What is missing in multitudes of churches today is the thing most needed by the lost: genuine, soul-satisfying joy.
I often hear Christians say, “We prayed down a revival in our church.” But I say that this cannot happen by prayer alone. There can’t be any such awakening unless both the pastor and the people hunger diligently for God’s Word. And they must wholly commit their lives to being governed by the Scriptures. We can’t obtain heaven’s joy until the pure Word has convicted us of sin, breaking down all pride, prejudices and false dignity.
When David disobeyed the directions of the Lord, he lost the joy of the Lord. That joy could only be restored by true repentance and so he prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. . . . Purge me” (Psalm 51:2-3, 7). David also prayed to regain what he had lost: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (verse 12).
I believe this explains the death pall that hangs over many churches today. In short, there is sin in the camp. And it’s impossible to maintain the joy of the Lord if sin is present. How can the Holy Spirit pour out joy on a people who continue to indulge in adultery, addictions and materialism, living like the unsaved?
The Lord lifted His glory from Shiloh because the high priest, Eli, refused to deal with sin in God’s house (1 Samuel 2:22-36). Eli had become accustomed to the easy life—and if you’re addicted to pleasure, you won’t be motivated to expose sin. God finally wrote the word “Ichabod” above the door of the sanctuary, meaning, “The glory has departed.” Then he held up Shiloh as an example of what happens to a church when sin is ignored. God’s glory—including all gladness and joy—dissipates in individuals and in the corporate body.