The answer to America’s problems is a spiritual one. We need to pray for our country like never before. And we need to reach out to a lost world with the gospel like never before. We need more people hearing about who Jesus is and what He promises. We need to get back to the true God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to be born in the manger, to die on the cross and to rise from the dead three days later. We need a spiritual awakening.
Charles Finney, who was part of one of America’s great revivals, said, “Revival is nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to God.” A.W. Tozer defined revival as “that which changes the moral climate of a community.”
That is the kind of revival we need. Not just an emotional experience and not just a tingle down the backbone. We need to see God work, because our nation needs it like never before.
The last great American revival was the Layman’s Prayer Revival of 1857–1858. It began with a 48-year-old businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier. He began a noon prayer meeting on Fulton Street in downtown New York. Jeremiah handed out flyers to downtown businessmen, saying, “Come to our prayer meeting when you are having a break for lunch.”
Only a handful of people showed up. But Jeremiah persisted; and that handful of people kept meeting for prayer. Then something dramatic took place. The stock market crashed. Suddenly, the prayer meeting grew. People fell to their knees, and then the prayer meeting exploded. Prayer meetings were popping up quickly throughout New York City. Within six months, 10,000 people were gathering for prayer in New York City alone. They were renting venues that Broadway normally used and packing them out at lunch time with men and women who were calling on the name of the Lord.
Fifty-thousand New Yorkers reportedly came to know the Lord from March to May. During that single year, the number of reported conversions throughout the country reached an average of 50,000 a week for about two years. Even a notorious criminal nicknamed “Awful” Gardner shocked everyone when he came to Christ through the prayer meetings. When it was all over, one million people had come to faith.
No one orchestrated that revival in New York. It wasn’t a campaign planned by people. It was a work of God where He poured out His Spirit.
Revival is a work of the Holy Spirit; it’s not something we can make happen. Revival is God’s responsibility. It’s what God does for us. But listen to this: Evangelism is what we do for God. Preaching the gospel is our responsibility. Christ commissioned us to go into the world and spread the Good News.
We cannot make a revival happen, but we can make evangelism happen. We can start those conversations. We can share the love of Christ. We can invite friends to participate in Harvest America. So let’s pray for God to do a great work of revival in our country, but let’s do our part. The root of the problem is that people are separated from God. And the way to change a culture is to invade it. It is to go out where people don’t typically hear the gospel, enter their world, and tell them about Jesus Christ.