History Of Revival In America: How It Happened

The history of revival in America marks a period where spirituality and religious devotions were revived. The first revival in the American colonies happened between the 1730s and 1770s. 

The revival marks an essential period in the life of Christians in America and the rest of the world. It is a topic worth discussing, at least for Christians in the country and around the world.

Here, we’ll discuss the history of revival in the United States of America, stating critical timelines and events that occurred. If you want to know more, keep scrolling down!

The History of Revival in America

People who observed what happened in Northampton, Mass., Jonathan Edward’s church in 1734 described how multiple souls were saved. It was evident that God Himself showcased His power, converting believers and unbelievers to people of faith. 

How Christianity was being practiced experienced a change. 

Revivals, like the one in America, had a massive impact because there seemed to be a spiritual force backing it. However, two things happened during revivals:

1: Spiritual revival causes the transformation of people (believers and unbelievers) in a locality, nation, or globally. There is always a supernatural force that turns people away from their sinful ways, embracing Christianity and adhering to the principles of the faith.    

2: Revival compels people to have this unique and unquenchable thirst for God. People are genuinely willing to serve God and avoid their sinful ways. 

The presence of God is felt during meetings like never before. People thirst for the word of God, and backsliders tend to renew their relationship with God. 

Revival generally causes people to re-evaluate and rebuild their relationships with God. It causes people to embrace the things of God and live righteous lives. 

The activities of Christians in America are fueled by the revival that took place years ago. Here, we will discuss the history of this revival, how it happened, and when it happened. 

Christians in the United States of America and even unbelievers can pick a thing or two from this discussion. So, let’s go deeper into the subject matter. 

Revival in America: The Great Awakening:

The Great Awakening started from 1734 to 1743. And the person behind this awakening is a young pastor, Jonathan Edwards. 

Jonathan worked hard to convert souls for God but could only convert less than 10 people. It seemed frustrating, but the fire soon kindled and spread across the town. 

Among those whom pastor Jonathan Edwards converted was a young girl. He even described her as a great company keeper and feared the worst could happen following her conversion. 

Shocking, Jonathan had the opposite result. She even became more serious with her service to God. 

The flame Jonathan Edwards kindled kept growing bigger and bigger. The next thing that happened was that over three hundred people joined the revival and were saved. They repented and converted. 

The number of people in the town makes the conversion of around three hundred people to Christianity exciting. It was a town of only one thousand, one hundred people (1,100). So, to have three hundred submit to the will of God was interesting. 

Reports of hundreds of people submitting themselves to the will of the Most High God started making the rounds. It became a major topic of discussion around town. 

Surprisingly, over 100 towns joined the population of Christians undergoing a revival. A great revival spread across various towns.  

A Handy Tip: George Whitfield was the first celebrity in the United States of America. His preaching and teachings were compelling. He came at the right time. 

George’s preaching was like pouring fuel on an already ignited flame. Approximately 80% of the 900,000 colonists heard him preach and teach the word of God. 

Revivalists in America made do with what they had to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ across different parts of the country. Most revivalists even traveled on horseback to spread the gospel of our lord and savior across towns. Farmers and people of different calibers came to listen to the word of God and were saved. 

The Second Great Awakening 

We have discussed the first awakening. Now, here is the second awakening that took place.  

The second awakening occurred from 1800 to 1840. But then, what happened during this second revival was quite strange. 

Firstly, only one in about 5,300,000 America’s population was worshiping at an evangelical church. 

Another event in the Second Great Awakening was the strange spiritual manifestation James McGready was presiding over. It happened at the Presbyterian Church, as he was a minister then. 

The spiritual manifestation in the Presbyterian Church in Logan County attracted thousands of people as they hadn’t seen anything like it. 

Revival took over the land. It started happening month after month for the next two decades. According to Rev Gardiner Spring, it became a regular thing. Revivals took place every month for the next two and a half decades. It happened in different parts of the country. 

Charles Finney was another popular figure in the American revival. He converted many unbelievers to Christ. He was dedicated to winning souls for God. 

In 1824, Charles started a career that made it easier for him to function as an evangelist. He was able to win over 500,000 souls to God. 

Over 100,000 people got converted in Rochester, NY, in 1831, sparking a revival that spread across various towns. The report states that the revival was like wildfire and spread to a record 1,500 municipalities. 

America experienced a population explosion in 1850. The nation’s population increased to around 23,000,000 people. Excitingly, people connected with the evangelical church grew with the nation’s population. From 350,000, the members of the church grew to 3,000,000. 

