A Call to Prayer – The Second Great Awakening began in England around 1792.
It had its roots in the Call to Prayer of 1784. The pastors of the Northhampton Association issued a call to prayer for the first Monday of each month. Prayer meetings began to spread to other areas and across denominational lines. The object of the prayer concerts was: “That the Holy Spirit may be poured down on our ministers and churches, that sinners may be converted, the saints edified, the interest of religion revived, and the name of God glorified. At the same time…let the whole interest of the Redeemer be affectionately remembered, and the spread of the Gospel to the most distant parts of the habitable globe be the object of our most fervent requests.”
Revival did come to ministers and churches. Word of the revival spread across the Atlantic, and by 1797 the revival fires began to break out in the United States. This awakening was different from the first. Rather than outside evangelists, God worked through pastors in their congregations.
Pastor-led, Word-centered, and Long-lived – Pastors preached from God’s Word with a focus on God’s sovereignty and the necessity of redemption. The Holy Spirit brought deep conviction of sin, and people surrendered to Christ and were converted. These revivals were long lasting, covering two to three decades. Revivals swept many college campuses like Yale where 75 out of 230 students were converted. Half of these surrendered to the Gospel ministry.
Camp Meetings – By 1800 the movement crossed the mountains to Kentucky and Tennessee. James McCready preached in open-air meetings (later known as camp meetings). The presence of a holy God so gripped people that they experienced physical anguish often resulting in collapse, groans, and piercing shrieks. Individuals confesses their sins, prayer fervently for forgiveness and salvation, and were joyously converted.
Results of Revival and Awakening – This period of spiritual quickening lasted for decades and thoroughly covered Britain and the United States spreading to other countries around the globe. Lives and communities were so transformed in morals and spirit that outside observers were struck by the radical differences they saw. College campuses were reclaimed from religious infidelity to once again prepare missionaries and ministers of the Gospel. Churches were revived in spirit and flooded with new converts. No one has been able to estimate the total results of the awakening, but in Kentucky, Baptists saw an increase of 10,000. The Methodist Episcopal Church saw a national increase of 40,000 between 1800 and 1803. Many other denominations experienced similar growth.
Modern Missions – Perhaps the greatest impact of God’s sovereign work was the launching of the modern missions movement. William Carey began his preaching ministry in the Northamptonshire Association during the days of the Call to Prayer. In 1792 he led the organization of the Baptist Missionary Society; and went to India as its first missionary. Other organizations which came to life during this time included: the London Missionary Society; Congregational, Baptist and Methodist foreign missions societies; home missions societies of several denominations; national and international Bible and tract societies; numerous Christian colleges; 17 theological seminaries; and many more.
When God’s people are revived, He gives them a new heart with His compassion for a lost world.
This account has been adapted from The History of American Revivals by Frank Grenville Beardsley, 1912 (pp. 84-107) and “The Prayer Call of 1784” by E. A. Payne in Jubilee Celebrations 1942-44, Baptists Missionary Society, 1945 (pp. 19-31).
- Pray for a deep conviction of sin to come upon us a church and as a nation.
- Pray for the gift of repentance to be embraced by the church and by our nation.
- Pray for a fresh anointing of prayer in your life.
By Pastor Dotty Schmitt