An Hour With George Mueller
An Hour With George Mueller The Man of Faith to Whom God Gave Millions
Charles R. Parsons
Pastor Charles R. Parsons describes an hour’s interview with George Mueller toward the close of his life:
A warm summer day found me slowly walking up the shady groves of Ashley Hill, Bristol. At the top there met my gaze the immense buildings which shelter over two thousand orphans, built by a man who has given to the world the most striking object lesson in faith it has ever seen.The first house was on the right, and there among his own people, in plain, unpretentious apartments, lived the saintly patriarch, George Mueller. Passing the lodge gate, I paused a moment to look at House No. 3, one of the five erected at a cost of $600,000. The bell was answered by an orphan who conducted me up a lofty stone staircase and into one of the private rooms of the venerable founder of that great institution. Mr. Mueller had attained the remarkable age of ninety- one. As I stood in his presence, veneration filled my mind. “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man” (Lev. 19:32).
He received me with a cordial handshake and bade me welcome. It is something merely to see a man by whom God has accomplished a mighty work: it is more to hear the tones of his voice; far greater than either is the privilege of being brought into immediate contact with his spirit and of feeling the warm breath of his soul breathed into one’s own. The communion of that hour will be graven on my memory while life shall last. This servant of the Most High opened his heart to me, counseled me, prayed with me, and gave me his blessing. In that hour the source of George Mueller’s great spiritual strength was clearly made manifest. The aged saint with all his faculties unimpaired, was eloquent the whole time on one theme, the praise of Jehovah, the great Hearer and Answerer of His people’s prayers. My own words were few.
“You have always found the Lord faithful to His promise, Mr. Mueller?”
“Always! He has never failed me! For nearly seventy years every need in connection with this work has been supplied. The orphans from the first until now have numbered nine thousand five hundred, but they have never wanted a meal. Hundreds of times we have commenced the day without a penny, but our Heavenly Father has sent supplies the moment they were actually required. There never was a time when we had no wholesome meal. During all these years I have been enabled to trust in the living God alone. In answer to prayer $7,500,000 have been sent to me. We have needed as much as $200,000 in one year, and it has all come when needed. No man can ever say I asked him for a penny. We have no committees, no collectors, no voting, and no endowment. All has come in answer to believing prayer. God has many ways of moving the hearts of men all over the world to help us. While I am praying He speaks to one and another on this continent and on that to send us help. Only the other evening, while I was preaching, a gentleman wrote a check for a large amount and handed it to me when the service was over.”
“I have read your life, Mr. Mueller, and noted how greatly your faith has been tried at times. Is it so now?”
“My faith is tried as much as ever, and my difficulties are greater than ever. Besides our financial responsibilities, suitable helpers have to be found constantly, and suitable places provided for hundreds of orphans constantly leaving the homes. Then often our funds run very low. Only the other week we had come nearly to the end of our supplies. I called my beloved helpers together and said to them, ‘Pray, brethren, pray!’ Immediately five hundred dollars was sent us, then a thousand, and in a few days seven thousand five hundred came in. But always we have to be praying, always believing. Oh, it is good to trust in the living God, for He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ (Heb. 13:5). Expect great things from God, and great things you will have. There is no limit to what He is able to do. Praises forever to His glorious name! Praise Him for everything! I have praised Him many times when He sent me ten cents, and I have praised Him when He has sent me sixty thousand dollars.”
“I suppose you have never contemplated a reserve fund?”
“To do so would be an act of the greatest folly. How could I pray if I had reserves? God would say, ‘Bring out those reserves, George Mueller.’ Oh no, I never thought of such a thing. Our reserve fund is in Heaven. The living God is our sufficiency. I have trusted Him for one dollar, I have trusted Him for thousands, and never trusted in vain. ‘Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him’” (Ps. 34:8).
“Of course you have never thought of saving for yourself?”
