|The Power of Prayer ....||Brad Gault|
They came from miles around. On horseback, in wagons, on foot, they came. More than ten thousand men, women and children gathered at Gasper River in Logan County, Kentucky. Did they come because of some great sporting event, or to see the President? No! They came because they had heard that the spirit of God was moving in the midst of His people and they wanted to be a part of it. After they worshiped four days, it was said of the event that "the power of God seemed to shake the whole assembly. No person seemed to wish to go home -- hunger and sleep seemed to affect nobody -- eternal things were the vast concern." What precipitated this great event? In a word -- prayer.
It was the mid 1790's and already our great nation was drifting from the Christian principles upon which she was founded. Men like Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen and Thomas Jefferson were embracing ideals that had their roots in the French Revolution and were based on the enlightened philosophy of the age of reason, ideals that were "subtly replacing biblical Christianity with faith in the nation itself."
Despite a new Constitution and a Bill of Rights that "gave promise of both political stability and complete religious freedom," our nation was spiritually adrift. It was in the grips of evil. Many ministers had been led away into this enlightenment thinking, this "French Infidelity." There was a great dearth of the hearing of the word of God, but nowhere did it seem as bad as it did in Logan County, Kentucky.
Logan County was virtually lawless. It "had become a habitation for so many murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters that the criminals themselves renamed the district 'Rogue's Harbor.'" The few in the county who were the more law-abiding citizens formed themselves into "Regulators" and attempted to enforce law and order. The quarrels between the Rogues and the Regulators grew heated and violent. Blood was shed and lives were lost, until eventually the Regulators were driven from the county.
Into this region, perhaps totally unaware of the civil strife and lawlessness that abounded, rode a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister by the name of James McCready. It was said that he "wore buckskin breeches and spoke with a rough pioneer's plainness," but he spoke with fire and conviction.
It was not long before it became clear that James McCready had a vision for Logan County -- to see it "transformed by a mighty work of God's Spirit." After the custom of the frontier society, McCready established and pastored three churches, one at Red River, another at Gasper River and a third at Muddy River. Despite his best efforts, however, his success was small. Only a handful of people was converted from their lawless ways.
James McCready was determined. His preaching and pastoring may not have proved as competent for the challenge as he may have hoped, but "he had a secret weapon -- a solemn Covenant of Prayer." He asked people to sign a contract in which they pledged themselves to pray that God would return the county to its Christian foundation. With these words he admonished those willing to make a solemn covenant to give themselves wholly to it:
"When we consider the word and promises of a compassionate God, to the poor lost family of Adam, we find the strongest encouragement for Christians to pray in faith -- to ask in the name of Jesus for the conversion of their fellow men. None ever went to Christ, when on earth, with the case of their friends that were denied, and although the days of his humiliation are ended, yet for the encouragement of his people, he has left it on record, that when two or three agree upon earth, to ask in prayer, believing, it shall be done. Again, whatsoever ye shall ask the father in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the son. With these promises before us we feel encouraged to unite our supplications to a prayer-hearing God, for the outpouring of his spirit, that his people may be quickened and comforted, and that our children, and sinners generally may be converted. Therefore we bind ourselves to observe the third Saturday of each month, for one year, as a day of fasting and prayer, for the sinners in Logan County, and throughout the world. We also engage to spend one-half hour every Saturday evening, beginning at the setting of the sun, and one-half hour every Sabbath morning, at the rising of the sun, in pleading with God to revive his work."
The covenant was signed, and the work of prayer began. After six months nothing had changed. This "valiant band of prayer warriors" did not give up. They continued praying to the God they loved and adored until their faith prevailed. Slowly, the tide began to turn. One congregation after another began to experience the moving of God's spirit. A new church was formed at Clay-lick and in just two short years the membership of the original three congregations grew to nearly 500 souls.
James McCready, sensing the moving of God's spirit in Logan County, scheduled a series of services to be held from Friday to Monday at the Gasper River church during the last weekend of July 1800. The word spread that people should come. They were told to bring their wagons and be prepared to camp for the duration of the meetings.
Meanwhile, citizens at Gasper River were getting ready. A clearing was cut into the woods, benches were made and preaching stands were built. In spite of all the preparations no one, not even James McCready, was ready for what happened that weekend. Over ten thousand people attended! This was a miraculous event, especially when considering that during this time the largest town in Kentucky, Lexington, which was over 100 miles away, had a population of only eighteen hundred people.
During the weekend multitudes turned to Christ. Sinners left their lawless ways and confessed their dedication to the Savior. God blessed their repentance with an outpouring of His Spirit. The Holy Ghost was manifest in such power that even rouges were converted.
McCready later wrote what happened. He said: "All the blessed displays of Almighty power and grace, all the sweet gales of the divine Spirit, and soul-reviving showers of the blessings of Heaven which we enjoyed before, and which we consider wonderful beyond conception, were but like a few scattering drops before a mighty rain, when compared with the overflowing floods of salvation, which the eternal, gracious Jehovah has poured out like a mighty river, upon this our guilty, unworthy county. The Lord has indeed shewed himself a prayer-hearing God: he has given his people a praying spirit and a lively faith, and then he has answered their prayers far beyond their highest expectations."
The revival that began at Gasper River did not stop when the meetings were over. News that God had poured out His Spirit on all those who came spread throughout the frontier. Its testimony encouraged others, although far removed from the site, to seek the Lord. When they did, the Holy Spirit touched them until they embraced the Savior. As a result of the token efforts of a handful of devoted Christians the flames of revival spread across America. Multitudes turned to Christ. Not only was the lawlessness of Logan County checked, but the potential for lawlessness on the frontier was curbed at the same time.
Today Logan County is famous for revival, not lawlessness. From the dawn of our nation it testifies that when Americans return to God in prayer, He hears their prayers and returns to them. At the same time he restores order not only to their locality, but to the entire nation. This is the lesson that can be learned from Logan County. Prayer is powerful.
Pilgrim Ministries believes that the same power of prayer that changed Logan County can change America. We live in a nation that harbors rogues, that encourages evil and caters to the desires of carnal man. Prayer is our weapon. It is our fortress and salvation. It is the ladder leading to the gate of heaven, the place of our refuge and the habitation of our Savior. By it the repentant and faithful can call upon the Almighty to move the mountains of hatred, violence, grief, and despair. The dedication of humble petitioners can move God to return America to its Christian foundations.
Pilgrim Ministries has set aside the afternoon of the third Sunday of each month for prayer. We invite all to join us in petitioning God to heal our land. The Bible Promises, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps 33:12).
For her our prayers shall rise
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14)