An Hour With George Müeller, Man of Faith
Note from Randy Alcorn: I've taken the following excerpts from an excellent booklet, An Hour With George Müeller, The Man of Faith to Whom God Gave Millions, edited by A. Sims. Printed by Chapel Library, A Ministry of Mt. Zion Bible Church, Pensacola, FL
Pastor Charles R. Parsons describes an hour's interview with George Müeller 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 Müeller. 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. Müeller 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 Müeller'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. Müeller?"
"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."
"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 for ever 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 Müeller.' 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?"
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 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!"
"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."
"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!
"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."
Testaments of George Müeller's Faith
Samuel Chadwick in his must inspiring book, The Path of Prayer, relates an occasion when Dr. A. T. Pierson was the guest of George Müeller at his orphanages:
"One night when all the household had retired he [Müeller] 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. Müeller knew all that. He had prayed as he always prayed, and he never told anyone of his needs but God. They prayed—at least Müeller 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 Müeller 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 Müeller's orphanage, and knowing nothing of the need, or of the two men at prayer, he sent provisions that would feed them a month.
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 there, 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 Müeller, 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 Müeller.
"'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. Müeller,' 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 Müeller 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 was gone. On Saturday afternoon George Müeller was in Quebec."