Not easily nor soon shall I forget the dignified manner in which I was answered by this mighty man of faith. Hitherto he had been sitting opposite me with his knees close to mine, his hands clasped, his eyes betokening a calm, quiet, meditative spirit. Most of the time he had leaned forward, his gaze directed on the floor. But now he sat erect, and for several moments searched my face, with an earnestness that seemed to penetrate my very soul. There was a grandeur and majesty about those undimmed eyes, so accustomed to spiritual visions and to looking into the deep things of God. I do not know whether the question sounded to him as a sordid one, or whether it touched a lingering remnant of “the old self” to which he alludes in his discourses. In any event, there was not a shadow of doubt but that it roused his whole being.
After a brief pause, during which his face was a sermon and the depths of his clear eyes flashed fire, he unbuttoned his coat and drew from his pocket an old-fashioned purse with rings in the middle separating the character of the coins. Placing it in my hands he said quietly, “All I am possessed of is in that purse—every penny! Save for myself? Never! When money is sent to me for my own use, I pass it on to God. As much as five thousand dollars has thus been sent at one time; but I do not regard such gifts as belonging to me; they belong to Him, whose I am and whom I serve. Save for myself? I dare not save; it would dishonor my loving, gracious, all-bountiful Father.” I handed the purse back to Mr. Mueller. He told me the sum it contained, and what he himself had given to the Orphanage and the Scripture Knowledge Institution. These matters, however, together with a few others, I am not at liberty to disclose.
There was a glow of holy enthusiasm in the face of this aged, faithful man as he related some of the incidents pertaining to his preaching tours in forty-two different countries* and how in traveling from place to place—in some instances thousands of miles apart—his every need had been supplied. Hundreds of thousands of men and women of almost every nation had come to hear him, and his great themes were the simple message of salvation and the encouragement of believers to trust in the living God. He told me that he prayed more about his sermons than anything else and that often the text was not given him until he had ascended the pulpit stairs, although he had been praying for it all week.
I asked him if he spent much time on his knees.
“Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer; I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise. And the answers are always coming. Tens of thousands of times my prayers have been answered. When once I am persuaded a thing is right, I go on praying for it until the end comes. I never give up!” *Mr. Mueller began his travels when he was 70 and continued until he was 87 (from 1875 to 1892). These words were spoken in an exulting tone. There was a ring of triumph in them, and the man’s countenance was aglow with holy joy. He had risen from his seat while uttering them and had walked around to the side of the table.
“In answer to my prayers, thousands of souls have been saved,” he went on. “I shall meet tens of thousands of them in heaven.” There was another pause. I made no remark, and he continued: “The great point is to never give up until the answer comes. I have been praying every day for fifty-two years for two men, sons of a friend of my youth. They are not converted yet, but they will be! How can it be otherwise? There is the unchanging promise of Jehovah, and on that I rest. The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer; they do not go on praying; they do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it. “Oh, how good, kind, gracious, and condescending is the One with whom we have to do! He has given me, unworthy as I am, immeasurably above all I have asked or thought! I am only a poor, frail, sinful man, but He has heard my prayers tens of thousands of times and used me as the means of bringing tens of thousands of souls into the way of truth in this and other lands. These unworthy lips have proclaimed salvation to great multitudes, and very many people have believed unto eternal life.”
I asked Mr. Mueller whether when he first began the work he had any idea whereunto it would grow.
After speaking of its commencement in Wilson Street, he answered, “I only knew that God was in it and was leading His child into untried and untrodden paths. The assurance of His presence was my stay.”
“I cannot help noticing the way you speak of yourself,” I said, conscious that I was approaching a subject at once tender, sacred, and closely allied with his deepest spiritual moods and personal relationship to God, and I half reproached myself as soon as the words were uttered.
He disarmed my fears by exclaiming, “There is only one thing I deserve, and that is Hell! I tell you, my brother, that is the only thing I deserve. By nature I am a lost man, but I am sinner saved by the grace of God. Though by nature a sinner, I do not live in sin. I hate sin; I hate it more and more, and love holiness more and more.”
“I suppose through all these long years in your work for God, you have met with much to discourage you,” I said.
“I have met with many discouragements, but at all times my confidence has been in God,” was the reply. “On the word of Jehovah’s promise my soul rested! Oh, it is good to trust in Him; His Word never returns void! ‘He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength’ (Isaiah 40: 29). This applies also to my public ministrations. Sixty-two years ago I preached a poor, dry, barren sermon with no comfort to myself and, as I imagined, with no comfort to others. But a long time afterwards I heard of nineteen distinct cases of blessing resulting from that sermon.”
