In the mid-nineteenth century, the United States was in a spiritual decline. The nation was in a period of rapid change, and the Gold Rush was causing many to go west in the hopes of fame and fortune


The 1850s had seen a powerful time in history that looks similar to today in many ways. For example:

  • The Ohio Insurance and Title company failed impacting many mortgages
  • The first global economic crisis started
  • The US and Global economy stalled
  • It became very difficult to get credit which further slowed the economy
  • Due to the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, racial issues were tense and along with economic issues, rioting broke out
  • Christianity was in decline and ridiculed due to the Millerites, who expected Christ to return in 1844


It was a time of prosperity, but as people began to gain wealth, the need for the Lord God began to disappear. The frontier lands offered fertile lands and new opportunities. Major cities saw rapid growth and industrial development.


Millerite apocalyptics predicted the Lord’s return in the mid-1840s, and when the time passed, it caused many to lose confidence in Christianity. Also, in America, the slavery issue was boiling, and the nation was becoming more and more divided.


But history seems to repeat itself, and many events that marked the pre-revival days are being seen once again. But the Lord was beginning to move on the hearts of His people to sound an alarm for a fresh revival


The call of Joel to sound an alarm is a spiritual wake-up call to all who know the sound and are sensitive to its meaning. The alarm call comes from the heart of the Father, and it cries out to His people. All who hear it become impregnated with a vision for the Father. Revival always starts in the Secret Place of the Father’s heart and is received by all who truly seek His face. The Father knew what was coming and calls His people to pray in His mercy. Through prayer, His will and desire are birthed on the earth. The Father seeks vessels and a voice that He can use. For He always uses human vessels as co-workers with Him to accomplish His great plan on the earth.


Reading the newspapers during the Revival, you can see how many had longed for the Revival for many years but never thought it would come. Year after year had passed, but their hope remained, and the Lord didn’t fail them.


Pre-Revival Days


In  New York, the church there began its first services in 1626, in ‘an upper room,’ of a horse mill. But over time the Dutch Reformed Church would grow, and in 1769, they dedicated the church building on Fulton. But as New York continued to grow as a city, space became needed for business, such as stores and warehouses. Homes began to disappear as families moved away and as a result, the members of the Dutch Reformed Church began to decline. Chambers wrote


As this process went on, the attendance at the North Church became more and more scanty and irregular, until at length the congregation even on the Lord’s day morning was reduced almost to a skeleton.1


The church began to take action to draw new members from the immigrants coming into the city. Placards were hung, inviting all to join their services, but their efforts were in vain. Then to add salt to their wounds, other churches began moving, yielding their space and buildings to progress.


The Dutch Reformed Church knew action had to be taken. In June 1857, it was decided to employ someone to help draw people to the church. In the minutes from the meeting, they recorded-


“Resolved, That the Elders and Deacons worshiping at the North Church, be a Committee to employ a suitable person or persons to be engaged in visiting the families in the vicinity, and inducing them to attend the services in that church; and also to bring children into the Sabbath school,2



Enter stage left, Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier. The Revival that was brewing in Hamilton, Ontario was among the laity. The Christian Advocate recorded the Revival and shared updates as more and more converts were being added. Revivals are infectious, and God was putting in place His vessel for a revival to sweep the United States. While Lanphier was a businessman, he also understood the importance of dwelling in the Secret Place by being a man of prayer and the Word.


In America, a hunger was stirring for Revival, and on December 1st, 1857, a convention was held in Pittsburgh by the Presbyterians. The three-day convention focused on Revival. This convention was followed by one at Cincinnati, and again, the focus was on how to birth and prepare for Revival.


Jeremiah Lanphier


On July 1st, 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier took up his appointment as a missionary in downtown New York. He began working at the North Church of the Dutch Reformed Faith.


Lanphier was described as


“tall, with a pleasant face, an affectionate manner and indomitable energy and perseverance; a good singer, gifted in prayer and exhortation, a welcome guest to any house, shrewd and endowed with much act, and common sense,”3


Lanphier was born in New York in 1809. In 1842, he was converted at the Broadway Tabernacle. Upon accepting his new position at the North church, he immediately retired from his secular business and began as a layman missionary. Lanphier was a man of prayer and with a burden for the lost. It was not just a job, but a calling and burden to him to reach people. He said about getting the new position-


God has only changed my place of service, not taken away the privilege of working for him. He has called me from active labor, it is true, but only that he may appoint me to another post of usefulness in his vineyard. Here I can suffer cheerfully and wait patiently for him; and here by prayer I can draw down innumerable blessings on suffering, heavy-laden hearts. What a glorious work mine may be! How many souls I may help in one of my quiet days! The mighty power of prayer is mine to wield whenever I will; and here in my exceeding weakness I can still be a “laborer with God.”18


We must understand that we work for the Master and that faithfulness, humility, and obedience always produce fruit for the Kingdom. Lanphier’s first response to overcoming the need was a noon prayer meeting. He also created and distributed a booklet, “How Often Shall I Pray.”


