The danger in speaking about revival is that it can become a catchphrase and indeed become a word that is misunderstood and misused (like many other words in the Christian vocabulary such as grace). My best friend Pete Day's latest post is spot on when he writes;
"I want the Church of Jesus Christ to worship with the joy and extravagance of the redeemed, the intimacy of the child of God, and the reverence of those coming before the Lord of the whole earth. I want preaching with a fire that wakes the dead and transforms the saints. I want us to be saturated with the presence of God. I want us to take evangelism seriously - not as an optional extra. I want the prayer meetings to be full. Every area!"
Note that - he wrote; "I want us to be saturated with the Presence of God". A cursory reading of revival church histories will reveal that it is the restoring of the Presence of God that is the single common factor in each case. Other phenomenon such as shaking, falling over, gifts of the Spirit do not occur in every case - at least they don't seem to be documented as occuring. But the manifest Presence of God is always there! I was very struck in reading Brian Edward's book; "Revival - A People Saturated with God!". Brian Edwards was a regular speaker at my home church in Dunstable and wouldn't pretend to be a charismatic by an stretch of the imagination. Yet this passage in his book was incredibly stirring and thrilling;
"The Presence of God. This is the key to understanding what revival is. If there is one aspect of worship that is lacking, it is the felt Presence of God. Whatever our label or style, whatever our claims or convictions Christian churches today are not generally noted for the overwhealming sense of the Presence of God. That is why we behave so carelessly in worship.
The deep work of the Spirit in revival is always noted for the experience that convinces us that God is present.
Of course we believe the promises of God that He is always present with us and especially when believers meet together; even without a sense of His Presence we are right to believe He is a promise keeping God. However revival is altogether different. God is known to be there and even the unbeliever is compelled to admit "God is truly among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25).
In revival the Presence of God becomes a tangible felt experience".
It seems to me that when the Presence of God is not so powerfully present in the church, it is then that we are in danger of replacing that lack with the modern gimmicks that we are so familiar with. I remember Dave Holden preaching at the first Brighton Leadership Conference I went to on the subject, "Worship - Charismatic or Electronic?". His point was that the presence of guitars and an overhead projector do not make for true charismatic worship! C H Spurgeon put it this way;
"But if I have gone through the general routine of the worship of my church, and then think that I have done something acceptable to God, while yet my heart has not communed with him in humble repentance, or faith, or love, or joy, or consecration, I make a great mistake. You may keep on with your religious performances for seventy years or more; you may never miss what our Scotch friends call "a diet of worship"; you may not neglect a single rubric in the whole ritual; but it is all nothing unless the soul has fellowship with God".
My point is simply this - to what extent are we going to be satisfied with nothing less than the manifest Presence of God? How long are we going to be satisfied with the status quo and adjust our theology to meet that? When are we going to seize hold of God and tell Him through prayer that "for Zion's sake we will give Him no rest until Jerusalem is made a praise in the earth"? Without the Presence of the Spirit we are nothing and all our efforts are for nothing! Let C H Spurgeon have the last word;
"We must pray in the Holy Ghost, or else we shall not pray at all; and we must preach under the influence of the Holy Ghost, or else we shall chatter like sparrows on the window-sill in the morning, and nothing will come of the chattering. Only the Holy Ghost can make anything we do to be effectual. Therefore never begin any work without the Holy Ghost, and do not dare go on with the impetus that you have gained, but cry again for the Holy Spirit. The "amen" of the sermon needs to be spoken in the power of the Holy Ghost just as much as the first word of the discourse, and every word between the first and the last. Let all your service for God be in the Spirit, or else it is all good for nothing".