"On every occasion of uneasiness, we should retire to prayer, that we may give place to the grace and light of God and then form our resolutions, without being in any pain about what success they may have." John Wesley
‘I am persuaded that we are all more deficient in a spirit of prayer than in any other grace. God loves importunate prayer so much that He will not give us much blessing without it...He loves us and knows that it is a necessary preparation for our receiving the richest blessings that He is waiting and longing to bestow." Adoniram Judson
"I have no doubt that much of our praying fails for lack of persistence. So many of our prayers are said without the fire and strength of perseverance. Persistence is the essence of true praying...men must be in earnest when they kneel at God's footstool...Too often we get fainthearted and quit praying at the point where we ought to begin...our prayers are weak because they are not impassioned by an unfailing and resistless will." E.M. Bounds
"I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me." Jonah the reluctant prophet (Jonah 2:2)
George Muller (pronounced Meuller) operated in complete, absolute, unequivocal faith. Like the modern day missionary to Mexico, Wayne Meyers, Muller walked only in the promises and blessings of God. Throughout his life he mentioned his needs only to God, in private, on his knees. When he entered the ministry, in 1832, he and his wife Mary decided not to accept a salary from the congregation. They wanted to daily depend on the Lord for their needs, and they only accepted unsolicited freewill offerings. Muller joyfully dedicated his "whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith."
What was accomplished was staggering. Of the monies that were given them yearly the Mullers kept $1800.00 for living expenses and gave the rest away. In 1834, Muller founded the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with the goal of aiding Christian schools and missionaries, and distributing Bibles. Not receiving any government support and only accepting unsolicited gifts, this debt-free organization received and disbursed over 3 million dollars by the time of Muller's death. The money primarily was used for building orphanages and distributing over 2 million Bibles and religious texts. Also support for missionaries went out around the world, such as Hudson Taylor and others. Five homes for children were built at the cost of $100,000 (in 1836 dollars) each. In 1871 an article in the London Times stated that since 1836, 23,000 children had been educated in the schools and very many thousands had gone through the orphanages. The article also stated that 275,000 Bibles, 85,000 Testaments and 29,000,000 religious books had been issued and distributed plus the support of 189 missionaries. Muller also traveled around the world, a total of over 200,000 miles, preaching the Gospel of Christ. Through all this he never made requests for financial support , nor did he go into debt. Even the daily cost of the orphanages ( food, medical, furnishings, and utilities) was supplied by prayer and the Word of God, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Muller's journal is full of the amazing ways the Lord directed funds into his ministry. He said he knew some 50,000 specific answers to prayer...requests that he made to God alone. Muller writes in his journal:
"A servant of God has but one Master...it ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honored in that world where his Lord was poor...and despised."
At the time of Muller's death in 1898 God had supplied over $7,500,000 to a man who trusted solely on the Lord and brought every need to Him in prayer. His Legacy throughout the world was that he is remembered "as the man who got things from God."
Born in Prussia on September 27, 1805, Muller was the son of a Prussian tax-collector. George Muller was not always the "inspiration to Christians everywhere." In fact his early life was spent, as he later recalled in "...days of sin." From the age of 10 until 16 Muller could be categorized as a thief, drunk and gambler, and a swindler. Most of his money was ill-gotten by stealing the government tax funds that were in his father's keeping. He would use the money in all sorts of devised methods of sin. The night his mother died he was out playing cards not even aware of her death. He spent the day of her funeral at a tavern with some friends, not shedding a tear. Muller, in his own words remembers that time:
"My time was now spent in studying, reading novels, and indulging, though so young, in sinful practices. Thus it continued until I was fourteen years old, when my mother was suddenly removed. The night she was dying, I not knowing of her illness, was playing cards until two in the morning, and on the next day, being the Lord's day, I went with some of my companions in sin to a tavern, and then, being filled with strong beer, we went about the streets half intoxicated." By the age of sixteen he already had a police record and spent numerous days and nights in jail. He continued to plunge deeper and deeper into sin. Muller says that almost every form of sin was indulged in by him.
Tired of constantly bailing George out of jail his father, not a religious man, decided to send him off to be a clergyman. The clergy, in those days made a good living and George's father hoped that one day his son could support him when he got old. Muller was sent to Cathedral Classical School. According to Ed Reese author of the "Life and Ministry of George Muller" the life of this prodigal didn't change.
"Lutheran church confirmation classes started at this time, and it was the custom for candidates on the eve of confirmation to make a formal confession of their sins to the clergyman in the vestry. Muller used this opportunity to cheat the clergyman of 11/12ths of the fee his father had given him for the cleric. Confirmed the Sunday after Easter, 1820, he was now a religious lost person."
