1857 found America in a tumultuous time. Civil War was brewing, the economy was unstable,
and morality seemed hardly to be found. But God used a man who was willing to give up his
lunch hour to prayer, to draw His people close to Him before one of the worst wars in our
Jeremiah Lanphier was just an ordinary man. He worked as a clothing wholesaler in New York
City. He was so concerned with the souls of those around him, that he spent his evenings
handing out tracts. Eventually, Jeremiah accepted a job at a Dutch Reformed Church visiting
members, witnessing, and holding Bible studies. This job proved to be demanding work with
little visible reward and Jeremiah found himself physically and spiritually exhausted when his
days would end. Because of this, he began to pray at noon for one hour. He found this
reinvigorated him and gave him strength to continue his work as the scripture says,
“They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength.” (Is. 41:10)
After doing this for a while he realized that if he received strength from his noon prayer, perhaps
others, especially businessmen, could also benefit from spending the noon hour in prayer. He
printed 20,000 flyers that read, “Prayer Meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock – stop 5, 10, or 20 minutes,
or the whole hour as your time admits.” For thirty minutes the man prayed alone, as he had
done so many times before.
Then, one by one, five men walked in and prayed with him. The
next week there were twenty men, and on the third week there were forty.
Shortly after the third meeting, an economic collapse occurred; banks closed, business shut
down and thousands of people lost their jobs. So many people rushed to the churches, that
many were forced to open for noon and evening prayer meetings. Jeremiah began offering the
prayer meetings every day and it was long before he had to rent a bigger building. One reporter
traveling from church to church recorded 6,000 people from the buildings he was able to visit
The revival spread to Boston and Philadelphia, while churches in Chicago, St. Louis, and
Cleveland also opened at noon for prayer meetings. This revival led into the Third Great
Awakening which is said to have drawn 1 million people into the family of Christ. It is also said
that this revival influenced the Welsh Revival of 1904.
All of this was possible because one man listened to God’s call to pray for one hour during a
time that he could have spent eating or resting. May we be encouraged by God’s willingness to
use, even the most unqualified of us, to complete His great work.