Dec/08/09 05:54 PM Filed in: People
Invitation to Prayer
While in New York City on a sightseeing trip in the fall of 2009, I found a park bench to rest. Sitting next to me was a person who introduced himself as Jeremiah Lanphier. As we sat there on the bench Jeremiah told me his story. He had been a single 48 year old businessman in the Manhattan financial district selling clothing when he got the call to be a lay missionary in the North Dutch Church. Knowing only God could change lives; he decided to hold a Wednesday noontime prayer meeting and passed out 20,000 flyers advertising the first meeting to be held on September 23, 1857.
For the first thirty minutes of the scheduled prayer meeting Jeremiah said he sat alone praying. Eventually, steps were heard coming up the church staircase and another joined. Then another and another until he was joined by five men. The next Wednesday the six increased to twenty. It was then that Jeremiah decided to hold a prayer meeting every noon hour. Within weeks thousands of business and lay people throughout the city were meeting for prayer. Similar prayer meetings sprang up around the nation and at one point nearly one million people across the U.S. were converted to Christ. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 interrupted the prayer meetings, but the revival continued among the troops on both sides of the conflict.
We were unable to finish our conversation and I did not learn what became of Jeremiah is his later life. I did find out that in 2007 a group of patrons commissioned a sculptor to create a life-size likeness of Jeremiah Lanphier to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his great prayer movement. The sculpture I was sitting with wonderfully captures the spirit of this faithful man of God. (see photo above)