|The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting, A Simple Prayer Gathering that Changed the World
By Talbot W. Chambers
Originally published in 1858, this classic volume recounts the remarkable history of New York City’s Fulton Street Noon Prayer Meeting that sparked a revival throughout America and abroad. Full of remarkable stories of God’s power to draw people to Himself, this firsthand account of the Noon Prayer Meeting not only tells what God has done in the past, but will raise your faith to new levels for what God will do in the future. This glimpse into history will give you new fervor to believe that God’s power to bring His Kingdom to Earth will once again rain down on New York City and America in days to come.
Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, a pastor at the North Dutch Reformed Church in New York City and participant in the Fulton Street Noon Prayer Meetings, was commissioned to write this inspiring account of the remarkable events he witnessed in 1857-1858.
“In many ways New York City is the same today as it was in 1857 during the beginning of the Noon Hour Prayer Meeting revival. In 1857 it was culturally diverse, extremely busy and focused on making money, full of empty church buildings with a population much less interested in Jesus in comparison with the rest of the American population at the time.
“It was also a city facing an economic crisis. On August 24th of 1857 the New York City branch of The Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Co. collapsed due to widespread corruption and embezzlement. This touched off a panic that brought down businesses across our nation. What strikes me is how similar these circumstances are to the current situation in our nation even down to the approximate time of the year.”
Taken from Foreword by Jeremy Story, National President, Campus Renewal Ministries
Our price: $8.95
Paperback: 135 pages
Publisher: Campus Renewal Ministries (2009), ISBN: 978-0-982178-70-6
Letters about this Volume
The Volume prepared by my Colleague, the Rev. Dr. Chambers, entitled “THE NOON PRAYER MEETING,” will doubtless attract the interest of the Christian public at large. It traces from the first institution of the Noon Day Prayer Meeting, in September, 1857, its onward progress and widening diffusion, with the blessed results which have followed. It has been carefully prepared, and full reliance may be placed upon the accuracy of its statements. It is hoped that it may be in some degree instrumental, under the Divine blessing, in cherishing and extending the religious influence now spread through our country.
– Thomas DeWitt, New York, October 25th, 1858.
The religious public, at home and abroad, must be hungry for full and authentic information respecting the origin and history of “THE NOON PRAYER MEETING,” which, as is well known, had its beginning in the Lecture or Consistory Room of the North Dutch Church, Fulton street, New York. This work is the very thing we need. Its author, the Rev. Dr. Chambers, one of the pastors of the Church on whose premises the Prayer Meeting has been held, has had every opportunity to know and collect the facts. His literary ability will be found to be worthy of his high position, and his deep sympathy with the blessed movement has shed through his pages and ardour of pious earnestness, controlled by a prayerful sobriety, which renders his Narrative both interesting and trustworthy. He deserves, as doubtless he will receive, the thanks of us all.
– Geo. W. Bethune, Minister of the Ref. Dutch Church, on the Heights, Brooklyn.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Tom Mahairas
Chapter I: Introductory
Chapter II: The Origin, Character, and Progress of the Noon Prayer Meeting
Chapter III: The Globe Hotel Meeting
Chapter IV: Requests for Prayers and for Thanks
Chapter V: Answers to Prayer
Chapter VI: The Noon Meeting in Philadelphia
Chapter VII: General Reflections
Did you know that New York City currently has 8.2 million residents? In fact, the greater New York metropolitan area has almost 22 million residents. It is the most populous city in the United States and the third most populous urban area in the world. Almost every global business with significant influence has an office there. It is a cultural melting pot filled with potential for the kingdom of God that is hard to fathom.
In many ways, New York City is the same today as it was in 1857 during the beginning of the Noon Hour Prayer Meeting revival. In 1857 it was culturally diverse, extremely busy and a population much less interested in Jesus in comparison with the rest of the American population at the time.
It also was a city facing an economic crisis. On August 24th of 1857 the New York City branch of The Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Co. collapsed due to widespread corruption and embezzlement. This touched off a panic that brought down businesses across our nation.