In the booklet he said-


“As often as the language of prayer is in my heart; as often as I see my need of help; as often as I feel the power of temptation; as often as I am made sensible of any spiritual declension, or feel the aggression of a worldly spirit. In prayer we leave the business of time for  that of eternity, and intercourse with men for intercourse with God.”4


It was said of Lanphier


Day after day, and many times a day, this man was on his knees, and his constant prayer was, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”15



Today we seek a fresh revival, and many have started prayer meetings. But simply the following formula does not bring success. Revival comes from those who respond from the heart to the sound of Heaven’s trumpet. Lanphier’s initial work blessed not just the North Church but other local churches. He invited people to come and would often pray with them and share tracts. His heart was to win people to the love of Christ while walking in integrity. Attendance grew at the North Church through his work of love and efforts. But brewing in Lanphier was something bigger, the noon prayer meeting.


During this time Lanphier found himself severely tested and challenged. Chambers wrote


On the contrary, he experienced frequent discouragements, and sometimes had his faith sorely tried and his hopes painfully frustrated. But on returning, to the room; in the Consistory building which he usually occupied, he was accustomed to spread out his sorrows: before the Lord, and seek fresh supplies of grace and zeal by communion with Him who is invisible. 5


Lanphier understood the importance of the Secret Place. Instead of complaining or quitting, he simply sought the Lord in the Secret Place. Chambers added-


“Waiting upon the Lord, he renewed his strength; calling upon God, he was answered. His own soul was cheered and refreshed, and he was enabled to set forth upon his daily rounds with a quickened sense of the Divine favour, and a heartier assurance that his labour would not be in vain in the Lord. 6


Birthing a revival requires holy desperation. In one of the parallaxes of the Kingdom, we discover we can only advance as we wait on the Lord. Heaven is looking for divine waiters or those who serve and minister to the Lord. Through his encounters and the refreshment he experienced through prayer in the Secret Place, Lanphier sought to help others enjoy the same blessings.


It was said of Lanphier


walking along the streets, the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from 12 to 1 o’clock, would be beneficial to business men.1


Lanphier presented his plan to the Committee, who failed to share his excitement regarding it, and agreed to allow him to hold his noon meetings. The meetings would be held every Wednesday and would last one hour as Lanphier understood most businesses allowed people an hour for lunch.


Lanphier declared on the invite to the noon prayer meeting saying-


“This meeting is intended to give merchants, mechanics, clerks, strangers and business men geberally, an opportunity to stop and call upon God amid the perplexities incident to their respective avocations. It will continue for one hour; but it is also designed  for those who may find it inconvenient to remain more than five or ten minutes, as well as for those who can spare the whole hour. The necessary interruption will be slight, because anticipated, and those who are in haste can often expedite their business engagements by halting to lift up their voices to the throne of grace in humble, grateful prayer. All are cordially invited.”


On the invite, Lanphier listed the key benefits of prayer. Lanphier set September 23rd, 1857, as the date it would all start on the third floor of the Consistory Building. It would occur just after Rosh Hashanah and just before Yom Kippur. His first meeting initially appeared to be a failure. Lanphier sat alone for thirty minutes before finally, he heard the steps of someone else joining him. Eventually, the number increased to six.


The six had increased to twenty at the next meeting on September 30th. Then on October 7th, that number increased to forty people. Lanphier, at this point, presented the case for doing a daily noon prayer meeting. On October 8th, the daily meeting began on the second floor of the Consistory Building. At the same time, a revival was breaking out in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada).


The daily prayer meetings occurred every day except for holidays celebrated in New York, such as New Years’ day, February 22nd, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and the Atlantic Cable Celebration in September 1858.


Lanphier established rules to ensure the meeting stayed focused. Firstly, there was the five-minute rule. Each person was allowed to pray for 5 minutes so as to monopolize the time. Other rules included being prompt. The meeting was to start with a reading and singing a hymn. The meeting was to be closed with a hymn as well.


