The 7:14 Prayer Initiative
By James Bradford
Dec. 16, 2012
"Whenever God is about to do something new with His people, He always sets them to praying.” ?— Dr. J. Edwin Orr
The Third Great Awakening in America is often referred to as the “Prayer Meeting Revival.” This remarkable movement was sparked in the heart of a quiet but passionate businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier. He had accepted appointment as a “city missionary” to a struggling church in downtown New York City. Burdened by the spiritually dark and needy condition of the city, Lanphier called a midweek noon-hour prayer meeting that working people could attend.
The first prayer meeting was announced for Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1857. Lanphier opened the doors and waited. No one showed up for the first half hour. Then one, followed by another, finally arrived. By 1 p.m., five people had joined Lanphier to pray. The next Wednesday, 20 people came, with 40 the week after that.
Then crisis hit. The financial markets crashed, banks failed, and people panicked, paving the way for revival.
According to Charles Spurgeon, “The prayer meeting grew to a hundred, then others began to start prayer meetings; at last there was scarcely a street in New York that was without a prayer meeting. Merchants found time to run in, in the middle of the day, to pray. The prayer meetings became daily ones, lasting for about an hour.”
Newspapers began to take note and report on their front pages that over 6,000 people were attending daily prayer meetings in New York City. Soon this Prayer Meeting Revival began to spread to cities like Boston; Chicago; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Newark, N.J. Businesses would put signs on their doors: “Will reopen at the close of prayer meeting.”
By May 1858, prayer meetings were taking place at 6:30 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. in Washington, D.C., with thousands attending.
People by the thousands also were being saved. One newspaper reported: “There are several New England towns in which not a single adult person can be found unconverted.” Louisville, Ky., was described in this way: “The Spirit of God seems to be brooding over our city and to have produced an unusual degree of tenderness and solemnity in all classes.” Yale University was so visited by God that “it was impossible to estimate the number of conversions,” and at Amherst College virtually every student was converted.
Within two years of that first prayer meeting in New York City, at which no one showed up for the first half hour, 1 million people were converted (at a time when the total U.S. population was only 30 million) and another million church members were revived. The Prayer Meeting Revival transformed society and is today remembered as the “Second Great Awakening” in America.
Four decades later, at the turn of the 20th century, God poured out His Spirit on a group of students in Topeka, Kan. They were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. That remarkable event gave place to the great Pentecostal revival that is still growing more than a century later with profound impact globally.
But what about North America? Could it be that God would send yet one more Jesus-centered spiritual awakening to America before Christ comes again?
The prescription for such renewal has not changed. In ?2 Chronicles 7:14 God assured Israel, “If my people, who are called by 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” (NIV).
Once again the Spirit of God is calling Christ’s living Church to humility, hunger for God (“pray and seek my face”), and holiness (“turn from their wicked ways”). This call to humility, hunger and holiness has always been at the heart of God as He prepares to do a new work.
We are hearing this call afresh in our Assemblies of God Fellowship — a 7:14 Call to Prayer. The urgency behind this initiative is born out of a prophetic sense that God is preparing our churches and our nation for renewal and spiritual awakening.
How can we all participate in this call to prayer?
Every day, take a moment at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m. to pray for spiritual awakening in all of its dimensions. A 7:14 Prayer app is being developed by the General Council to assist with this initiative.
Every week, join with Assemblies of God general presbyters in a commitment they have recently made to fast and pray over the noon hour every Friday (or whenever in the week you can do it).
Here are some suggested prayer guidelines:
“If my people … will humble themselves.”
Repent of spiritual coldness, indifference, prayerlessness, and disobedience in our lives and churches.
Seek for authentic humility and dependence on God to mark our way forward.
“If my people … will pray.”
Pray for God’s hand of guidance to be on our leaders at the national, state and local levels.
Seek God for a powerful spiritual awakening in our nation that could bring millions into the kingdom of God.
“If my people … will seek my face.”
Hunger for God to pour out His Spirit in our churches with miraculous power and evangelistic effectiveness.
Ask God to do whatever it takes to turn people back to Him and encounter Jesus in our nation.
“If my people … will turn from their wicked ways.”
Repent of unholy affections and ungodly behavior in our personal lives and our churches.
Seek God to turn back the sins of immorality, pornography, abortion, materialism, prejudice and injustice in our nation.
This call to prayer gives valuable opportunity to fast and pray during the week. When you attend midweek and weekend services, intercede with your church family around these themes.
As we live out the truths of ?2 Chronicles 7:14, may the Lord, indeed, hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land!
JAMES BRADFORD is general secretary of the Assemblies of God.
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