Just one hundred years ago, God awakened America coast to coast with the most phenomenal spiritual revival of her history. Everything about that movement seemed unusual: the time and place of its beginning, the pattern of development, the leadership, the methods, and the results.
For one thing, its origin was striking. Who would have imagined that a sweeping revival might get its start and shape from a little noonday prayer meeting? And the place was unusual: in the downtown bustle of New York’s business world, on Fulton Street. There was its founder, Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier, an unknown business man who had come untrained to his new task as lay-missionary for the old North Dutch Reformed Church, and who later went unheralded for the meeting which he had begun. Most unusual was the fact that this simple prayer meeting was to become the pattern for later meetings for the great revival to follow.
Much like today, the main characteristic of the times was amazing material prosperity combined with great expansion and turbulent political scenes involving ever new disturbances and agitations. This was “the golden age of our history” (Bacon). Entire cities and even states were springing up. Between 1845 and 1860 seven new states and four organized territories were admitted to the Union. Frontiers were pushing westward. Gold had been discovered in California. Railroads, telegraph and steamship lines were multiplying. Harvests were plenteous, and trade was prospering. Much new land was being acquired through the conquest of the Mexican War, and people were money-conscious, even money-mad. The boom was on.
But, with the increase of all this gain, there was a decrease of godliness, and zeal for religion was becoming ...1
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