I told him a few of the things that had discouraged me, and I expressed a hope to be used more of God than ever. “And you will be used of God, my brother,” he exclaimed. “God Himself will bless you! Toil on!”
“May I venture to ask you to give me a word of special counsel in regard to my own work for God,” I asked, “that I may pass it on to other Christian toilers in the great harvest field of souls?”
“Seek to depend entirely on God for everything,” he answered. “Put yourself and your work into His hands. When thinking of any new undertaking, ask, Is this agreeable to the mind of God? Is it for His glory? If it is not for His glory, it is not for your good, and you must have nothing to do with it. Mind that! Having settled that a certain course is for the glory of God, begin it in His name and continue in it to the end. Undertake it in prayer and faith, and never give up! “And do not regard iniquity in your heart. If you do, the Lord will not hear you. Keep that before you always. Then trust in God. Depend only on Him. Wait on Him. Believe on Him. Expect great things from Him. Faint not if the blessing tarries. And above all, rely only on the merits of our adorable Lord and Saviour, so that according to them and to nothing of your own, the prayers you offer and the work you do be accepted.” I had no word of answer. What was there to say? My eyes were filled with tears, and my heart was overflowing, and besides—There was the speechless awe that dared not move, And all the silent heaven of love.
From another room Mr. Mueller fetched a copy of his life, in which he inscribed my name. His absence afforded me an opportunity of looking around the apartment. The furniture was of the plainest description, useful and in harmony with the man of God who had been talking to me. It is a great principle with George Mueller that it does not become the children of God to be ostentatious in style, appointment, dress, or manner of living. He believes that expensiveness and luxury are not seemly in those who are the professed disciples of the meek and lowly One who had no place to lay His head. On a desk lay an open Bible of clear type without notes or references. This, I thought, is the abode of the mightiest man, spiritually considered, of modern times—a man especially raised up to show to a cold, calculating, selfish age the realities of the things of God and to teach the Church how much she might gain if only she were wise enough to take hold of the omnipotent arm of God.
I had been with this prince of prayer one whole hour, and only once had there come a knock at his door. It was opened by Mr. Mueller, and there stood one of his orphans—one of the largest family on earth—a fair-haired girl. “My dear,” said he, “I cannot attend to you just now. Wait awhile and I will see you.” Thus was I privileged to remain uninterrupted with this man of faith, this prevailer with God, this traveler of ninety-one years along life’s rough pilgrimage—a man who, like Moses, talks to God as a man talketh to his friend. To me it was as one of the hours of Heaven come down to earth.
His prayer was short and simple. Going to his knees he said, “O Lord, bless this dear servant now before Thee more and more, more and more, more and more! And do Thou graciously guide his pen in what he may write in regard to this Thy work and our conversation today. I ask it through the merits of Thy dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!”
George Mueller’s Life and Work
The writer of the foregoing interview furnishes the following particulars concerning the life of George Mueller: The Founder of the Ashley Down Orphanage, Bristol, England, was born in Prussia, September 17, 1805. In his young manhood he lived a godless life, but at the age of twenty-one he was suddenly converted to God at a prayer meeting held in the house of a pious tradesman. Shortly afterwards he came to England, bringing with him no letters of introduction, no money, no name, no recommendations, and only a very imperfect knowledge of the English language. What, then, did he bring? He brought God with him. Shortly after landing, he wrote in his journal, “My whole life shall be one service for the living God.” His principles were deeply rooted in the Holy Scriptures, and he adhered to them through the course of his long life. He never asked help from anyone and never hinted that help was needed. Solely in answer to believing prayer more than a million and a half sterling, ($7,500,000) was sent to him for the building and maintenance of “God’ s Orphanage,” for his missionary enterprises, and for the circulation of the Scriptures.