What strikes me is how similar these circumstances are to the current situation in our nation even down to the approximate time of the year.
Over two years ago, God spoke to me to publish this book. I had no idea all God had in mind. About a year after this, He again clearly spoke and instructed my wife and me to move from Austin, TX, our home of 14 years, to the borough of Manhattan in New York City. We packed up our belongings, our five small children (that’s right five), and moved into an apartment in Manhattan.
Three months after we moved to New York City, the stock market collapsed. I still remember sitting in a coffee shop that morning realizing I had the only copies in the nation of a book which directly pertained to what God wanted to do in the current crisis. Firmly convinced none of this was random coincidence, I looked out the window at the New Yorkers passing by on Broadway asking God what to do next.
Shortly after that, one of the most influential pastors in the city called me on his cell phone as he read a copy of the book in Central Park. He invited me to his office and offered to help in any way possible. Then The New York Times called me to do an interview about the book and I soon found myself on the main editorial room of the Times describing the revival history of New York City to two editors.
God is already strongly at work in New York City, but I, along with others, long for an even broader work of God to be birthed there again, like that which started through the Noon Hour Prayer Meeting in 1857.
This prayer meeting had modest beginnings. Talbot Chambers writes in this book,
“At twelve o’clock, on the 23rd day of September, 1857, the door was thrown open, and the missionary [Jeremiah Lanphier] took his seat to await the response to the invitation which he had given. After a half hour’s delay, the steps of one person were heard as he mounted the staircase. Presently another appeared and another, until the whole company amounted to six. After the usual services of such a meeting, they dispersed. On the Wednesday, September 30th, the six increased to twenty, and the subsequent week, October 7th, as many as forty were present.”
Yet, within the next two years, this small meeting would grow to involve tens of thousands, spawn other meetings across the city and start similar meetings in other cities across America. By some estimates, over 150,000 people because followers of Christ through this move of God.
This should be a lesson to all of us never to despise small beginnings nor to shrink back in this current crisis. Instead, we should seek in all things to attract the presence of the Lord. Those things are simple: 2 Chronicles 7:14 reminds us that humility, repentance, prayer and unity attract God’s presence. It is my prayer that a prayer meeting with an even larger size and influence than what you read about in this book will start once again in New York City.
2007 marked the 150th anniversary of the Noon Hour Prayer Meeting revival in New York City. Imagine if once again tens of thousands of businesspeople gathered daily to seek the Lord’s face for revival in New York City. What if something like this happened in your city or on your college campus?
The world is at an amazing intersection of values. God is moving like never before to see millions brought into the kingdom. On the other hand, others in our nation and the world are living lives of ever increasing immorality and sin. Jesus said the problem is not with the harvest (the world around the church). He said the problem is with His workers (the church).
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 10:2b)
I trust that the Lord will use this book to raise up more people like Jeremiah Lanphier who are willing to trust him through humble and simple beginnings for a fresh and powerful outpouring of His spirit once again.
Campus Renewal Ministries
New York City, NY
What is prayer? Prayer is a breath of God returning from where it came. Prayer is the spiritual wireless internet without limitations. No need for a cell phone or computer. Every soul has the software and hardware that can instantly be connected to the living God. “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
My wife, Vicky, and I found this to be true in the psychedelic 60’s—before cell phones and the internet. We grew up in New York City and met when we were 16, at the Central Park Zoo in front of the orangutan cage. I was a rock-n-roll musician headed for fame, or so I though. We sought for the true meaning in life by doing drugs and living as hippies in Greenwich Village. In 1968, we ended up at Word of Life Island through a seriew of cataclysmic events (friends dying of overdoses, bad L.S.D. trips, time in a mental institution, and shock treatments). When we heard for the first time, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, and that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” we knew this was what we had been searching for. We cried out to God, and He changed our lives forever. Here was a message for everyone regardless of religion, ethnicity, social standing or intellect. God so loved the world—rich and poor, white and black, Arab and Jew—WOW!
