In 1857, a church by the name of Fulton Street in New York City asked a man named Jeremiah Lanphier to reach unsaved men working in the city. He accepted the position and began to host a one hour prayer meeting at noon inviting men from the neighborhood to attend and passing out pamphlets in the street.  

His first meeting only garnered six attendees, and they all arrived late. However, Jeremiah did not give up and after several weeks of faithfully continuing in his ministry, the attendance began to increase. By the end of the year, the meeting was taking place each day and the attendance was filling three rooms in the church. 

With his success, others began to form similar meetings throughout New York and other cities. In March of the following year a front page story reported that 6,000 people were giving up their lunch hour to pray at meetings across New York and Pittsburg. The crowds became so large that at the capitol, prayer meetings were held five times a day to accommodate them. 

It even became a usual sight to see signs on a shop door read, “Will open at the close of the prayer meeting,” and factories started blowing their lunch whistles five minutes before noon to allow the workers time to get to the meetings by noon. 

While other revivals were often contributed to or led by preaching, the Fulton Street Revival consisted almost entirely of prayer with no formal leader running the meetings. Occasionally someone would lead in prayer or give a brief exhortation or testimony, but the main focus of the meetings was simply prayer.

In May of 1859, 50,000 people had been converted to Christ and the revival continued to spread to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Countless souls saved by one man’s decision to invite others to join him for one hour of prayer a day. It is a sacrifice to be sure, giving up one’s lunch break to pray, but infinitely worth it when compared to the eternal reward. 

Summarized from “The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever” by Towns, Elmer and Porter, Douglas