In his homes ten thousand destitute orphans have been received, trained, educated, and sent out into the world. In his old age he traveled nearly two hundred thousand miles in forty-two countries, preaching the Gospel to three millions of hearers. Having thus served God in his day and generation, his spirit, like that of Moses, was kissed away by the mouth of Jehovah, when all alone in his room, on the early morning of March 10, 1898. His age was ninety-three. “He asked life of Thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever,” (Ps. 21:4).
Answers to Prayer
A few of the many remarkable answers to prayers which George Mueller received during his eventful life as contained in his own narratives, are here recorded.
June 13, 1853—We were now very poor. Not indeed in debt, not even with all the money gone; there was still about sixty dollars in hand; but there was needed to be bought flour, of which we buy generally ten sacks at a time, four thousand two hundred pounds of oatmeal, four hundred-weight of soap. There were many little repairs going on in the house, with a number of workmen employed, besides the regular current expenses of about $280 per week. Over and above all this, on Saturday the day before yesterday, I found that the heating apparatus needed to be repaired, which would, in all probability, cost $100. It was therefore desirable, humanly speaking, to have $500 for these heavy extra expenses. But I had no human prospect whatever of getting even two hundred cents—much less $500.
In addition to this, today was Monday when generally the income is little. But in walking to the Orphan House this morning, and praying as I went, I particularly told the Lord in prayer, that on this day, though Monday, He could send me much. And thus it was, I received this morning $1500 for the Lord’s service, as might be most needed. The joy which I had cannot be described. I walked up and down in my room for a long time, tears of joy and gratitude to the Lord raining plentifully over my cheeks, praising and magnifying the Lord for His goodness, and surrendering myself afresh, with all my heart, to Him for His blessed service. I scarcely ever felt more the kindness of the Lord helping me.
Sept. 30, 1868—From Yorkshire $250. Received also $5000 today for the Lord’s work in China. About this donation it is especially to be noted, that for months it had been my earnest desire to do more than ever for mission work in China, and I had already taken steps to carry out my desire, when this donation came to hand. This precious answer to prayer for means should be a particular encouragement to all who are engaged in the Lord’s work, and who may need means for it. It proves afresh that, if our work is His work, and we honor Him by waiting upon and looking to Him for means, He will surely, in His own time and way, supply them.
The joy which answers to prayer give, cannot be described, and the impetus which they afford to the spiritual life is exceeding great. The experience of this happiness I desire for all my Christian readers. If you indeed believe in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of your soul; if you walk uprightly and do not regard iniquity in your heart; if you continue to wait patiently, and believingly upon God, such answers will surely be given to your prayers. You may not be called upon to serve the Lord in the way the writer does, and therefore may never have answers to prayer respecting such things as are recorded here; but in your various circumstances, your family, your business, your profession, your church activities, your labor for the Lord, you may have answers as distinct as any here recorded.
Sept. 4, 1869—Only one cent was in my hands this morning, Pause a moment, dear reader! Only one cent in hand when the day commenced! Think of this, and think of nearly fourteen hundred persons to be provided for. You, poor brethren, who have six or eight children and small wages, think of this; and you, my brethren who do not belong to the working classes, but have as it is called, very limited means, think of this! May you not do, what we do, under your trials? Does the Lord love you less than He loves us? Does He not love all His children with no less love than that with which He loves His only begotten Son, according to John 17:20-23? Or are we better than you? ... Well, let us hear then, how God helped when there was only one cent left in my hands, on the morning referred to.
Shortly after nine o’clock I received $5.00 from a sister in the Lord, who does not wish the name of the place where she resides mentioned. Between ten and eleven o’clock the bag was sent from the Orphan Houses, in which a note stated that nearly $6.00 was required for today. Scarcely had I read this when a carriage stopped before my house, and a gentleman, from the neighborhood of Manchester, was announced. I found that he was a believer, who had come on business to Bristol. He had heard about the Orphan Houses, and expressed his surprise that without any regular system of collections, and without personal application to anyone, simply by faith and prayer, I obtained more than $10,000 annually for the work of the Lord in my hands. This brother, whom I had never seen before, and whose name I did not even know before he came, gave me $10.00, as an exemplification of what I had stated to him.
