One of the true stories that you will not read about in any history text book is that of the great spiritual revival that swept through both the northern and southern armies during the Civil War. In 1857, a man by the name of Jeremiah C. Lanphier got together with several business men on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan. These men met together for prayer from noon to one o’clock each day and called it the “Union Prayer Meeting.”
It had been some time since the “Great Awakening” of 1735, followed by the Revival of 1800, and America was in need of a turning back to God. We were fortunate to find several of the little books that this “Union,” or as it became known as the “Fulton Street Prayer Meeting,” distributed to soldiers at the start of the Civil War.
(Two of these books)
What began as just a few business men praying together grew to 10,000 within 6 months. By January of 1858, there were at least 20 other prayer meetings being held throughout New York City. Newspapers from around the country were sending reporters to cover the progress of this revival.
The Revival spread south to Philadelphia and north to Boston. In Boston, the Lord rose up Evangelist Charles G. Finney, and there were 5,000 who placed their trust in Christ by the end of March. From the East Coast it was not long until revivals were breaking out in Albany, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago. In Chicago, 2,000 showed up for prayer in the Metropolitan Theater. Everywhere that the Revival spread, there was no hysteria, no unusual disturbances… just people praying and trusting Christ as Savior.
The Revival kept spreading and in 1859 and 1860, it is estimated that 50,000 individuals were turning their lives over to Christ each week. The Methodist church received 135,000 new members in 1858 and the Baptists gained 92,000. While the Civil War definitely disrupted life in America, it provided a perfect opportunity to soldiers both north and south to turn toward God on the eve of battle. It is maintained that 150,000 Confederate soldiers were converted by the end of the war, and that 1/3 of the officers and soldiers in the Confederate army, at any given time, were professing Christians. Many of the several thousand soldier letters in our inventory talk about this great revival. A common reference is a statement like this: “For as far as you can see there are campfires with men praying around them.”
The Revival started in 1857 and extended through the Civil War. Unfortunately this was our last great national revival. The Lord blessed our country with this revival so that we as a nation could get through the greatest crisis that our nation ever faced… brother fighting against brother.
Collecting Civil War artifacts, letters and relics is fun and a great hobby. A hobby, however, cannot be our chief goal or purpose in life! I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “He who dies with the most toys, wins!” As a collector, it is easy to think that he who dies with the biggest or most complete collection wins. God’s Word teaches us that we can enjoy a greater purpose in life. Just like those who came to Christ in the simple act of prayer during the 1857 Revival, we too can know God’s purpose for our lives. We feel that in the troubled times in which we are living, not knowing what is going to happen in the Middle East, terrorism, economic crisis, etc., God is influencing men and women to turn back to Him in prayer and find life’s true purpose: preparation for eternity. That is what matters most. Below are three excellent sites that we highly recommend for learning more about finding your life’s purpose and discovering what we believe “Real Treasure” truly is…
Steven is pastor of a mega church south of Charlotte, N.C. (His services can be watched on the Internet or on the Trinity Broadcasting Television Network). Steven has a wonderful ministry including free prayer and counseling for a new walk in Christ. You can also find messages by David Jeremiah each Sunday morning on your TV or watch from his website. Rick Warren has written the largest selling book next to the Bible entitled, “The Purpose Driven Life”. It has just come out in an “updated version”. It is a great read. We highly recommend you checking any of these great resources out!