In the meeting there was to be spontaneity. Chamber said-


After the opening, room is afforded to all without exception to take part in such way as their feelings may prompt, whether to offer prayer, to give a word of exhortation, to narrate an interesting incident, to tell of the Lord’s doings, elsewhere, to prefer a request for the remembrance in prayer of some person or subject, or even to commence the singing of a few verses of some familiar hymn.9


Many who went to the meetings spoke of how they loved singing the hymns. It seemed as if the hymn singing softened hearts for the Spirit to move. Chamber further explained regarding the meeting-


Special pains were taken to divest it of anything of a denominational or partisan cast. The hymn books used have been those issued by one of the general benevolent institutions sustained and controlled by evangelical Christians of every name. The leaders, whether lay or clerical, have been taken indiscriminately from nearly every known body of Protestants “holding the Head,” from Baptists, Congregationalists, Friends, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians of all the various branches, Reformed Dutch, &c. The assemblies have been composed of equally various materials.10


To prevent strife a policy of “No converted points discussed.” By allowing the Holy Spirit to move Christian charity, brotherly love prevailed, and the people were lifted above previous denominational differences.


Daily new people felt comfortable coming and praying.


The Fall of 1857


Lanphier said so wisely-

The same sun softens wax and hardens clay.17


No one could have known a financial panic that started in the second week of October. The Lord had time for everything perfectly and made spiritual provisions for the people. The fall months were slow but steady as the Revival continued to gain momentum. Within six months, 10,000 businessmen were gathering daily in New Yor for prayer. Within two years, over two million converts were added to the Church.


What made this Revival unique was the lack of a revivalist or leader. People came lifted from the gloom of the hour and found something of value.


In 1858, New York had a population of around 800,000 people, and what started on Fulton Street would rapidly spread. In January, New Jersey began to experience the Revival. By February, it had spread even further, and even the press began to talk about it. This powerful Revival in New York didn’t come with great manifestations but simply called people to pray. More and more churches began opening their doors to noon-day prayer as people became more aware of their need for God once again. By May 1858, over 50,000 converts came to the Lord in New York.


In February, the Methodist Church saw revivals all over the country. Also, in February, Pittsburg saw the rainfall with thousands weekly coming to the Lord.


In March, the Baptists recorded almost 20,000 converts within three weeks. In New England, church attendance was up, and almost a quarter of the population attended regularly, and half the people occassionaly.7 Boston had already seen noon prayer meetings before the Revival broke out, but after the Revival, they saw businessmen noon prayer meetings start. By March, the Revival was in full swing in Boston.


In New England, it was recorded “that there are several New England towns in which not a single adult person can be found unconverted.”8 The Revival was much stronger in rural areas than the metropolitan areas.


In Providence, they saw nearly every church awakened and they saw a Revival like never before in its history. The Revival swept Vermont and New Hampshire with daily prayer meetings breaking out.


Universities also saw the Revival. Yale declared that it was impossible to estimate the total number of conversions. Amherst reported that almost all of its students were converted.


Chicago was initially slow to receive the Revival. 1857 had proven a difficult year for the city and brought with it a depression. But by the end of March 1858, it saw a revival unlike anything in its short history.


The Newspapers


The Age in Melbourne spoke of the Revival (The Age Melbourne, Victoria,

Australia, 10 June 1858, Thu).

It said “The American papers, secular and religious, continue to report the progress of the religious Revival which is said to be the greater in extent than any since the time of Jonathan Edwards, more than a century ago… The Revival is spoken of in stages and cars, in  shops, offices, and counting rooms, and is reported and discussed in the daily newspapers. Notices of prayer meetings are posted upon the corners of the streets. All classes feel the power of this religious movement…. It was embalming the love of Christ in every Christian heart.”


The Vermont Chronicle (Bellows Falls, Vermont) 08 June, 1858 Tue.


“Since the commencement of this year, the Revival has been like one genial, refreshing, long-continued shower; making the ground all around us mellow and fruitful’ ‘It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Some of the most interesting incidents of the Revival have occurred very recently, and it is obvious that God is still working in this place… We longed for the manifestation of God’s grace; we longed to see more movement. A few mercy drops had already fallen; but we waited for the fountains to be broken up, and the rains descend in abundant showers. The appointed day came. It was Monday of the present year, Jan 4th, 1858… This was ‘an high day’ for this church, when we came up under the hand of the Lord out of Egypt of spiritual darkness, into the promised land of Revival.”


Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) 10 Mar. 1858, Wed


“It is already known to our reader that a general revival of religion, of unusual interest and power, has been in progress for some time past and still continues, extending over almost the whole country, and particualry in the East and West… The first manifestation of the present general Awakening was in New England, particularly in Connecticut and Massachusetts, from which the spirit of the Revival spread rapidly through the Middle and Western States, or rather broke out almost simultaneously in all. Everywhere the number of conversions and of additions to the churches has been unprecedented.”


