Revival Stories

The 1745 Revival among Delaware Indians

On April 1st, 1743, a young 27 year old missionary named David Brainerd started work among the tribes of the Delaware Indians in the New England area. Brainerd had put his faith in Jesus when he was 21 years old, and he was often described as serious in demeanor, self-deprecating, and extremely hard-working. It was also evident that he was especially zealous about prayer and fasting, and his writings later revealed how his life was saturated in prayer alone with Father God and also with spontaneous prayers with others around him. Prayer was a key defining trait of his faith and life.

The Delaware Indians traditionally believed that spirits inhabited everything in the world. Shamans helped to control the evil spirits in the world and to placate the more helpful ones. Many natives of that time were caught up in idolatry, drunkenness, or dishonesty. In January 1745, when Brainerd started working with the tribe in Crosswicks, New Jersey, he sensed initially an appalling sense of apathy and hardness towards the Gospel. He felt such a heaviness in the air and a spirit of depression as he preached. Yet he faithfully shared the Word of God and pressed on with his prayers.

In the summer of 1745, something started to change. Brainerd sensed God’s leading to preach on the kindness and goodness of God. As he preached about the Savior’s compassion and mercy, he noticed that many of his listeners seemed visibly moved, and others were distressed at the realization of the badness that was in their hearts. They were overwhelmed by the amazing grace of the Gospel, and almost the whole crowd would be in tears by the end of the service.

On August 8th, he began preaching to a large group from Luke 14:15-23, about the great banquet and how God yearned intensely for people to come to the feast, even those who seemed completely unworthy. This stirred something deep in their hearts. And then the power of God seemed to descend like a mighty rushing wind upon the whole group. Like an irresistible flood, the listeners appeared distressed about their sins, crying out to God for mercy, weeping in conviction. Those who were already believers began speaking words of comfort and peace and giving others invitations to trust in the Savior. Revival had ignited among them and began to spread!

A few days later, a young Indian woman who lived as an atheist and had mockingly dismissed what was happening came to the services. She too was overcome with awareness of her own sin and desperation for the peace only God could give. She started praying in her native tongue, over and over again: “Have mercy on me, and help me to give You my heart!”

She prayed this non-stop for hours on end until she too finally received the gift of salvation.


  1. How would you describe David Brainerd? What do you think in Brainerd’s life attracted God to bring revival among the Delaware Indians?
  2. When have you felt depressed about something you did for the Lord that did yield the result you were hoping for? What would you say are keys to seeing breakthrough?
  3. What aspects of God proclaimed by Brainerd pierced the hearts of the Indians in New Jersey that summer in 1745? Why do you think this was so powerful?
  4. When the Spirit was poured out like a rushing wind, what were the immediate results? How did the Christians respond to this? How were they prepared for this? How is God preparing Christians in your city today for the coming revival?
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