July 28, 1874— “It has for months appeared to me, as if the Lord meant, by His dealings with us, to bring us back to that state of things, in which we were for more than ten years, from August, 1838, to April, 1849, when we had day by day, almost without interruption, to look to Him for our daily supplies, and for a great part of the time, from meal to meal. The difficulties appeared to me indeed very great, as the institution is now twenty times larger than it was then, and our purchases are to be made in a wholesale way; but at the same time, I am comforted by the knowledge that God is aware of all this, and that if this way be for the glory of His name, and for the good of His church and the unconverted world, I am, by His grace, willing to go this way, and to do it to the end of my course. The funds were thus fast expended; but God, our infinitely rich Treasurer, remains to us. It is this which gives me peace.
“If it pleases Him with a work requiring about $222,000 a year, to make me do again at the evening of my life, what I did from August, 1838, to April, 1849, I am not only prepared for it, but gladly again would I pass through all these trials of faith, with regard to means, if He only might be glorified, and His church and the world be benefited. Often and often this last point has of late passed through my mind, and I have placed myself in the position of having no means at all left, and two thousand one hundred persons not only at the table, but with everything else to be provided for, and all funds gone; one hundred and eighty-nine missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred schools, with about nine thousand scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means for them in hand; about four millions of tracts and tens of thousands of copies of the Holy Scriptures yearly have to be sent out, and all the money expended. Invariably, however, with this probability before me, I have said to myself: God, who has raised up this work through me, God who has led me generally year after year, to enlarge it, God who has supported this work now for more than forty years, will still help and will not suffer me to be confounded, because I rely upon Him, I commit the whole work to Him, and He will provide me with what I need in the future also, though I know not whence the means are to come.”
Samuel Chadwick in his most inspiring book, The Path of Prayer, relates an occasion when Dr. A. T. Pierson was the guest of George Mueller at his orphanage. He says: “One night when all the household had retired he [Mueller] asked Pierson to join him in prayer. He told him that there was absolutely nothing in the house for next morning’s breakfast. My friend tried to remonstrate with him and to remind him that all the stores were closed. Mueller knew all that. He had prayed as he always prayed, and he never told anyone of his needs but God. They prayed—at least Mueller did—and Pierson tried to.
They went to bed and slept, and breakfast for two thousand children was there in abundance at the usual breakfast hour. Neither Mueller nor Pierson ever knew how the answer came. The story was told next morning to Simon Short of Bristol, under pledge of secrecy until the benefactor died. The details of it are thrilling, but all that need be told here is that the Lord called him out of bed in the middle of the night to send breakfast to Mueller’s orphanage, and knowing nothing of the need, or of the two men at prayer, he sent provisions that would feed them a month. This is like the Lord God of Elijah, and still more like the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Charles Inglis, the well-known evangelist, relates the following remarkable incident: “When I first came to America thirty-one years ago, I crossed the Atlantic with the captain of a steamer who was one of the most devoted men I ever knew; and when we were off the banks of Newfoundland he said to me: ‘Mr. Inglis, the last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, one of the most extraordinary things happened that has completely revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. Up to that time I was one of your ordinary Christians. We had a man of God on board, George Mueller, of Bristol. I had been on that bridge for twenty-two hours and never left it. I was startled by someone tapping me on the shoulder. It was George Mueller.
“‘Captain,’ said he, ‘I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.’ This was Wednesday. “‘It is impossible,’ I said. “‘Very well, if your ship can’t take me God will find some other means of locomotion to take me. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years.’ “‘I would willingly help you, but how can I? I am helpless.’ “‘Let us go down to the chart room and pray,’ he said.
“I looked at this man and I thought to myself, ‘What lunatic asylum could the man have come from? I never heard of such a thing.’ “‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you know how dense this fog is?’ “‘No,’ he replied, ‘my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.’ “He went down on his knees, and he prayed one of the most simple prayers. I thought to myself, ‘That would suit a children’s class, where the children were not more than eight or nine years of age.’ The burden of his prayer was something like this: ‘O Lord, if it is consistent with Thy will, please remove this fog in five minutes. You know the engagement You made for me in Quebec for Saturday. I believe it is Your will.’
