George Muller, the great nineteenth-century English preacher, fed over 10,000 orphans during his lifetime — on nothing but prayer. Refusing to solicit donations or perform fundraisers, Muller famously found God more than sufficient for all the needs of the orphanages as he daily prayed for their provision (read an excellent article here for more on that).
Countless Christians since Muller’s day have discovered there are life lessons to be learned from God’s grace in and through this man’s faithful ministry. Here are just a few, collected from his own journal entries at the time:
On Getting Too Busy for God
As Muller’s ministry began to expand at an exponential rate, he wisely recognized that at times he was so busy that he was simply too busy for God — and that this state of things must be remedied because one cannot do God’s work without God.
In 1837, Muller writes:
September 19. It was particularly impressed on my heart that I need more rest although the ministry may suffer.
September 28. I have for a long time been too busy. Yesterday morning I spent about three hours in the vestry of Gideon chapel in order to rest and pray.
On Delayed Answers to Prayer
Muller’s ministry faced an extended trial at one point, in which the entire operation was literally only making it from one day to the next because their finances were so slim. In the midst of these challenging days in 1838, Muller writes in his journal:
September 17. The trial continues. It is now more trying to our faith each day, but I am sure God will send help, if we wait… My faith was tried because of the long delay of larger sums coming. When I went to the Scriptures for comfort, my soul was greatly refreshed by Psalm 39. I went cheerfully to meet with my dear fellow-laborers for prayer, read them the Psalm, and encouraged them with the precious promises contained in it.
September 18. Now observe how the Lord helped us! A lady from London brought a parcel with money and rented a room next door to the Boys’ Orphan House. This afternoon she brought me the money which amounted to three pounds two shillings and sixpence. We were at the point of selling the things which could be spared, but this morning I asked the Lord to provide for us in another way. The money had been near the Orphan Houses for several days without being given. That proved to me that it was in the heart of God from the beginning to help us. But because He delights in the prayers of His children, He allowed us to pray so long. Our tried faith made the answer much sweeter.
On Cheerful and Sacrificial Giving
On another occasion in 1839, the needs of the orphan ministry were so great, and provision so slim, that Muller actually did gather everything they had that could be sold and was about to take it for that purpose, when suddenly their need was provided in a beautiful way:
August 22. In my morning walk, when I was reminding the Lord of our need, I felt assured that He would send help this day. My assurance sprang from our need, for there seemed no way to get through the day without help being sent. . . In our deep poverty, after I had gathered together a few things for sale, a sister who earns her living by the labor of her hands brought 82 pounds. This sister was convinced that believers in our Lord Jesus should act out His commandments: “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33); “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (Matthew 6:19). Accordingly, she drew her money out of the bank and stocks, 250 pounds, and brought it to me at three different times for the benefit of the orphans… She never expressed the least regret for the step she took, but went on quietly laboring with her hands to earn her daily living.