Muller tells us:
"Three or four days before I was confirmed, I was guilty of gross immorality; and the very day before my confirmation, when I was in the vestry with the clergyman to confess my sins (according to the usual practice) ...I defrauded him; for I handed over to him only a twelfth part of the fee my father had given me for him."
About this time his father was transferred out of town and George was left home to study for the ministry. He used this time to defraud villagers who owed his father taxes and used the money to take a trip, staying in expensive hotels and sneaking out after a week without paying the bill. He was eventually caught and spent 24 days behind bars. His father, again, bailed him out and sent him to another school where the discipline was strict. Muller was made to study from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. but drinking and debauchery soon got the best of him. He spent most of his time conniving ways to provide himself with the money for his bad habits. Through all this he was held up as a example of a worthy student to the others, and became proficient in Latin, French, History and German:
"But whilst I was outwardly gaining esteem of my fellow-creatures, I did not care the least about God, but lived secretly in much sin...all this time I had no real sorrow of heart...I cared nothing about the Word of God...Now and then I felt I ought to become a different person, and I tried to amend my conduct, particularly when I went to the Lord's supper, as I used to do twice a year, with the other young men. The day previous to attending that ordinance I used to refrain from certain things, and on the day itself I was serious, and also swore once or twice to God with the emblem of the broken body in my mouth, to become better, thinking that for the oath's sake I should be induced to reform. But after one or two days were over, all was forgotten, and I was as bad as before."
It wasn't long before he entered the University of Halle as a divinity student. While there his sinful living continued and he spent all his money on reckless profane living, pawning what he had or borrowing what he could to supply money for his wasteful living:
"When my money was spent, I pawned my watch and part of my linen and clothes, or borrowed in other ways...I had no sorrow of heart on account of offending God."
It was there at the University that Muller met another detestable miserable "lost Christian" by the name of Beta. Having the same desire for worldly pleasures they plunged into sin together. Muller and Beta came up with a scheme to defraud money from their fellow students. Planning a trip to Switzerland, Muller would book the lodgings and charge the others more than he contracted for and he and Beta would split the substantial sum. Muller had no conscience or scruples. There was even a time, in his younger years, to satisfy his hunger he stole a piece of coarse bread, the only daily allowance of a soldier who was quartered in the same house where he was.
At the University there were about nine hundred divinity students. According to the Lutheran state church, they were all allowed to preach but Muller estimated that not nine of them feared the Lord. A discontent with his life style started growing in Muller's heart, though at the time he had no idea it was the tugging of the Holy Spirit. About this time, November 1825, he was walking with his friend Beta who then began telling him that for the past couple of Saturday evenings he had been to the house of a "real Christian." He went on to say that at the meeting they read the Bible, sang, prayed, and read a printed sermon. Muller's spirit jumped and his heart suddenly yearned to be part of these meetings. He thought "this could be what I was really searching for all my life." Beta was reluctant to take Muller to the meetings, knowing him as a worldly, pleasure-seeking man that would find the meetings not to his liking. Finally after much pleading they would go the next Saturday together.
Describing the meeting, Muller writes:
"We went together in the evening. As I did not know the manners of the brethren...I made an apology for coming. The kind answer of this dear brother I shall never forget. He said: ‘Come as often as you please; house and heart are open to you.' After a hymn was sung they fell upon their knees, and a brother, named Kayser, who afterwards became a missionary to Africa, asked God's blessing on the meeting. This kneeling down made a deep impression upon me for I had never either seen any one on his knees, nor had I ever myself prayed on my knees. He then read a chapter and a printed sermon; for no regular meetings for expounding the Scriptures were allowed in Prussia, except an ordained clergyman was present. At the close we sang another hymn, and then...prayed....When we walked home , I said to Beta, all we have seen...and all our former pleasures, are as nothing in comparison with this evening...That evening was the turning point in my life. The next day, and Monday, and once or twice besides, I went again to the house of this brother, where I read the Scriptures with him and another brother; for it was too long for me to wait until Saturday came again."
Muller had a life-changing experience, "Now my life became very different...my wicked companions were given up; the going to taverns was discontinued; the habitual practice of telling falsehoods was no longer indulged in." He did not become a saint over night but he no longer lived habitually in sin. Now instead of living for the world, "I read the Scriptures, prayed often, loved the brethren, went to church from right motives and stood on the side of Christ, though laughed at by my fellow students." Now at the age of twenty he found the power to break the hold of the world and escape the sins that so easily ensnared him. A new life awaited George Muller.
