A Heterogeneous Crowd

Genesis 26:18-19 “And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.  And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.”

Acts 2:5 “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Talbot Chambers, one of the pastors of the church that hosted Lanphier’s prayer meetings, described the 1857 movement as “redigging the wells of revival.”  It was all about reconnecting with our faith-filled past in order to properly connect with our faith-fueled future.

Chambers also described these meetings as uniquely powerful because of the perfect combination of demographics and geography.  New York City in 1857 brought the world to one place at one time in a way that enabled outreach to flourish.  Chambers described it this way: “Instead of the staid, settled families of fixed principles and ordinary habits who once filled the churches there to their utmost capacity, there was now a mixed multitude which might well be compared to the heterogeneous crowd which thronged the streets of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.”  Lanphier’s meetings, therefore, reached a broad audience that was seeking truth, purpose, and meaning, thus magnifying the opportunities for impact for the cause of Christ.

In America in 2021, we don’t live in a staid, settled world of fixed principles and ordinary habits that fill our churches to their utmost capacity.  Instead, we are surrounded by a vibrant, mixed multitude that provides us our own heterogeneous crowd.  Our communities reflect many of the characteristics of first century Jerusalem and nineteenth century New York City.  As a result, God may have provided today’s American Christian a perfect combination of demographics and geography that can enable our outreach to flourish.  Our faithfulness has an unmatched opportunity to reach a broad audience seeking truth, purpose, and meaning that can magnify our impact for the cause of Christ.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO RECONNECT WITH OUR FAITH-FILLED PAST IN ORDER TO PROPERLY CONNECT WITH A FAITH-FUELED FUTURE.  May we redig the wells of revival by faithfully reaching out to the heterogeneous crowd that swirls around us and provides an unmatched opportunity to reach a broad audience for the cause of Christ.

ADMIN:  The Talbot Chambers quotes come from his book “The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting: A Simple Gathering That Changed The World”.

Bringing It to Pass

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

God had miraculously set and nurtured the conditions for revival in Lower Manhattan in 1857, even when the conditions seemed bleak.  To begin with, Jeremiah Lanphier was called into his ministry because of the demographic change in the area that brought in immigrant families who were short on Biblical knowledge and who needed a source of Christ-centered truth.  Then, shortly after the beginning of the prayer meetings, the economy faced a sharp downturn known as The Panic of 1857, a financial crisis that began in New York City and quickly spread throughout the country.  Banks and businesses closed, and people faced severe unemployment.  While the conditions in those days seemed dire, these unique challenges created an urgent neediness for the truths of God, the prayers of the people, and the hope of the gospel.  The economic downturn even gave people time to regularly attend the prayer meetings when a prosperous time would have otherwise deprived them of an opportunity to do so.  God had orchestrated things perfectly for revival in their day, working all things together for good in accordance with His purposes.

In our lives, and in our times, conditions sometimes seem bleak.  Changes in our communities may unsettle some, and economic and health challenges in our land may concern and even impact others.  While the conditions in our day may seem dire, these unique challenges may have created an urgent neediness for the truths of God, the prayers of the people, and the hope of the gospel.  We may even have the time to pray when normal times would otherwise deprive us of an opportunity to do so.  God may have orchestrated things perfectly for this day, working all things together for good in accordance with His purposes.


A Living God, Not gods of Stone

Mark 9:24 “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Matthew 6:5-7 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that the may be seen of men.  Verily, I say unto you.  They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Jeremiah Lanphier’s first handbills to invite the community to the lunchtime prayer meetings in lower Manhattan also contained the following powerful reminder about the spiritual importance of heart-felt, fervent prayer: 

I often say my prayers –
But do I ever pray?
Or do the wishes of my heart
Suggest the words I say?

It is useless to implore,
Unless I feel my need,
Unless it is from a sense of want
That all my prayers proceed.

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will he ever those regard
Whose prayers are insincere.