The Businessmen Revival

The Businessmen’s Revival was another event that took place and is considered important in the history of revival in America. This event occurred between 1857 and 1858, a short but significant period.  

What happened during the Businessmen’s Revival? In 1857, New York City’s North Dutch Church hired Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman, to work as a missionary. 

Did Jeremiah Lanphier perform his duties? Yes, he did. But before he began, he prayed a simple prayer. He said, “Lord, what would you have me do?”

He needed direction from God on how to win over businessmen in the city, prompting him to say the prayers. However, Jeremiah was concerned about the sort of faces he was seeing. He knew the business people occupying the streets of New York City wouldn’t be easy to convince. 

What did Jeremiah Lanphier do? He decided it would be best to open the church’s doors to business people in the afternoon. Thus, he only arranged meetings with businessmen in the city in the afternoons.   

The first meeting occurred three weeks before the 1857 bank panic shook the country.  

In the first week, only six businessmen showed up to meetings. However, the second week was a lot better. Jeremiah recorded 20 visitors. In the third week, the number of businessmen attending meetings increased to 40. 

Realizing his progress, Jeremiah had to arrange the meetings in the morning. 

His success sparked a revival known as the “Businessmen Revival.” Other churches started copying what he was doing. They began organizing prayer meetings for businessmen. 

The 1857 revival was massive. It started in the United States of America and spread across different parts of the world. It is sometimes regarded as the “Great Prayer Meeting Revival.” The revival brought over a million souls to the church in America. Additionally, around a million to four million people joined the church. 

4 Things That Happened During Revival In America

If you study the revival in America carefully, you will observe the following points we are about to discuss. 

1: You won’t find the word “revival” in the Bible:

Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; you won’t find any portion of the Holy Book where the word “revival” was used. Even the apostles of old and the disciples didn’t use it. 

But does that mean revival didn’t occur, as the Bible recorded? 

Read the Old Testament documents. You’ll find several events where God Himself revived and made His people more committed to Him. 

Revival means to revive or renew something that is dying. It implies renewing one’s relationship and fellowship with the Most High God. 

 If you read the book of 2 Chronicles, you find a situation where God revived the spiritual life of his people. He drew them closer to Himself.    

If you read the Bible carefully, especially the Old Testament, you’ll notice the revival pattern during those periods. It happened this way: someone notices a spiritual decline in the lives of God’s people, and others acknowledge it. Everyone then agrees to make a change. 

2: Revival, renewals, and awakening are used interchangeably: 

The events that took place during the revival in America can be segregated into revival, renewal, and awakening. These three aren’t the same thing. However, people tend to use and consider them as one. 

Revival occurs when the Most High God decides his children’s spirituality is declining and stretches forth his hand to touch them. In this case, God can choose to touch a community of faith, just as he did to the Israelites.  

Awakening is a broader term. It means that a wider community outside the church gets impacted massively. You can read the Great Awakening during the revival period in the United States of America. 

3: The Businessmen’s prayer meeting sparked a national revival:

The Businessmen Revival that took place from 1857 to 1858 was massively successful. Only six businessmen attended Jeremiah Lanphier’s meeting in the first week, but that number kept increasing each week. 

Jeremiah’s missionary work, which entailed gathering businessmen to pray during lunch hour, worked.  

The Businessmen Revival, organized by Jeremiah Lanphier, sparked a national revival that spread to different parts of the world. It was a period where businessmen came together to seek the face of God. 

4: Numerous definitions of revival:

Because the Bible didn’t explicitly define the term “revival,” there is no specific definition. There are diverse definitions of revival out there. You’ll find J.I. Packer’s, Earle Cairns’, and other definitions of revival. 

For instance, J.I. Packer views revival as “God’s quickening visitation of his people, touching their hearts, and deepening his work of grace in their lives.” A good example is what he did to the children of Israel. God wants his children to stay close to him always. It means our spiritual life has to be reviewed and improved upon. We must examine ourselves and be spiritually aware.   

Earle Cairns’ definition is another powerful one. Earle calls it “The work of the Holy Spirit in restoring the people of God to a more vital spiritual life, witness, and work by prayer.   

Conclusion

You can see the history of revival in America. It explains how the church grew geometrically together with the nation’s population. 

Revival is an important event in the lives of every Christian. It marks a period where people had to review their relationship with God. And those who haven’t accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ have a change of heart. 

The Businessmen Revival in the country was also a huge success. It was the first of its kind, yet it greatly impacted people. It is hard for people to leave their businesses during the day to attend other activities. However, businessmen during the revival decided to follow God. Today, we have businessmen who are still organizing such meetings.  

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.

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