The Waukegan Weekly Gazette (Waukegan IL) 27 Mar 1858, Sat


“The great religious Awakening, which is being manifested throughout the length and breadth of the land, seems to be extending and increasing in power. It reaches alike all classes of society, the high and the low, and has unquestionably wrought some wonderful transformations of character…”


At the same time, articles arose regarding true and false revivals, and many criticized the Revival. But the reality was everyone heard of the Revival, and the impact of lives changed was clearly seen.



Voices in the Revival


During the Revival, God raised some great voices who gave the new converts a better understanding of the Word. In New York, not alone were churches filled but police stations and fire departments opened their doors to prayer meetings. At the Burton Theater in the center of New York’s commercial activity Henry Ward Beecher, Theodore L. Cuyler, Robert M. Hatfield was among several key ministers who preached.


Chicago, which was a city of around 100,000 people, was extremely wicked. It would become the home of a man called D. L Moody. He was converted just before the Revival, and in 1858, he began preaching from a stranded log by Lake Michigan. The rest of his story is history.



A Split Country


Before the Revival broke out, America was already becoming divided, especially on the issue of slavery. Charles Finney wrote


“Slavery seemed to shut it out from the South. The people there were in such a state of irritation, of vexation, and of committal to their peculiar institutions, which had come to be assailed on every side, that the Spirit of God seemed to be grieved away from them. There seemed to be no place found for Him in the hearts of Southern people at that time.”11


The historian Beardsley added-


One section of the country alone was not powerfully affected by this Revival. Slavery seemed to rest like a great pall upon the Southern States and apparently prevented this divine visitation from extending thither to any remarkable degree. The contentions about the “peculiar institution” were so numerous, and the public mind seemed to be so occupied with questions relating thereto that the operations of the Holy Spirit were shut out and no great results were realized.   If the South did not profit to any great extent in this movement, its influence was felt abroad.12



However, Orr 13 shares proof the Revival did indeed reach the southern states, a fact bore out by the newspapers.


The Great Awakening


This Awakening would be unique. It was a lay revival, and although many great voices spoke during the Revival, they could claim no credit for the Revival. The Revival was birthed by a layman and progressed by the energies of laypeople. Man had thought they could be secure through industry and enterprise, but the shakings of the mid-nineteenth century revealed how vulnerable they were. Men understood they needed the Lord, and it had to be a real encounter in the secret places of their hearts. Each person as an individual would have to personally pursue the Lord and come to know Him. The Lord restored prayer and how through it we could draw nigh to Him and see His will brought forth in our lives.


The Awakening in America (the Third Great Awakening) did not see great manifestations so often associated with revivals, but rather it was a simple call to return and know Him. But like all revivals, it was a divine assault on society that transformed people from the heart outward and then changed society.


By April of 1858, the Revival had broken out in Kentucky and Orr records that…


“had been such and improvement in the city’s morals, and such were the reports from the rest of Kentucky and other States, that it was thought by the press that the millennium had arrived at last. 13


It was also recorded that


“The Spirit of God seems to be brooding over our city and to have produced an unusual degree of tenderness and solemnity in all classes. Never since our residence in the city have we seen so fair a prospect for a general and thorough work of grace as is now indicated.”14



The Awakening truly changed America and spread throughout the world. Estimates of the numbers of converts are around one million at a time when the population of America was just 30 million. In this Awakening, the Lord addressed key issues such as women’s rights, children’s rights, and His hatred of slavery. His Church was to reflect Him on the earth, and His Church had to maintain an intimate fellowship with Him in the Secret Place through prayer.


Many great ministers and ministries were birthed out of the Awakening, and a fresh burden for souls and missions arose.


However, Revivals are a demonstration of God’s great mercy and often are followed by judgment when men fail to heed the warning of Heaven. The enemy always comes to steal the seed and blessing of the Revival. Following this Awakening, America ended up in Civial War over the issue of slavery. .





4 Orr page 16


3Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.


2Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.


1.Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.  

6Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.


5Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.

  1. Orr page 21
  2. Washington National Intelligencer, 23 March 1858


9Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.


10 Chambers, T. W.. The Noon Prayer Meeting: It’s origin, character and progress, with some of its results. (Evangelical Revival Book 101) . Revival Library. Kindle Edition.

 11Finney, Charles G. Memoirs. Page 444

12 Beardsley, Frank G.. A History of American Revivals (Kindle Locations 2057-2061). Kindle Edition.

13 Orr page 28

14 Orr page 30

15 Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier. Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for Closet Reading . N. Tibbals. Kindle Edition.

16 Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier. Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for Closet Reading . N. Tibbals. Kindle Edition.

17 Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier. Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for Closet Reading . N. Tibbals. Kindle Edition.

18 Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier. Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for Closet Reading . N. Tibbals. Kindle Edition.