Patterns of Spiritual Renewal
Spiritual awakenings, whether in biblical or Church history, manifest patterns that are similar, often strikingly so. While all of the following elements may not be present in each instance, for the most part awakenings progress through a cycle whose phases include these various aspects of God’s working.
1) Awakenings are usually preceded by a time of spiritual depression, apathy and gross sin, in which a majority of nominal Christians are hardly different from the members of secular society, and the churches seem to be asleep.
The causes of each decline differ widely, but when the prophetic voice and moral leadership of the Church has been stilled for some time, social evils are usually rampant. Eighteenth-century England is an excellent example. Alcoholism was at an all-time high, capital punishment was used routinely for trivial crimes, slavery was practiced throughout the British Empire, the churches were out of touch. The Evangelical Awakening led by John Wesley and George Whitefield aroused the English conscience and by direct political pressure and action, cured these and many other ills.
2) An individual or small group of God’s people becomes conscious of their sins and backslidden condition, and vows to forsake all that is displeasing to God.
Christians recall past outpourings of God’s grace and power, and long to see them again. When histories of awakenings have been written in later years, it has been occasionally discovered thatindividuals at great distances and completely unknown to each other had, prior to the awakening, been praying simultaneously to the same end!
3) As some Christians begin to yearn for a manifestation of God’s power, a leader or leaders arise with prophetic insights into the causes and remedies ...