For Our Little Ones: George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards started teaching Colonists about God directly from the Bible. Prior to this, most Colonists felt compelled to attend churches that dictated their own doctrine and did not necessarily encourage reading the Bible and trying to follow it. Since they were not always invited into churches, Whitefield preached in open fields and sometimes on the back of his horse. Colonists were excited about this new message and started praying to God more freely. As they prayed more freely, they began to see themselves as Americans and Christians, and less as Englishmen. The First Great Awakening is credited with unifying the Colonists.
http://www.ushistory.org/us/7.asp is an excellent article that relates the First Great Awakening to the Revolutionary War
What was the Great Awakening?
For more see: http://www.great-awakening.com/basic-concepts-of-the-first-great-awakening/http://www.great-awakening.com/basic-concepts-of-the-first-great-awakening/The Great Awakening was a spiritual renewal that swept the American Colonies, particularly New England, during the first half of the 18th Century. Certain Christians began to disassociate themselves with the established approach to worship at the time which had led to a general sense of complacency among believers, and instead they adopted an approach which was characterized by great fervor and emotion in prayer. This new spiritual renewal began with people like the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield in England and crossed over to the American Colonies during the first half of the 18th Century. Unlike the somber, largely Puritan spirituality of the early 1700s, the revivalism ushered in by the Awakening allowed people to express their emotions more overtly in order to feel a greater intimacy with God.
What caused the Great Awakening?
In late 17th Century England, fighting between religious and political groups came to a halt with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, an event which established the Church of England as the reigning church of the country. Other religions, such as Catholicism, Judaism, and Puritanism, were subsequently suppressed.
From a political perspective, this led to stability since everyone now practiced the same religion. But instead of being a positive driving force for religious belief in general, it created complacency and spiritual “dryness” among believers. Religion became something of a pastime in which people would “go through the motions” during religious services without deeply-felt convictions of the heart and soul. It was only after some decades of this kind of complacency in both England and the American colonies that the spiritual “revival” of the Great Awakening came about.
What were the effects of the Great Awakening?
The Awakening’s biggest significance was the way it prepared America for its War of Independence. In the decades before the war, revivalism taught people that they could be bold when confronting religious authority, and that when churches weren’t living up to the believers’ expectations, the people could break off and form new ones.