“When he had finished, I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. “First,’ he said, ‘you do not believe God will do it; and, second, I believe He has done it. And there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’ “I looked at him, and George Mueller said this: ‘Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day that I have failed to gain an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog is gone.’ I got up, and the fog wasgone. On Saturday afternoon George Mueller was in Quebec.”
Real Faith by George Mueller
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. .”—HEBREWS 11:1, 3.
First: What is faith? In the simplest manner in which I am able to express it, I answer: Faith is the assurance that the thing which God has said in His Word is true, and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence is faith.
No impressions are to be taken in connection with faith. Impressions have neither one thing nor the other to do with faith. Faith has to do with the Word of God. It is not impressions, strong or weak, which will make any difference. We have to do with the written Word and not ourselves or our impressions.
Probabilities are not to be taken into account. Many people are willing to believe regarding those things that seem probable to them. Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The province of faith begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. A great many of God’s children are cast down and lament their want of faith. They write to me and say that they have no impressions, no feeling, they see no probability that the thing they wish will come to pass. Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is—whether God has spoken it in His Word.
And now, my beloved friends, you are in great need to ask yourselves whether you are in the habit of thus confiding, in your inmost soul, in what God has said, and whether you are in earnest in seeking to find whether the thing you want is in accordance with what He has said in His Word.
Secondly: How faith may be increased.
God delights to increase the faith of His children. Our faith, which is feeble at first, is developed and strengthened more and more by use. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hand as a means. I say—and say it deliberately—trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.
I get letters from so many of God’s dear children who say: “Dear Brother Mueller: I’m writing this because I am so weak and feeble in faith.” Just so surely as we ask to have our faith strengthened, we must feel a willingness to take from God’s hand the means for strengthening it. We must allow Him to educate us through trials and bereavements and troubles. It is through trials that faith is exercised and developed more and more. God affectionately permits difficulties, that He may develop unceasingly that which He is willing to do for us, and to this end we should not shrink, but if He gives us sorrow and hindrances and losses and afflictions, we should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.
The Church of God is not aroused to see God as the beautiful and lovable One He is, and hence the littleness of blessedness. Oh, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, seek to learn for yourselves, for I cannot tell you the blessedness! In the darkest moments I am able to confide in Him, for I know what a beautiful and kind and lovable Being He is, and, if it be the will of God to put us in the furnace, let Him do it, that so we may acquaint ourselves with Him as He will reveal Himself, and that we may know Him better. We come then to the conclusion that God is a lovable Being, and we are satisfied with Him, and say: “It is my Father, let Him do as He pleases.”
When I first began to allow God to deal with me, relying on Him, taking Him at His word, and set out fifty years ago simply relying on Him for myself, family, taxes, traveling expenses and every other need, I rested on the simple promises I found in the sixth chapter of Matthew. I believed the Word, I rested on it and practiced it. I took God at His Word. A stranger, a foreigner in England, I knew seven languages and might have used them perhaps as a means of remunerative employment, but I had consecrated myself to labor for the Lord, I put my reliance in the God who has promised, and He has acted according to His Word. I’ve lacked nothing—nothing. I have had my trials and difficulties, and my purse empty, but my receipts have aggregated. I have received thousands and thousands of dollars, while the work has gone on these fifty-one years. Then, with regard to my pastoral work; for the past fifty-one years I have had great difficulties, great trials and perplexities. There will always be difficulties, always trials. But God has sustained me out of them, and the work has gone on.
Now, this is not, as some have said, because I am a man of great mental power, or endowed with energy and perseverance—these are not the reasons. It is because I have confided in God; because I have sought God, and He has cared for the Institution, which, under His direction, has one hundred schools, with masters and mistresses, and other departments of which I have told you before.
I do not carry the burden. And now in my seventy-sixth year, I have physical strength and mental vigor for as much work as when I was a young man in the university studying and preparing Latin orations. I am just as vigorous as at that time. How comes this? Because in the last half-century of labor I’ve been able with the simplicity of a child, to rely upon God. I have had my trials, but I have laid hold upon God, and so it has come to pass that I have been sustained. It is not only permission, but positive command that He gives, to cast the burdens upon Him. Oh, let us do it! My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Ps. 55:22). Day by day I do it. This morning sixty matters in connection with the church of which I am pastor, I brought before the Lord, and thus it is, day by day I do it, and year by year; ten years, thirty years, forty years.
