Charles Finney, in his autobiography, provides excellent details on the many revivals that followed him as he ministered in New York in his early years as an evangelist. Yet while he does credit the message itself, he never falls into the trap of thinking the results came purely through man’s efforts. Prayer, he asserts, is the key to success:
If anything occurred that threatened to mar the work, if there was any appearance of any root of bitterness springing up, or any tendency to fanaticism or disorder, Christians would take the alarm, and give themselves to prayer that God would direct and control all things; and it was surprising to see, to what extent, and by what means, God would remove obstacles out of the way, in answer to prayer.
In regard to my own experience, I will say that unless I had the spirit of prayer I could do nothing. If even for a day or an hour I lost the spirit of grace and supplication, I found myself unable to preach with power and efficiency, or to win souls by personal conversation.
So Finney offers a corrective to all of us who are tempted to move forward in our own strength alone. Without prayer, the Spirit of God is hampered in the work of spreading His truth. We need to do both: speak the truth and pray that God will back up the words we say with His power.