This Good News not only transformed our lives, but sharing this Good News with the whole world became our mission. It is what we eat and drink; it is what we breathe day in and day out. It is our mission to tell the world about the love of God, and how he gave his only Son in exchange for us (2 Cor. 5:20-12). What has sustained us as a couple, as parents, and in 30 years of ministry in New York City, has been prayer. Simply calling out to the God of the universe—sharing with Him our burdens, asking Him for wisdom and direction—anytime, anywhere! No static, no call waiting, no operators, and no disconnections!
Since prayer is so vital in our lives, my spirit jumped for joy the first time I held in my hands an original, 1858 copy of this book. It was a firsthand account of what happened at the noonday prayer meetings in New York City in 1857. This prayer meeting is what started the fires of a great revival that prepared men and women for ministry to hundreds of thousands of soldiers during the Civil War. I wanted to know everything! Who started it? How did it happen? On what street did it take place? Could I visit the exact location? As I opened the book and began to read its pages, it was as if I stepped into a time machine with the dial set to September 23, 1857, the Old Dutch Church, Fulton Street, New York City. This location was in the exact vicinity where the World Trade Center recently stood—between West Street and Greenwich, crossing at Fulton.
I soon discovered that in 1857, Jeremiah Lanphier was at a crossroads in his life; he was a single, middle-aged businessman without children and family. Choosing significance over success, he began to work with the Old Dutch Church North as a lay missionary. Ministering in the dark slums of Hell’s Kitchen, he poured himself into the lives of the poor and needy—people who were homeless, helpless, and hopeless. Month after month he went door-to-door sharing the Good News, distributing tracts, and holding Bible studies with whoever would listen. Eventually he grew tired and discouraged with little or no results. What sustained Jeremiah was the knowledge that he was obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission.
Jeremiah would begin the day going from office to office, house to house, and shop to shop; but by midday he was physically, emotionally, and spiritually worn out. He discovered that even as the body needs food, the soul and spirit need prayer. So he went and requested a room at the Old Dutch Church North, so that he could cry out to God for spiritual strength. September 23, 1857, was the first official noonday prayer meeting. He asked other businessmen to come over their lunch hour and pray. For the first thirty minutes he sat alone praying. Then six men showed up. But God was already there doing His work! Two weeks later there were over 40 people! Soon every church and publich meeting hall were filled with noonday prayer meetings. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers were meeting daily for one hour to pray! The result? Over 150,000 new believers! Many joined Jeremiah in reaching the youth and immigrants of Hell’s Kitchen.
Finding this book reminded me of Hilkiah the priest who found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses in 2 Chronicles 34:14. It was buried underneath the money. Hilkiah the priest gave the book to Shaphan the scribe, and Shaphan brought the book to the king and read it to him. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. The king knew there was a great need to return and seek God.
This need still remains. This passage from 2 Chronicles 34 shows how God brings about revival in a nation. It is just what Jeremiah did in 1857 in New York City. The cry of 2 Chronicles 7:14 also rings truer than ever, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and heal their land.”
As you read this book, allow God’s Spirit to speak to your heart. The great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon put it this way, “He who rushes from his bed to his business without first spending time with God is as foolish as though he had not washed or dressed, and as unwise as one dashing to battle without arms or armor.” Call out to Him, realizing that in the name of Jesus you have immediate access to the God and Father of all creation!
On September 11, 2001, as the planes hit the World Trade Center, I was in a prayer meeting in the Empire State Building with the Board of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York. As we evacuated, we immediately felt the ened for prayer. We were not alone. From that day until now, not one person has been disrespectful towards God or has refused to pray—from police precincts, to firehouses, from the street, to Ground Zero—men, women, and children continue to cry out to God for help. Does God intend to use this horrific attack to bring revival from the rubble—from the same place He did in 1857?
Founder, Manhattan Bible Church
President, CitiVision, Inc.
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