Before Muller left the University the true believers increased from six to about twenty. They often met in Muller's room to pray, sing, and read the Bible. Muller would sometimes walk ten to fifteen miles to hear a really Spirit anointed minister preach. In Teignmouth, Muller met a spirit-filled preacher who taught him the power of prayer and that the Word of God was the Christian's standard of judgment in spiritual things and it is His Holy Spirit in the person that leads and teaches. Putting what he learned to action, Muller shut himself in his room:
"...to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously."
Muller passed on what he learned to his brethren at the University and "one brother in particular was brought into the same state in which I was; and others I trust, were more or less benefited. He began to have an intensity for intercessory prayer:
"Several times, when I went to my room after family prayer, I found communion with God so sweet that I continued in prayer until after twelve, and then being full of joy, went into the room of the brother just referred to, and finding him also in a similar frame of heart, we continued praying until one or two, and even then I was a few times so full of joy that I could scarcely sleep, and at six in the morning again called the brethren together for prayer."
In his book "How to Pray", R. A Torrey wrote about George Muller:
"When the hour for prayer came, Muller would begin by reading and meditating upon God's word until out of the study of the Word a prayer began to form itself in his heart. Thus God himself was the real author of the prayer, and God answered the prayers which he himself had inspired."
Muller believed that the Holy Spirit lays on one's heart for prayer those who are to be saved. J. Oswald Sanders, in his book "Spiritual Leadership" touched on that principle:
"The very fact that God lays a burden of prayer on our hearts and keeps us praying is prima facie evidence that he purposes to grant the answer. When asked if he really believed that two men for whose salvation he had prayed for over fifty years would be converted, George Muller replied, ‘Do you think God would have kept me praying all these years if He did not intend to save them?' Both men were converted, one shortly before, the other after, Muller's death."
Muller finally decided it was time to "be about the Father's business" and begin a work for the salvation of souls. He became pastor of Ebenezer Chapel, Teignmouth, Devonshire and married a local lady, Miss Mary Groves. Mary had the same spiritual life as did Muller and together they had a happy life. Muller had misgivings about the way ministers were paid and also about being kept by and under the thumb of the congregation when it came to a regular salary. It was common practice for centuries to sell tickets to the congregation for Sunday services. When all the seats were sold the services were closed. By the time Muller became pastor the practice had graduated to pew rental. Muller was adamant that there would be no pew rentals in his church. He felt that the process was "giving the man with the ring on his finger the best seat, and the poorer brother the footstool, and the former was taking money from those who did not give cheerfully or as the Lord had prospered them."
He, therefore, discontinued all pew renting and refused to take a salary. He and Mary decided to rely, from that day on, solely on the Lord for all their needs. They would not even give definite answers to inquiries as to whether or not they were in need of money at any particular moment. At the time of need, God always supplied whether it be in regards to their private income, food, medical expenses and especially funds for the vast projects he would undertake in the next couple of years. No matter how pressing the need Muller simply renewed his prayer and expected God to answer. Muller in his journal relates that never, no matter how trivial the request, was he ever left empty handed. God always answered. Major D. W. Whittle, in an introduction to writings on the wonders of prayer, told this story about George Muller when he was traveling in his later years:
"I met Mr. Muller in the express, the morning of our sailing from Quebec to Liverpool. About half an hour before the tender was to take the passengers to the ship, he asked of the agent if a deck chair had arrived for him from New York. He was answered, ‘No,' and told that it could not possible come in time for the steamer. I had with me a chair I had just purchased, and told Mr. Muller of the place nearby, and suggested, as but a few moments remained, that he had better buy one at once.
His reply was, ‘No my brother. Our heavenly Father will send the chair from New York. It is the one used by Mrs. Muller. I wrote ten days ago to a brother, who promised to see it forwarded here last week. He has not been as prompt, as I would have desired, but I am sure our heavenly Father will send the chair. Mrs. Muller is very sick on the sea, and has particularly desired to have this chair; not finding it here yesterday, we have made a special prayer that our heavenly Father would provide it for us, and we will trust him to do so.'
As this dear man of God went peacefully on board, running the risk of Mrs. Muller making the trip without a chair, when for a couple of dollars, she could have been provided for, I confess I feared Mr. Muller was carrying his faith principles too far and not acting wisely. I was kept at the express office ten minutes after Mr. Muller left. Just as I started to hurry to the wharf, a team of horses drove up the street, and on top of a load just arrived from New York was Mr. Muller's chair.
It was sent at once to the tender and placed in my hands to take to Mr. Muller, just as the boat was leaving the dock (the Lord having a lesson for me). Mr. Muller took it with the happy, pleased expression of a child who had just received a kindness deeply appreciated, and reverently removing his hat and folding his hands over it, he thanked the heavenly Father for sending the chair."
