Most people pray for clear skies and then pack an umbrella, just in case. Not George Müller.
Müller was a Christian preacher, educator and philanthropist who lived in the 19th century in England. He established and directed a series of homes for orphans and schools for children, eventually caring for more than 10,000 children in his lifetime. Such efforts cost money, of course, but Müller decided early on that he would not draw a salary for himself, would not go into debt and wouldn’t even ask people for money. He decided, instead, to pray.
That’s right. He determined that he would share his needs—and those of his growing, demanding ministry—only with God. When funds were low, he and his staff prayed. When needs were met, they prayed. When people asked about their needs, Müller simply expressed a belief that God would provide. He kept careful accounts, not only to guide his praying but also as an aid to greater faith. His autobiography (The Autobiography of George Müller, Whitaker House 1985) is a record of constant prayer and repeated (often last-minute) answers. The following is typical:
Nothing has come in. At six o’clock this evening, our need was very great in the Orphan Houses and the day schools. I prayed with two of the laborers. We needed some money to come in before eight o’clock tomorrow morning, so that we could buy milk for breakfast. Our hearts were at peace, and we felt assured that our Father would supply our need.
We had scarcely risen from our knees when I received a letter containing a sovereign for the orphans. About five minutes later, a brother promised to give me fifty pounds next week. A quarter of an hour after that, a brother gave me a sovereign, which a sister in the Lord had left for the orphans. How sweet and precious it is to see the willingness of the Lord to answer the prayers of His needy children!
Another time, Müller and the children sat down for a meal, even though there was no food in the house. Nonetheless, they bowed their heads and prayed and, as the prayer ended, someone knocked on the door. It was the baker, with fresh bread. As if that wasn’t enough, the milkman’s cart broke down—in front of the orphanage—so he supplied them with fresh milk.
Müller, his staff and the children lived on daily prayer and cultivated a day-by-day (even hour-by-hour) dependence on God. And their needs were met. In fact, Müller’s ministry grew and, as the needs grew, so did God’s provision.
What would such prayerful dependence on God be like in my life? In yours? Sure, there are times when we cry out to God because of our need, but most of us have created lifestyles and mechanisms for ourselves that foster a sense of independence and insulation from need rather than dependence on God to meet our needs.
But what if you and I prayed like George Müller? What if we “carry everything to God in prayer,” as the hymn says? What if we lived on daily prayer and cultivated a day-by-day (even hour-by-hour) dependence on God? Would we be poorer—or richer? Would our faith falter—or flourish?
There is only one way to find out, of course: by praying like George Müller, exercising our privilege of carrying everything, day by day and moment by moment, to God in prayer.