Lord! Teach me what I want,
And teach me how to pray;
Nor let me e’er implore thy grace,
Not feeling what I say.

Potent prayer is not to be a passionless ritual.  Nor is it to be a public performance.  Instead, it is to be heartfelt.  It is to be fervent.  It is to be faith-filled.  It is to be buoyed by a life directed towards righteousness though mindful of personal shortcomings.  It is to be supported by heavenward calls for enhanced faithfulness and strengthened belief.  It is to be characterized by less mouth-produced-content and more heart-felt-conviction.  It is to be filled with feeling and full of fervency.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO PRAY FOR OUR NATION WITH PASSION AND CONVICTION.  May the characteristics of our prayer-life be ever-mindful that we pray to a living God and not to gods of stone.

For Only As We Pray We Live

Colossians 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jeremiah Lanphier held his first lunchtime prayer meeting on September 23, 1857.  Though it had humble beginnings, with only six people in attendance at that first meeting, it set a solid foundation for the miracles to follow.  In order to advertise the event, Lanphier distributed handbills throughout lower Manhattan that encouraged the residents and workers from that area to join him on the church’s third floor lecture hall at noon on that day.

The first part of those handbills contained the specifics about the planned meetings while reminding the reader that “In prayer we leave the business of time for that of eternity, and intercourse with man for intercourse with God.” (see https://prayatlunch.us/business-of-eternity/ for the entire text).  The handbills also included the following poem entitled “Benefits of Prayer”:

Prayer is appointed to convey
The blessings God designs to give:
Long as they live should Christians pray,
For only while they pray they live.

If pain afflict, or wrongs oppress;
If cares distract, or fears dismay;
If guilt deject; if sin distress –
In every case still watch and pray.

Tis prayer supports the soul that’s weak;
Tho’ thought be broken, language lame,
Pray if thou canst or canst not speak;
But pray with faith in Jesus’ name.

Depend on Him, thou canst not fail;
Make all thy wants and wishes known;
Fear not, His merits must prevail;
Ask but in faith – it shall be done.

These powerful thoughts on the potency of prayer spurred one of the most powerful revivals in American history.  In modern day America, may we similarly recognize the potency of prayer.  After all, as long as we live, we must pray; for only while we pray, we live.

AS AMERICAN CHRISTIANS, PLEASE PRAY PASSIONATELY FOR OUR NATION AND FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST IN OUR LAND.  Through regular fervent prayer, leave the business of time for that of eternity, and intercourse with man for intercourse with God.  For only while we pray, we live.

Sufficient for Thee

II Corinthians 12:9-10 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

Exodus 4:10-12 “And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto they servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

The Prayer Meeting Revival of 1857 began humbly in September of that year, but quickly swept the nation with its impact.  It is just such a model centered around a call to prayer at lunchtime that was the genesis of the PLUS ministry (http://prayatlunch.us/testimony/).  The next several posts will focus on facets of this prayer meeting from yesteryear that still have important applicability today.

Jeremiah Lanphier was a Dutch businessman in New York City in the middle of the 1800s.  He had no theological or ministerial training, but was well-regarded in his business and church communities during a time of change in the demographics of his lower Manhattan neighborhood.  He felt led to serve Christ more fully with his life, and answered the call to be a lay missionary for the North Dutch Church.  On July 1, 1857, he shuttered his business and faithfully followed God’s calling on his life.

Lanphier had all the reasons in the world to ignore the Lord’s call as an untrained layman with skill and success in his business pursuits.  Yet, he faithfully surrendered to this calling on his life.  His strength was made perfect in weakness; he recognized that when he was weak, then he was strong.  The things that were gain to him, he counted as loss for Christ.  He yielded to the Lord, trusting the Lord’s promises that He would “be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”  The results were miraculous!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO FAITHFULLY FOLLOW THE LORD’S CALLING ON OUR LIVES TODAY.  God’s grace was sufficient for Lanphier, and it is more than sufficient for us today.

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