What would happen?

We must confess we personally know very little of this reality.

What happens when we, the people of God, begin to see prayers answered?

And not just answered in general, but answered to such a degree that we, without doubt, would see that if we were simply to ask for such and such thing, that thing would be granted to us?

We must confess we personally know very little of this reality.

We know of what it means to ask, but little of what it means to tarry.

We know of what it means to agree to a statement of belief, but little of diligent, unrelenting, enduring obedience in putting this belief into practice.

Certainly, we’ve known comfort in throwing up our requests to a God who faithfully hears, but known little of persistent petitions to a God who will not only hear, but also answer and “show us great and mighty things which we have not known.”

Our understanding on this matter has grown so darkened that we scarce can see there is more light to be granted, if only we were to ask.

Imagine the movie house. We enter knowing of daylight, but the longer we sit, the more the lights gradually dim, until the room grows completely dark except for the glow of the screen.

How quickly we adjust, and how easily the presence of entertainment helps us to accommodate the absence of true light.

Do we still know of daylight? The blinding reality of a sun so bright that we cannot even look directly upon it without harm?

And if we know of daylight still, perhaps as a distant memory of a time past lingering just there at the edge of our subconscious, do we long to see it again? Is it a memory cherished or a memory just as easily forgotten?

I ask again then, what happens when we, the people of God, begin to see prayers answered?

And not just answered in general, but answered to such a degree that we, without doubt, would see that if we were simply to ask for such and such thing, that thing would be granted to us?

Thankfully we can answer this question today in great detail, for we know of actual people in a specific time who experienced this reality. Their first-hand accounts were recorded by a man, Samuel Prime, and published shortly thereafter in his book, “The Power of Prayer: The New York Revival of 1858.”

Many speak of this revival to draw attention to the vast magnitude of its reach in such a short period of time. Anywhere from 500,000 to 2,000,000 Americans were born again with another 4,000,000 church members revived in their love and devotion for Christ. Considering the population of America to be around 31 million in total at the time, it could reasonably be said then that this revival impacted as many as 1 in 5 Americans.

The vastness is an amazing quality of this revival, especially when one considers the lack of planning, central organization, and the fact that most of these prayer meetings were led by laypeople not pastors.

This aspect of “non-professional” leadership was such a mark of the meetings, that some even refer to the revival as “The Layman’s Prayer Revival.”

An excerpt from Charles Finney’s memoirs does well to paint the truly revived state of the country, “I recollect in one of our prayer meetings in Boston that winter a gentleman arose and said, ‘I am from Omaha the capital of Nebraska. On my journey east I have found a continuous prayer meeting all the way. We call it about two thousand miles from Omaha to Boston; and here was a prayer meeting about two thousand miles in extent.’" (Rosell 563)

A prayer meeting in nearly every town from Omaha to Boston, compared to our current reality. Can you not now see how this is like daylight in a dark room?

Stopping here would give us plenty to reflect on, yet I press on, and point us back to our original question: What happens when we, the people of God, begin to see prayers answered?

Set aside everything else for a moment and read these three short paragraphs from Samuel Prime with as much focus as you can muster.

“It began to be felt that Christians obtained answers to prayer; that if they united to pray for any particular man’s conversion, that man was sure to be converted.

What made them sure? What made them say that ‘they thought this man and that man would soon become Christians?’ Because they had become the subjects of prayer.

And men prayed in the prayer-meeting, as if they expected God would hear and answer prayer.”

Men and women prayed as if they expected God would hear and answer prayer.

Again from Finney’s Memoirs, “There was such a general confidence in the prevalence of prayer, that the people very extensively seemed to prefer meetings for prayer to meetings for preaching. The general impression seemed to be ‘we have had instruction until we are hardened; it is time for us to pray.”

Prime continues, “It is a solemn as well as a blessed privilege to pray; that God is willing to give his Spirit to them who ask him; and that believing prayer is sure to be answered.”

What would happen if we, the people of God, gathered together, even in small groups, from Omaha to Boston, Seattle to Washington D.C., Anaheim to Miami, and prayed with believing prayer?

When we pray, God responds.

When we pray, He not only hears, but He answers.

When we pray, things change, something happens.

What would happen if we knew that again?

In love,

Derek