On February 19, 1832, Muller records an instance of healing by faith and prayer. He was told by doctors that he had a gastric ulcer. He simply prayed to God to heal him and four days later he was as well as ever, never to be bothered with stomach problems again. In the spring of 1832, he moved to Bristol and preached his first sermon in that city. There he would live for the remainder of his life. In July of that year, Bristol was attacked by a plague of cholera which took many lives but did not touch anyone in the church where Muller ministered. He and his wife told their needs to no one but the Lord. Occasionally reports were spread that they were starving; but though at times their faith was tried, their income was greater than before. Muller and his wife gave away freely all that they had above their present needs, and trusted the Lord for their "daily bread."
In Bristol, he preached at Gideon and Bethesda Chapels. Without a salary or rented pews his labor was greatly blessed. The membership more than quadrupled in numbers in a short time. Ten days after the opening of Bethesda there was such a crowd of persons inquiring the way to salvation that it took four hours to minister to them. Muller continued, even after he started his other ventures, to minister at that chapel for the rest of his life. At the time of his death he had a congregation of about two thousand.
According to the Christian Biography resources Muller, in 1834, started the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. Its object was to aid Christian day schools, to assist missionaries, and to circulate the Scriptures. This institution, without any worldly donations, without asking anyone for help, without contracting any debts; without subscribers, committees, or memberships; but relying on the sole provision of an Almighty God alone, had obtained and disbursed no less than seven million five-hundred thousand dollars at the time of Mr. Muller's death. The bulk of this was spent for orphanages. At the time of Muller's death 122,000 persons had been taught in the schools provided by the funds; about 282,000 Bibles and 1,500,000 Testaments had been distributed. Also 112,000,000 religious books, pamphlets and tracts had been circulated; missionaries had been aided in all parts of the world; and no less than sixteen thousand orphans had been cared for by means of this same fund. All financed by the Bank of Heaven.
Muller's heart was in building the great orphanages at Bristol. When he started this project he had fifty cents in his pocket; but in answer to prayer and without making his needs known to human beings, he received the means to erect the great buildings and feed the orphans day by day for sixty years. Not once did the children go without a meal. If they ever did Muller would take that as a sign that the Lord did not want that work to continue. Sometimes the meal time was almost at hand and they did not know where the food would come from, but the Lord was always faithful in sending it just in time. By 1870 nearly two thousand children were being cared for daily. Muller prayed in everything, never incurring a debt, God provided everything. Nothing was too small to bring to the Lord in prayer. In his prayers, Muller would confidently set his need and his case before God. He would say, "He is their father, and therefore has pledged Himself, as it were, to provide for them; and I have only to remind Him of the need of these poor children in order to have it supplied.
A well known story indicates the kind of daily situations he faced:
"One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Muller said, ‘Children, you know we must be in time for school.' Lifting his hand he said, ‘Dear Father, we thank thee for what thou art going to give us to eat.' There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, ‘Mr Muller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you did not have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.' Muller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Muller was to travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!"
E.M. Bounds writes:
"The work of George Muller in Bristol, England, was a miracle of the nineteenth century. It will take the opening of the books at the Great Judgment Day to disclose all he brought about through prayer...His practice was always to ask God for just what he needed...He prayed for everything and trusted God implicitly to supply all his needs. He and his orphans never did lack any good thing."
The Christian History Institute states:
"It was this unshakable faith in God's providing hand which made the Bristol orphanages so unique. Some leaders visiting...asked the matron of the home, ‘ Of course you cannot carry these institutions without a good stock of funds...have you a good stock?' The matron quietly replied, ‘ Our funds are deposited in a bank which cannot break.' Tears came to the eyes of the visitors, who all gave donations to the work...a very timely gift because at that moment there were no funds on hand!"
The quality of education in the orphanages was so high that Muller was accused of educating the poor, both boys and girls, beyond their station and robbing the factories and mines of their labor. Boys were kept in their homes until they were fourteen and the girls until they were seventeen. All were trained in some work so that they all had jobs when the left.
In 1870, at the age of 70 and after the death of his first wife and his remarriage to Susannah Grace Sanger, Muller began a 17 year period of missionary and evangelistic travel. George and Susannah traveled over 200,000 miles and preached in 42 countries to over 3 million people. By the way, our heavenly Father picked up the tab.
On January 13, 1894, Susannah passed away after 23 years of marriage. Muller was now 89 years old and living out his days in orphan house # 3. On March 10, 1898 the maid went to his room, and found him dead on the floor beside his bed. The funeral in Bristol has never been surpassed as tens of thousands lined the streets from all over the world.
Of all that he had accomplished Muller was more proud of the fact that he read through the Bible 200 times, half of these times on his knees.
1 John 5:14-15...Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church