If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it (Jeremiah 18:8).
Jonathan Edwards famous message, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ preached on July 8, 1741, was a call to the church to repent, an appeal for sensitivity to the holiness of God. It appeared as a classic in high school and college literature textbooks for the next two centuries.
At the same time, in 1739, George Whitefield, in Philadelphia, was preaching to huge crowds – 8,000 from the Courthouse balcony. In Boston, his final message drew 23,000 more than the population of the entire city, and 22 preachers were converted. An estimated 80% of colonialists heard him preach. He was better known than any of the founders. Without the ministry of Whitefield and Wesley, there would be no United States of America. The nation was born out of a national prayer revival.
Though differences existed on issues of church government, membership, forms of worship, communion, all American Christians could unite around their faith in Jesus, the Christ. In New England, out of a population of 300,000, churches grew by 50,000 new members. The year after the awakening peaked, 1742, 150 new churches were started. Especially enthusiastic were the young people. The moral climate changed. Some say the face of Boston was transformed. In Philadelphia, Ben Franklin noted in his Autobiography,
It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless and indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.
Calls were made for equal standing for all denominations, for unity and brotherhood. More than 60 ministerial training colleges sprang up. From the low-lands of Georgia and South Carolina, to Boston and Philadelphia, a baptism of God with the gospel had been visited on the colonies. America had prayed – together! In every little town and hamlet, there were fresh converts and a new enthusiasm for faith in Christ. The denomination connections seemed to fade away. People saw the supremacy of Christ over the differences. Churches cooperated. A spirit of brotherhood was universal. God had come – and without that gospel-glue, it is doubtful there would have been an America. No Awakening: No America; and No Prayer: No Awakening!
Lord, we have tried programs and policy change in vain. Without you, we will cease to be a godly nation. Save us as you did before. Help us to fulfill our destiny as a nation.
I hope you will join me in the new year as we embark on a 22 Day Virtual Prayer Meeting – January 10-31, 2016. It is a nightly phone call with special guests who will offer a prayer challenge and a national prayer leader will lead a segment of prayer. Learn more at americapray.net>