The roots of virtually every social reform movement of the 1800s in America can be traced to Charles Finney’s revival meetings. Charles G. Finney was a former lawyer whose early ministry took place in western New York State. His preaching sometimes resulted in entire towns being converted. He attacked every vice known to society. Prayer was always at the heart of the revival.

During one revival in the Rochester, New York area, Finney urged the people to pray to God earnestly and expectantly for “the immediate outpouring of His Holy Spirit.” Finney wrote: “Indeed the town was full of prayer. Go where you would, you heard the voice of prayer. Pass along the streets, and if two or three Christians happened to be together they were praying. Wherever they met they prayed. Wherever there was a sinner unconverted, especially if he manifested any opposition, you would find some two or three brothers or sisters agreeing to make him a particular subject of prayer; and it was remarkable to see to what an extent God would answer prayer immediately…No one could come into the village without feeling awestricken with the impression that God was there in a peculiar and wonderful way.”

An eyewitness to the revivals wrote: “Preaching and praying were his [Finney’s] only weapons. He surrounded himself with an atmosphere of prayer, and a body of devoted praying and working Christians male and female such as New York had never before seen, and probably never since.”

Let’s pray the same prayer Habakkuk the prophet prayed: “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Hab. 3:2)