Way back in August I shared some of JI Packer's thoughts in his foreword for Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway, 1987)—a series of sermons on the subject. I’ve just finished the book. Here’s how The Doctor defines and describes revival:
A period of unusual blessing and activity in the life of the Christian Church. (p99)
The essence of revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together, upon a whole church, upon a number of churches, districts, or perhaps a whole country. That is what is meant by revival. It is, if you like, a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or another term that has often been used is this—an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And the terms are interesting because you see what the people are conscious of is that it is as if something has suddenly come down upon them. The Spirit of God has descended into their midst, God has come down and is amongst them. A baptism, an outpouring, a visitation. And the effect of that is that they immediately become aware of his presence and of his power in a manner that they have never known before. I am talking about Christian people, about church members gathered together as they have done so many times before. Suddenly they are aware of his presence, they are aware of the majesty and the awe of God. The Holy Spirit literally seems to be presiding over the meeting and taking charge of it, and manifesting his power and guiding them, and directing them. That is the essence of revival. (p100)
It is a consciousness of the presence of God the Holy Spirit literally in the midst of the people. …It is all above and beyond the highest experiences in the normal life and working of the Church. Suddenly those present in the meeting become aware that someone has come amongst them, they are aware of a glory, they are aware of a presence. They can not define it, they can not describe it, they can not put it into words, they just know that they have never know anything like this before. Sometimes they describe it as ‘days of heaven on earth’. They really feel that they are in heaven—they have forgotten time, they are beyond that, time has no longer any meaning for them, nor any real existence, they are in a spiritual realm. God has come down amongst them and has filled the place and the people with a sense of his glorious presence. (p306)And consider the results according to Lloyd-Jones
…thousands of people are converted to The Lord Jesus Christ and become true believers. The churches become too small and you have to build larger ones. Men and women crowd in and offer themselves to the ministry, and the gospel spreads in a most astounding manner. 141Very much worth praying for as we celebrate the birth of Our Lord.