The elders of the North Dutch Reformed Church of New York City hoped to reverse a decline in Sunday attendance, so in June 1857 they enlisted Jeremiah Lanphier as a lay missionary to launch an ambitious visitation ministry. Within weeks attendance increased, most notably among men... quite the departure from what churches of that time were accustomed to.
Lanphier's endeavors were not without discouragement and frustration. But his regular habit of seeking the Lord's renewed strength did not go unanswered. It thus occurred to Lanphier that perhaps the businessmen of the congregation would also benefit from such a practice, and he set about to organize a weekly prayer meeting held between noon and one o'clock.
The first meeting was held on Wednesday, September 23, 1857, in the churches consistory building at the corner of Fulton and William streets... within a stone's throw of where the World Trade Center would one day stand and fall. Only six men came that day, but a week later there were 20, and the third week there were 40. Almost immediately it was decided that the meetings should be held daily. As the weeks passed, attendance continued to increase and the meeting was moved from room to room as their numbers required. Women began to join the meeting as well, and within six months the entire consistory building was filled.
Soon noonday prayer meetings sprang up throughout the city. The press caught wind of it and began covering the "Progress of the Revival." With the press coverage came increased awareness, and congregations in cities across the country started their own noonday prayer meetings.
More than 1 million people across the country came to Christ, and in many recorded cases, the time of conversion was traced back to the exact day of prayer for the individual.
The noonday prayer revival took place three years before the Civil War. One cannot help but think that God was preparing a country for its darkest hour. Many who went into battle were no doubt prepared for the prospect of death as a result of their noonday prayer encounters.
Taken from the book: "Under God" by Toby Mac and Michael Tait