Tales of spiritual awakening can be inspirational
March 21, 2006
“In September 1857, a man of prayer, Jeremiah Lanphier, started a businessmen’s prayer meeting in the upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church Consistory Building in Manhattan. In response to his advertisement, only six people out of a population of a million showed up. But the following week there were 14, and then 23 when it was decided to meet every day for prayer. By late winter they were filling the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church on John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway at Wall Street. In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in downtown New York City was filled.
Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing around the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying. In one hour he got to 12 meetings and counted 6,100 men attending.
Then a landslide of prayer began, which overflowed to the churches in the evenings. People began to be converted, 10,000 a week in New York City alone. The movement spread throughout New England, the church bells bringing people to prayer at 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. The revival raced up the Hudson and down the Mohawk, where the Baptists, for example, had so many people to baptize that they went down to the river, cut a big hole in the ice, and baptized them in the cold water. When the Baptists do that they are really on fire!” – (excerpts from a video by J. Edwin Orr)
Question: What is spiritual awakening or a movement of God?
Answer: Spiritual Awakening is an infusion of divine life into the church which enables the church to love unconditionally, rejoice exceedingly, witness effectively and live victoriously/walk in a holy manner. – (Roy Fish)
Question: Why is it so important today and why write about it?
Answer: In 1972 I met J. Edwin Orr, a revivalist. When Orr spoke, I was totally intrigued by his comments about how God has worked in the past. I pondered these things.
In 1975 or 1976 at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, I walked into Fish’s office one day and he introduced me to Orr. Orr would come later and eat with my family and me.
I would continue to read and listen and learn about spiritual awakening, the great movements of God, the men God would use and the amazing results that would come from these movements. I would see Orr through the years and write him from time to time. He would always answer. He went to be with the Lord in 1987.
Since that time others have taken up that mantle. Malcolm McDowell, evangelism professor of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, Alvin Reid, evangelism professor at Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. John Avant of the North American Mission Board would tell and retell the story of the Brownsville revival.
Question: Why study the past, especially what God has done in the revival?
Answer: Alvin Reid said this. “As I have shared the story of modern awakening in classrooms and in churches, it has become apparent that a growing number of believers, including educators, ministers, and laity, long to know more about past accounts of great outpourings of the Spirit…it will provide a faithful narrative of more significant movements of revivals. It is an effort to inform believers to understand what revival is and to inspire believers to pray with the prophet, ‘Oh, that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down.’ (Isaiah 64:1)” (From the book Fire Fall by McDowell and Reid.)
So that’s what this column is about. My prayer is that through the explanations and stories of revival, prayers and evangelism that God would sweep across our hearts, our churches, our denomination and here in Missouri, and be a catalyst for nationwide revival.
Remember, Missouri Matters!
If you have questions or want help in these areas, email Ron Barker at r email@example.com. (Ron Barker is personal evangelism/spiritual awakening specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention.)