Do not, however, expect to obtain full faith at once. All such things as jumping into full exercise of faith in such things I discountenance. I do not believe in it. I do not believe in it, I do not believe in it and I wish you plainly to understand I do not believe in it. All such things go on in a natural way. The little I did obtain I did not obtain all at once. All this I say particularly, because letters come to me full of questions from those who seek to have their faith strengthened. Begin over again, staying your soul in the Word of God, and you will have an increase of your faith as you exercise it.
One thing more. Some say, “Oh, I shall never have the gift of faith Mr. Mueller has got.” This is a mistake— it is the greatest error—there is not a particle of truth in it. My faith is the same kind of faith that all God’s children have had. It is the same kind that Simon Peter had, and all Christians may obtain the like faith. My faith is their faith, though there may be more of it because my faith has been a little more developed by exercise than theirs; but their faith is precisely the faith I exercise, only, with regard to degree, mine may be more strongly exercised.
Now, my beloved brothers and sisters, begin in a little way. At first, I was able to trust the Lord for $10.00, then for $100, then for $1000 and now, with the greatest ease, I could trust Him for $1,000,000 if there was occasion. But first, I should quietly, carefully, deliberately examine and see whether what I was trusting for, was something in accordance with His promises in His written Word. If I found it was, the amount of difficulties would be no hindrance to my trust. Fifty-one years, and God has never failed me! Trust Him for yourselves and find how true to His Word He is.
Five Conditions of Prevailing Prayer
1.—Entire dependence upon the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only ground of any claim for blessing. (See John 14:13,14; 15:16 etc.)
2.—Separation from all known sin. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us, for it would be sanctioning sin. (Ps. 66:18.)
3.—Faith in God’s word of promise as confirmed by His oath. Not to believe Him is to make Him both a liar and a perjurer. (Heb. 11:6; 6:13-20.)
4.—Asking in accordance with His will. Our motives must be godly: we must not seek any gift of God to consume it upon our lusts (I John 5:14; James 4:3.)
*For these three appendices see “Answers to Prayer from George Mueller’s Narratives” Moody Press, Chicago 10, Illinois.
5.—Importunity in supplication. There must be waiting on God and waiting for God, as the husbandman has long patience to wait for the harvest. (James 5:7; Luke 18:1-8.)
The Careful and Consecutive Reading of the Holy Scriptures
Concerning this subject Mr. Mueller says: “I fell into the snare, into which so many young believers fall, the reading of religious books in preference to the Scriptures. I could no longer read French and German novels, as I had formerly done, to feed my carnal mind; but still I did not put into the room of those books the best of all books. I read tracts, missionary papers, sermons, and biographies of godly persons. The last kind of books I found more profitable than others, and had they been well selected, or had I not read too much of such writings, or had any of them tended particularly to endear the Scriptures to me, they might have done me much good—I never had been at any time in my life in the habit of reading the Holy Scriptures.
When under fifteen years of age, I occasionally read a little of them at school; afterwards God’s precious Book was entirely laid aside, so that I never read one single chapter of it, as far as I remember, till it pleased God to begin a work of grace in my heart. Now the Scriptural way of reasoning would have been: God himself has condescended to become an author and I am ignorant about that precious Book, which His Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of His servants, and it contains that which I ought to know, and the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness; therefore I ought to read again and again this most precious Book, this Book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation; and in this practice I ought to continue all the days of my life.
