"... there are two main groups. There is a group that always talk about revival and only about revival. They are only interested in the exceptional and the unusual and they tend to 'despise the day of small beginnings', the regular work of the church and the regular work of the Spirit in the church. The other group so emphasize the ordinary, regular work of the church and of the Spirit in the church, that they distrust the whole notion of the unusual and the exceptional. The answer is of course that both are wrong. Let me quote from Buchanan on The Office and work of the Holy Spirit. [written in 1856]...
'The Holy Spirit is not limited to any one mode of operation in the execution of His glorious work; and His sovereignty ought ever to be remembered when we consider a subject of this nature... the former have given a too exclusive preference to what is extraordinary and striking; while the latter have fallen into the opposite error, of preferring what is more usual and quiet. We think it were better to admit to both methods of conversion and to leave the choice to the sovereign wisdom and grace of the Spirit...'
' We have been so much accustomed to look to the more slow, and quiet, and gradual method of maintaining and extending the kingdom of Christ, that we apt to be startled, and even to listen with some degree of incredulous surprise, when we hear of any sudden and general work of the Holy Spirit.'
God does it at the most unexpected times. You never know when He is going to do it; there is always a suddenness and unexpectedness about it... nothing so shows the irresistible character of grace as revival...
The conclusion of the matter is this: that we are called at this moment above everything else to pray for revival. God forbid that we should become a body of people who just denounce activism and do nothing! That has been said about some of us. God forbid it should be true!
What then are we called upon to do? We are called upon to go on with our regular work of preaching the gospel in all its fulness, in all its wholeness... Let us do everything we can by every biblical and legitimate means to propagate and to defend the faith. Let us use our apologetics in their right sphere. Let us do all that, and let us go on with the work of reformation in which we are engaged; but let us at the same time maintain the balance of which we were reminded by Buchanan. Let us pray for revival, because nothing else will avail us in the fight in which we are engaged. Thank God our efforts are producing results, and far be it from any of us to despise them or underestimate them; but it is not enough. The age in which we are living and the condition of the church not to mention the world, call for a mighty conviction of the sovereignty of God, the absolute necessity of the work of the Spirit, and these various other points I have been trying to emphasize. And that means that nothing less than revival is needed."
Quoted from Dr D.M. Loyd-Jones: The Puritans. The Banner of Truth Trust. qoutes from pg 15 - 20