When is revival needed among God’s people? When they have their left first love. God’s people need to be revived when they find themselves going through the motions, having “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2nd Timothy 3:5). God’s people need revival when they are wallowing in sin, perhaps regretting their sins, but unwilling to thoroughly repent of them. God’s people need revival when they are neglecting their relationship with Christ. Revival is needed when we are low on zeal and have grown lukewarm.
J. I. Packer lists five Marks of Revival:
(1) Awareness of God’s Presence
(2) Responsiveness to God’s Word
(3) Sensitiveness to sin
(4) Liveliness in Community – A revived church is full of life, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit
(5) Faithfulness in testimony – an evangelistic and ethical overspill into the world.
We can all agree with Spurgeon as he described the kind of revival he wanted to see:
“We need a work of the Holy Spirit of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they turn to God and live. We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit. We would behold the fire descending from heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?”
Is there a “formula for revival”? Sometimes, you hear 2nd Chronicles 7:14 used as a recipe for revival:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
But that’s the whole deal, isn’t it? Getting God’s people to humble themselves, to pray, to seek God’s face, and repent? It would seem that if all that is happening, you have revival! The condition being met in this passage leads to forgiveness and restoration; at least that’s what it says after the word, “then”.
So, should we pray for revival? Of course! That’s what we see the Psalmist doing in the verses above. But can we reduce the work of a sovereign God to a man-dependant formula? No. Revival is the work of God. We pray for it because we are dependant upon Him to send it.