For I was aware, though I read it but little, that I knew scarcely anything of it. But instead of acting thus, and being led by my ignorance of the Word of God to study it more, my difficulty in understanding it, and the little enjoyment I had in it, made me careless of reading it (for much prayerful reading of the Word, gives not merely more knowledge, but increases the delight we have in reading it); and thus, like many believers, I practically preferred, for the first four years of my divine life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the living God. The consequence was, that I remained a babe, both in knowledge and grace. In knowledge I say; for all true knowledge must be derived by the Spirit, from the Word. And as I neglected the Word, I was for nearly four years so ignorant, that I did not clearly know even the fundamental points of our holy faith. And this lack of knowledge most sadly kept me back from walking steadily in the ways of God. For it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:31, 32) by delivering us from the slavery of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. The Word proves it; and also my own experience most decidedly proves it. For when it pleased the Lord in August, 1829 to bring me really to the Scriptures, my life and walk became very different. And though even since that I have very much fallen short of what I might and ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have been enabled to live much nearer to Him than before.
“If any believers read this, who practically prefer other books to the Holy Scriptures, and who enjoy the writings of men much more than the Word of God, may they be warned by my loss. I shall consider this book to have been the means of doing much good, should it please the Lord, through its instrumentality, to lead some of His people no longer to neglect the Holy Scriptures, but to give them that preference, which they have hitherto bestowed on the writings of men. My dislike to increase the number of books would have been sufficient to deter me from writing these pages, had I not been convinced, that this is the only way in which the brethren at large may be benefited through my mistakes and errors, and been influenced by the hope, that in answer to my prayers, the reading of my experience may be the means of leading them to value the Scriptures more highly, and to make them the rule of all their actions. . . .
“If anyone should ask me, how he may read the Scriptures most profitably, I would advise him, that:
I. Above all he should seek to have it settled in his own mind, that God alone, by His Spirit, can teach him, and that therefore, as God will be inquired of for blessings, it becomes him to seek God’s blessing previous to reading, and also while reading.
II. He should have it, moreover, settled in his mind, that, although the Holy Spirit is the best and sufficient teacher, yet that this teacher does not always teach immediately when we desire it, and that, therefore, we may have to entreat Him again and again for the explanation of certain passages; but that He will surely teach us at last, if indeed we are seeking for light prayerfully, patiently, and with a view to the glory of God.
III. It is of immense importance for the understanding of the word of God, to read it in course, so that we may read every day a portion of the Old and a portion of the New Testament, going on where we previously left off. This is important because:
(1) It throws light upon the connection; and a different course, according to which one habitually selects particular chapters, will make it utterly impossible ever to understand much of the Scriptures.
(2) Whilst we are in the body, we need a change even in spiritual things; and this change the Lord has graciously provided in the great variety which is to be found in His word.
(3) It tends to the glory of God for the leaving out some chapters here and there is practically saying, that certain portions are better than others; or, that there are certain parts of revealed truth unprofitable or unnecessary.
(4) It may keep us, by the blessing of God, from erroneous views, as in reading thus regularly through the Scriptures we are led to see the meaning of the whole, and also kept from laying too much stress upon certain favorite views.
(5) The Scriptures contain the whole revealed will of God, and therefore we ought to seek to read from time to time through the whole of that revealed will. There are many believers, I fear, in our day, who have not read even once through the whole of the Scriptures; and yet in a few months, by reading only a few chapters every day they might accomplish it.
IV. It is also of the greatest importance to meditate on what we read, so that perhaps a small portion of that which we have read, or, if we have time, the whole may be meditated upon in the course of the day. Or a small portion of a book, or an epistle, or a gospel, through which we go regularly for meditation, may be considered every day, without, however, suffering oneself to be brought into bondage by this plan.
“Learned commentaries I have found to store the head, with many notions and often also with the truth of God; but when the Spirit teaches, through the instrumentality of prayer and meditation, the heart is affected. The former kind of knowledge generally puffs up, and is often renounced, when another commentary gives a different opinion, and often also is found good for nothing, when it is to be carried out into practice. The latter kind of knowledge generally humbles, gives joy, leads us nearer to God, and is not easily reasoned away; and having been obtained from God, and thus having entered into the heart, and become our own, is also generally carried out.”
Appendix C: How I Ascertain the Will of God
1. I SEEK AT THE BEGINNING to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
2. HAVING DONE THIS, I do not leave the result to feeling of simple impression. If I do so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
3. I SEEK THE WILL of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
4. NEXT I TAKE into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
5. I ASK GOD in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
6. THUS, THROUGH PRAYER to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.
In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.