In today’s culture we are all distracted and the idea of God moving in miraculous has been subtracted from reality and places only within the history of the Bible. But is the activity of God absent in today’s culture?
In the book, Rumors of God, Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson show just one simple but powerful example of how God has moved in the United States.
In 1857 churches all over New York City were noticing a sharp decline in church membership. One Dutch Reform church that met on Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan saw a surprising drop in attendance. So a meeting was called with church leaders to discuss the recent trend. A lay leader named Jeremiah Lanphier, a local business man, was commissioned to start a prayer meeting during his lunch hour. Lanphier began promoting his noonday prayer meeting to surrounding businesses. He prepared a printed handout that read:
A day of Prayer-Meeting is held every Wednesday from 12 to 1 o’clock in the Consistory building in the rear of the North Dutch Church, corner of Fulton and William Streets. This meeting is intended to give merchants, mechanics, clerks, strangers, businessmen generally an opportunity to stop and call on God amid the perplexities incident to their respective avocations. It will continue for one hour.
On Wednesday, September 21, 1857, he showed up to pray at noon. He prayed alone for the first thirty minutes and then another businessman joined him. By 1:00p.m. six men were quietly praying. The following Wednesday, twenty people gathered, the next week almost forty people came to pray at noon. After several weeks the prayer gatherings changed from weekly to daily, then they out grew the building on Fulton Street.
Inspired by Lanphier’s simple vision, the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn also began daily prayer meetings at noon. Within months noonday prayer meetings sprang up in Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, and Episcopal churches all over the city. Thousands of people started to gather in churches at noon to pray. Many factories began blowing their lunch whistle at 11:55 a.m. to give their employees time to make it to a church by noon to pray.
One day at a few minutes before twelve, a senior editor of a newspaper was looking out his window and was shocked to see people running from their places of business, bumping into one another, yet within minutes they had all disappeared into churches. He sent a reported down to investigate, who returned with the astonishing report: “They’re all praying!”
By 1858 the New York Herald and New York Tribune were both running regular columns on the “Noonday Prayer Meeting.” It was reported that as many as forty thousand people were praying across the city. The New York Times called it “the most remarkable movement since the Reformation.”
The noonday prayer movement began to spread across America—in Denver, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Chicago, noonday prayer meetings began to emerge. Most church historians agree that by 1859 more than one million unchurched Americans had become Christians. At that point the population was only thirty million people. With the current population now ten times that figure, it would be the equivalent of more than ten million people becoming followers of Jesus today.
The United States has a history of the unmistakable activity of God. Does God still move like this today?
So from this story, do you think that God really moves like this today? Is it even possible? We have a few copies of Rumors of God and want to hear what you think! On Monday, October 24th, we’ll randomly choose 5 people who comment to win a copy of Rumors of God.
Here’s how you can engage for a chance to win:
1. In the comments below, let us know your thoughts about how you have been seeing God move.
2. Post a link to this blog post on twitter or facebook.
By: Rena Kosiek (@renakosiek)
Marketing Coordinator, The Global Leadership Summit