The Prayer Meeting That Saved England

The Prayer Meeting That Saved England

January 1, 1739
Prayer meeting saves England

The rise or fall of nations has often depended upon fidelity to the one true God, and the act which most characterizes this faithfulness is the spirit of dependence exemplified by a habit of prayer.  When Israel turned from its sin and sought God in prayer, God heard and answered from heaven.  America now faces a moral and social darkness unknown since the end of the American Revolution when pastors and lay leaders had surrendered their lives for the birth of a new nation, resulting in a dark spiritual and moral vacuum for the fledgling nation.  In the absence of strong spiritual leadership, French deism and agnosticism–brought to America by Frenchmen fighting along side the colonists–nearly swallowed the Christian theological foundation that birthed the American Revolution. 

England and France Compared

image
Reign of Terror

Only fifty years separated England from the bloody massacre of the French Revolution and a New Year’s Eve prayer meeting that continued well into the early morning hours of January 1, 1739. Churchmen and historians have believed that this prayer meeting was part of a larger collage of spiritual life that saved England from the French Revolution and its bloody “Reign of Terror.” It is believed that the same blood-letting that occurred in France against the monarchy, the church, and nobility would very likely have occurred in England had it not been for the Evangelical Awakening in England which was realized most vividly in the lives and ministries of the Wesley brothers and their companions. The love-feast and prayer meeting of Sunday evening, December 31, 1738 and opening hours of Monday morning, January 1, 1739 served as a spiritual inauguration for the public ministry of the Wesleys and Methodism for 1739.

The Wesleys Spare England

image
General James Oglethorpe

For years, John Wesley and his brother Charles had attempted to make themselves acceptable to God through their good works—which would put to shame most contemporaries who profess a saving knowledge of God. They had visited prisons, diligently studied Scripture in the original languages, received the Lord’s Supper several times a week, and ardently pursued conformity to external spiritual expectations, but they did not receive the witness of God’s Holy Spirit that they were accepted into God’s favor. Following graduation from Oxford and entrance into the Anglican ministry, the Wesley brothers ventured to America at the invitation of General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the Georgia Colony. Discouraged and disappointed, both men returned to England by January, 1738, but without spiritual peace. Under the influence of the Moravians in route to America as well as following their return to England, both Charles and John experienced their evangelical conversions through a living faith in Christ Jesus as Savior—only days apart from each other in May of that same year. Later in 1738, John traveled to Germany to the estate of Count Zinzendorf (Moravian patron), the center of the Moravian fellowship, to witness their spiritual life.

image
Wesley and Zinzendorf

By the close of 1738, John Wesley had returned to England from Germany and his visit to the Moravians, and in the closing hours of that year, Wesley gathered with others at Fetter Lane to pray and participate in a love-feast. Throughout his life, Wesley kept a journal, and he recorded the events of that meeting in the entry for January 1, 1739:

Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Hutchins, and my brother Charles, were present at our love-feast in Fetter-Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his Majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.”[1]

Many may wish to interpret this experience in charismatic terms, but they are completely unjustified in doing so. The Wesleys’ lives and ministries from this point forward increased in power and usefulness, extending to all the British Isles, and through the Methodists, to America. From the beginning of Methodism in the late 1720s, while the Wesley brothers were still at Oxford, to the end of their days, the Wesley’s believed that God had raised them up to “spread scriptural holiness across the land.” In nineteenth-century America, the message of Christian purity established Methodism as the largest Protestant denomination in the land. Not since the early Christian Church had such evangelical stress been placed upon the need for Christian purity, as was emphasized by the Methodists of those early generations. As a result, eighteenth-century England witnessed a remarkable spiritual awakening that historians believed saved the British Isles from a bloody revolution similar to that which the French experienced at the hands of the deists, agnostics, and atheists.

Conclusion

image
Washington Praying at Valley Forge

Great movements of God have nearly always been preceded and accompanied by great moments of prayer. In America, the American Revolution was preceded and established upon the First Great Awakening, and when pastors and church leaders had given their lives upon the battlefields of the Revolution and a spiritual vacuum resulted, the Second Great Awakening (1790s and following) gave new life to the Christian Church in the newly-birthed nation—because of prayer. The Revival of 1859 removed the spiritual tarnish from the hearts of many Americans and was the reason for revival in the British Isles later in that same century and the early twentieth century.

For many of us, we have never witnessed our nation in a darker moral or spiritual era than that which we presently experience. This darkness has laid its cold grip upon America and many other portions of the globe. If America is to be saved, Christians must find once again what Wesley and the other congregants of Fetter Lane found on December 31, 1738 and the opening hours of January 1, 1739—the primacy of prayer! England was spared the darkness and devastation of a French-styled revolution, but America will not be if the Church fails to turn and pray!

For Further Consideration

Stephen A. Flick, Ph.D., When the United States Capitol Was a Church. So deep and strong was the relationship of government to the Christian faith in America that the relationship was recognized in a variety of ways. Few realize that the United States Capitol was used as a church for years before it was used to convene the United States Congress. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the United States Capitol was used for church services. In fact, it became a meeting place for a number of churches in Washington, D. C. While secularists wish to keep this and many other similar historical facts quiet, the sincere Christian will wish to celebrate the spiritual heritage our Founding Fathers have bequeathed to us.  Read more...
Stephen A. Flick, Ph.D., America's Founding Fathers and the Bible. Contrary to the contemporary mantra that America was birthed as a secular nation, the historical evidence demonstrates that America was founded by Christians who wished to enjoy the liberty to freely express their Christian faith. Lamentably, Christians have forgotten and neglected the Christian heritage bequeathed to them by America's Founding Fathers and have allowed secularists to disparage and deny what was given to them at such a great price. America's Founding Fathers and the Bible briefly describes a portion of America's Christian heritage, particularly during the rise of nationalism when America was shaping its national government.  Read more...
Stephen A. Flick, Ph.D., When the United States Capitol Was a Church. So deep and strong was the relationship of government to the Christian faith in America that the relationship was recognized in a variety of ways. Few realize that the United States Capitol was used as a church for years before it was used to convene the United States Congress. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the United States Capitol was used for church services. In fact, it became a meeting place for a number of churches in Washington, D. C. While secularists wish to keep this and many other similar historical facts quiet, the sincere Christian will wish to celebrate the spiritual heritage our Founding Fathers have bequeathed to us.  Read more...

We are a user supported non-profit organization.  Your small gift is tax-deductible and will go a long way to help us meet our operating budget – and it is vital, because ...
America deserves to know its true heritage.
Please contribute today!
Click to donate

[1] John Wesley, Works of Wesley (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1986), 1:170.

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

* Prayer Meeting That Saved England *

imageimageimageChristian Heritage Fellowship Facebook
Written by Dr. Stephen FlickNumber of posts: 216
Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, a national organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee with his wife, Beth. They have two grown, married children and five grandchildren.

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be interesting you: The Prayer Meeting That Saved England! This is the link: https://christianheritagefellowship.com/the-prayer-meeting-that-saved-england/