We defend religious liberty in the courts so that God’s people can lawfully spread the Gospel, pray, and freely worship Him. We are convinced that prayer is a critical act of worship that will cause the rebirth of our nation – spiritually, morally and even economically. This divine strategy was implemented for tremendous impact during the Great Awakening of 1857 to 1858, but that time has long been forgotten by most. Following a period of moral decline during the 1850s and during a period of serious economic collapse known as the “Bank Panic of 1857,” one courageous businessman invited other anxious businessmen in New York City to join him for prayer during the noon hour every Wednesday. In a few months’ time, the lunchtime prayer meeting became a daily meeting that grew to over 50,000 businessmen meeting across New York City. It quickly spread from coast to coast and affected everyone from judges to janitors. At times, schools—yes, public schools!—and businesses closed in order to pray and seek God. People from all walks of life could be seen humbly kneeling together and imploring God for grace.
The effects were immeasurable. It is estimated that at least one million Americans committed their lives to Christ within 18 months. Though the revival peaked in 1858, it did not stop there. Throughout the Civil War (1860–1865), camps had great revival meetings and over 150,000 men became Christians in the Confederate army alone.Close to a million people joined churches due to the awakening that swept that land. It added spiritual strength, gave new importance to the work of laymen in churches, and connected the Gospel with social action in a manner that had not been seen in the country before. Businessmen were awakened to the assertion that true religion was not merely a spiritual experience, but an active faith that should be evident in their business practices.
Though the Revival of 1857-1858 is barely remembered by secular historians today, it was probably the greatest spiritual rejuvenation ever experienced by the United States of America. It’s amazing to think that this great revival was started and fueled not by ministers, but by businessmen. Think of how our nation could progress if we had a similar type of prayer revival.
On Thursday, May 5, 2012, people across America participated in the National Day of Prayer. Although the tradition of prayer has been a part of our nation since our founding fathers formed our country almost two and a half centuries ago, something special occurred in 1857 that went far beyond an annual prayer meeting.
We need that “something special” to occur today! And I think I saw “something special” just the other day, when I noticed four high school girls standing at the flag pole in front of their school—gathered in prayer on an ordinary weekday. That same day, I had lunch with a group of business people planning to start new ministry called Tentmakers, a ministry to teach and encourage business people to use their businesses as a platform to share their faith. Maybe that “Great Awakening”—like call to prayer is beginning today in smaller pockets, and you are the ordinary American needed to stoke the fire!
Some may ask, “Is that legal?” The answer: Absolutely! Don’t be worried. Call us for help or advice. If you’re challenged, we will be there to defend your religious liberty.
Step out in faith, and start “something special.”