Summary: The events of September 11th highlight the need for revival in America. This message is calling the body of Christ to cry out for spiritual renewal for our nation!
If my people, who are called on my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.—2 Chronicles 7:14 New International Version
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”
—Ezekiel 22:30 New International Version
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – James 5:16 New International Version
It was an ordinary Tuesday morning. People in New York City packed onto the freeways and subways to start another workday. It was just another day to punch the clock and play the market in the financial hub of Lower Manhattan. That morning a variety of people—secretaries, financial consultants, business executives, and other workers bustled into the elevators of the World Trade Center.
As they settled at their desks or in their office break rooms, they listened to office gossip or made some early business calls. It was around 8:45 a.m., however, that terror suddenly struck. Thus began a nightmare of events that would end up collapsing both towers of the World Trade Center, destroying a section of the Pentagon and four passenger planes.
For most of us when we heard of these events, it was all surreal—like something out of a movie. Later, however, reality began to settle in as we began to hear about some of the casualties. We experienced most of the stages of grief that day: denial, sadness, depression, and anger. We watched last week on television as normally stoic anchormen broke down in tears. Even our President cried. We sat in our living rooms trapped by the televised images of rubble, smoke, and debris. It was a day of multiple atrocities involving the hijacking of four planes and the killing of thousands of lives, and we could scarcely take it all in. Many of us felt so small and helpless.
Through it all, however, we saw great examples of courage, especially from the members of the New York fire and police departments. We watched as people of different races and denominations united in churches and public squares to sing patriotic songs and pray for our nation.
Like so many ministers I have been seeking God for a message to share during this tragic time. I too have been dealing with my own heartache and since of shock over this. What I keep coming back to is my own helplessness. What I keep seeing is that there is no quick four step formula to healing from this tragedy; however, what I keep hearing from God and many others is that this is a trumpet call to prayer.
When I look at history I think of another time when America faced a crisis. America was facing a great depression and many were in despair. The year was 1857.Our nation at that time was at both an economic and spiritual low. Attendance in churches had dwindled and there was a cynicism among many concerning religion.
It was in the midst of this spiritual crisis that God gave a man a vision. His name was Jeremiah Lanphier. Lanphier had a vision of starting a noontime prayer meeting at a mission in Fulton Street in New York City.
He went to great lengths to advertise this prayer meeting. His first meeting was held on September 23, 1857. When the doors opened at noon, no one seemed to come. At half past twelve, however, the steps of one man could be heard coming up the stairs. Soon another came and then another so that finally there was a total of six people there.
Soon the numbers of those attending the meetings increased. By October 14th over a hundred people were coming to the prayer meetings. Other buildings were needed to accommodate the large numbers of people coming. Churches began to open their doors, but they were not large enough as thousands began to come to these prayer meetings. By March of 1858, Burton’s Theatre which could hold up to 3,000 people was filled to overflowing. Soon firehouses, police stations, and other buildings were requested to house the prayer meetings that had spread like a wildfire in New York City.
But the prayer meetings did not stop in New York City. They spread throughout New York State, New England, and eventually across the entire nation. Many thousands were saved during the revival of 1858. It is interesting that this revival took place three years before the Civil War—the bloodiest war in American history. God in His sovereignty knew that thousands of American lives would be lost and that these people needed to come to a saving knowledge of Himself.