*A CALL TO DUTY*
*2 Chronicles 7:7-14*
*In 1857,* a bank failed in New York City because of widespread embezzlement. The country was on the brink of a banking crisis anyway, and that event triggered *an economic meltdown* that has become known as *the Panic of 1857.*
*New York City banks closed from mid-October to mid-December.* Foreign investors withdrew their money from U.S. banks. The stock market crashed and lost *66%* of its value over the next five years. *Railroads* went bankrupt. Grain prices collapsed *affecting farmers throughout the United States.* Speculative real estate investors lost everything. *The full effects lasted until after the Civil War ended eight years later.*
At the same time, the bitter dispute over *slavery* thrust our nation into the deadliest war we’ve ever experienced. *By the end of the Civil War in 1865, 620,000 Americans had died.* With a U.S. population of approximately *30,000,000 people,* one out of every 50 Americans died. Adjusted to today’s U.S. population of *307,000,000 people,* that would be the equivalent of 6,000,000 American deaths.
*The Great Revival of 1857*
About that same time, the North Dutch Church in New York City hired a lay city missionary named
*Jeremiah Lanphier* to build church attendance. He prayed, *“Lord, what would you have me do?”*
Concerned by the *anxious faces of businessmen on the streets of New York City,* Lanphier decided to open the Church *at noon* so that businessmen could pray. The first meeting was set for September 23 – *three weeks before the bank panic.* He distributed *a hand bill* which read in part, “A day Prayer Meeting is held every *Wednesday* from 12 to 1 o’clock in the Consistory building in the rear of the North Dutch Church, corner of Fulton and William Streets.”
This meeting was intended to give *merchants, mechanics, clerks, strangers and businessmen* generally an opportunity to stop and call on God amid the perplexities incident to their respective avocations.
It would continue for one hour; but was also designed for those who found it inconvenient to remain more than five or 10 minutes, as well as for those who can spare a whole hour. Necessary interruption would be slight, because anticipated. *Those in haste often expedited their business engagements by halting to lift their voices to the throne of grace in humble, hasteful prayer.*
From Lanphier’s own account of the first meeting, *only he himself showed up.* But then at 12:30 he heard the steps of another, and then another and another *until there were six of them.* The next week on October 1, twenty were in attendance; and on *October 7* they were between thirty and forty. The meeting was so animated and encouraging that they decided to hold *daily meetings.*
*By October 14,* the day the banks closed, there were 100 in attendance. Before long all the space was taken, and other Churches began to also open up for *businessmen’s prayer meetings.* The financial crisis was brought under control by *mid-November,* but *the praying men continued on.* Apparently all of this took place without any organized effort.
Soon the revival spread throughout the United States and world. *A February 26, 1872, article in the New York Times* chronicling the history of the old North Dutch Church said, *“It was in this Church that the great revival of 1857 commenced, which spread over almost the whole civilized world.* And here originated those now celebrated Fulton Street noonday prayer-meetings, which have been in existence for 14 years.”
*At the height of the revival, 50,000 conversions a week were reported in New York alone.* It’s estimated that 1,000,000 new Christians were added to Church rolls. Also, perhaps another *1,000,000* of the existing 4,000,000 *Church members* were also converted. That would be equivalent to 10,000,000 new Christians if it happened today, and another *10,000,000 churched people* also being converted.
*And it all happened because one man asked, “Lord, what would you have me do?”*
*The Economic Meltdown of 2008*
*In 2009, Lehman Brothers* went bankrupt and triggered a financial collapse that revealed obscenely over-leveraged, greed-based abuses in multiple American banking, insurance, and investment institutions. Automobile manufacturers went bankrupt. Retailers went bankrupt.
*Home prices collapsed.* Millions of homes faced foreclosure. By mid-2009, the banking industry had lost *$1,000,000,000,000* in sub-prime mortgages or other losses. The U.S. government had accumulated *a deficit* in just one year that exceeded *$4000* for every man, woman, and child. *Unemployment approached 10%.* Commercial real estate values plunged 40%. Commercial and real estate loan defaults were at record levels. *Regulatory agencies* braced themselves for a second banking crisis as big as the first.
*America in Depression*
*But we are not only in a financial recession. We’ve been engulfed in a moral, relational, and spiritual depression for decades.*
For example, 50,000,000 babies have been aborted since abortion was legalized in 1973. The life expectancy of a child born between 1973 and today averages about 75 years. But the life expectancy of a child conceived between 1973 and today is *49 years.* The most dangerous place to be since 1973 is in a mother’s womb!
We’ve also been in *a family depression for decades.* Tonight, 33% of America’s 72,000,000 children will go to bed in a home *without a biological father.* And we’ve been in a marriage depression for decades. *40% of first marriages ended in divorce affecting about 1,000,000 children each year.*
So *why the sudden concern about a financial recession when a moral, relational, and spiritual depression has held our nation in its clutches for decades?*
In retrospect, it now seems obvious. When we were doing well financially, we were willing to wink at *the moral, relational, and spiritual depression all around us.* Praise God that He was not willing to let that stand.
This recession is at least God’s warning and possibly God’s judgment, but in either case, *His grace to lead us to repentance:*
“When I shut the heavens so that there is no rain, or command *the locusts* to devour the land or send *a plague* among my people, 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 *I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”* (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
We have many problems, but like a razor, 2 Chronicles 7:14 cuts through all the complexity. It is not a message to the nation, but a message to the body of Christ: “If my people who are called by my name. . . .”
*A Call to Repentance*
*Our problems are too big to be solved anywhere except on our knees. There is no human solution — no human ingenuity — that can fix this.*
I have no plan except Jesus Christ. But I am praying that *the Holy Spirit* will have mercy upon us and bring us to *repentance and revival. Someone has said, “No matter how far you have traveled down a wrong road, the only solution is to turn back.”* Personally, I pray that God will not take His thumb off our little planet until we *repent.*
*Will you join me in repenting?*
*Will you join me in calling our nation back to God?*
*Will you join me in praying for national repentance?*
It has happened before; it can happen again.
*Does the spirit of Jeremiah Lanphier live in you?* Shouldn’t we all ask the question, “Lord, what would you have me do?”
Yours for changed lives,
*SOURCE: Patrick Morley.*
This message was taken from my *Electronic Messages Mobile Library (EMML)* under the folder titled *”National Issues”*
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Isaac Ayodele Adeleke
Gethsemane Prayer Ministries International Lagos