircled the globe, bringing with it sparks of hope and expectation. Soon revival fires were burning in India, China, Korea and America. Instrumental in the revival in India was a young woman by the name of Pandita Ramabai. G. H. Lang after spending some time at Mukti observing the revival wrote, "little girls were lost for hours in the transport of loving Jesus and praising Him. Young Christians were counting it a rare privilege to spend many successive hours in intercessory prayer for strangers never seen or known . . . In one meeting we were seventeen hours together; the following day more than fifteen hours passed before the meeting broke up with great joy." "Dr. Nicol MacNicol, the scholarly biographer of Pandita Ramabai reported that these who seemed to have such emotional blessings at the time of the revival were still living steadfast, godly lives twenty years later." E. M. Bounds in his classic little book "Power Through Prayer", wrote, "What the Church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use - men of prayer, men mighty in prayer." John Oxtoby, affectionately known as "Praying Johnny". Praying Johnny was not known for his culture or great intellect, he possessed neither. What he possessed was the faith that moves mountains. His speech and words were not considered eloquent to the ears of men, yet they were always sweet to the Father's ear. "Six hours each day he usually spent on his knees, pleading with God, in behalf of himself, the Church and sinners." "When travailing in anguish for a revival in the neighborhood in which he was laboring and when deeply anxious to see the glory of the Lord revealed, he spent many hours in secluded retirement; and has sometimes in this manner devoted whole days and nights to God." Praying Johnny not only exercised the power of prayer in the closet, but also in the public assembly. Often in answer to his public prayers whole assemblies were slain by the power of the Holy Spirit. Strong men struck with conviction fell to their knees and cried for mercy. "And I sought for a MAN among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. - Ezek. 22:30. It was Seth Joshua who once wrote "All prayer is hidden. It is behind a closed door. The best spade diggers go down into deep ditches out of sight. There are numbers of surface workers, but few who in self-obliteration toil alone with God." J. Pengwern Jones recalls the prayer life of John Hyde. "He was always on his knees when I went to bed, and on his knees long before I was up in the morning, though I was up with the dawn. He would also light the lamp several times in the night, and feast on some passages of the Word, and then have a little talk with the Master. He sometimes remained on his knees the whole day. The Spirit made him an object-lesson to us, that we might have a better idea of Christ's prayer life." "What is the secret of the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Does God endue men in a sort of haphazard way? Has He favorites? Certainly not! God's difficulty is to find men who are willing to pay the price." Mordecai Ham was a man who was willing to pay the price and as a result was powerfully anointed by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Hams thoughts on the hindrances of true revival. "One of our troubles is we are not willing to humble ourselves. We are not willing to give up our opinions as to how things should be done. We want a revival to come just in our way. You never saw two revivals come just alike. We must let them come in God's way. People are ashamed to admit they need a revival. If you are not willing to take the shame on yourself, you then let it remain on Jesus Christ. You must bear the reproach of your sinful state of indifference, or the cause of our Master must bear it." "Above all George Fox excelled in prayer." It was his habit to wait in silence for the movement of the Holy Spirit and then begin to pray, causing whole congregations to be shaken and humbled under the hand of God Almighty. "As he prayed the power of God came down in such a marvelous manner the very building seemed to rock." Through the ministry of George Fox, a glimmer of Apostolic power was revealed to seventeenth century England. He was a man of the Spirit in an age that emphasized theological and scriptural accuracy at the expense of the power of the Holy Ghost. He always stressed the importance of a Spirit filled life and refused to let dead orthodoxy be a veil for the works of the flesh. "Chareles Finney seemed so anointed with the Holy Spirit that people were often brought under conviction of sin just by looking at him. When holding meetings at Utica, New York, he visited a large factory. At the sight of him one of the workers, and then another, and then another broke down and wept under a sense of their sins, and finally so many were sobbing and weeping that the machinery had to be stopped while Finney pointed them to Christ." Revivals are seasons of intense and rapid spiritual growth, and such growth always involves change. Growing children demand new and larger garments, just as growing trees need room for their expanding roots. The sincere seekers of lasting revival must be willing to change and yield to the Spirit's control. The wind, water, and fire of the Holy Ghost are ever moving elements that require plenty of room to breathe. We must beware of quenching and smothering the influence of the Holy Spirit by our predetermined preferences and stiff religious traditions. True revival will not come through our fleshly might or organizational power, but ONLY by God's Spirit! Have we given the Holy Spirit permission to change US? It became increasingly apparent that E. M. Bounds was gifted in building and reviving the Church. This prophet of prayer often made preachers uncomfortable with his call for holiness and his attacks on lusting for money, prestige and power. "His constant call for revival annoyed those who believed that the Church was essentially sound . . ." God gave him a great prayer commission, requiring daily intercession. He labored in prayer for the sanctification of preachers, revival of the Church in North America and the spread of holiness among professing Christians. He spent a minimum of three to four hours a day in fervent prayer. "Sometimes the venerable mystic would lie flat on his back and talk to God; but many hours were spent on his knees or lying face down where he could be heard weeping . . . Andrew Bonar was a man who was intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ. As a result he saw what Jesus saw and therefore cared, wept and prayed like Jesus. Far too often our own eyes are dry because our eyes are blind to the needs around us. Many of us have become blinded by the temporal, till we can no longer see the eternal reality of the holiness of heaven and horrors of hell. Lord draw us back to the prayer closet where blind eyes see and hardened hearts are broken. Lord, have mercy and bring us to brokenness!