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What the Autobiography of George Muller Taught Me

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If you’d like a journey of inspiration, pick up the brief Autobiography of George Muller. You’ll find yourself amazed at God and encouraged to pray more.

What I Learned From George Muller's Autobiography

(Photo: George Muller)

More than once, I’ve read the journal of George Muller. I return to it when I need some encouragement to pray and trust God with the impossible.

After my last read, I decided it was time to write down some good takeaways from Muller’s life that I could apply.

I’ll share them with you.

A Simple Goal

After a striking conversion from a life of sin, George Muller became a more striking example of a life of prayer. He almost seems almost surreal. And yet, Muller repeatedly emphasized the normalcy of his experience as one available for anyone who will simply trust God and pray.

George Muller expressed the primary goal of his spiritual life in simple terms:

The primary business I must attend to every day is to fellowship with the Lord. The first concern is not how much I might serve the Lord, but how my inner man might be nourished. I may share the truth with the unconverted; I may try to encourage believers; I may relieve the distressed; or I may, in other ways, seek to behave as a child of God; yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by result in this work being done in a wrong spirit.

Muller also desired to show the reality of Christianity by depending solely on the Lord for his ministry’s every need. While he admits there was nothing wrong with letting other believers know his needs, he preferred to tell them only to God.

George Muller's Orphans

(Photo: George Muller’s Orphans)

He reasoned that if a simple man like him received the money to run an orphan house by prayer and faith, it would strengthen the faith of believers and be a testimony to unbelievers:

Everyone will see that God is faithful and hears prayer. — George Muller

Borrowing money, on the other hand, he disagreed with. Based solely on 1 Corinthians 13:8, he felt no one should owe anyone anything except love. However, while debt can be a trap, the Bible never calls it sin per se. The verse simply prohibits borrowing what you cannot repay.

Muller’s Disciplines for Achieving His Goals

His method for spiritual growth consisted of two disciplines:

  1. George Muller believed the food for the inner person was the Word of God. He devoted whole mornings, in spite of his hectic schedule, to reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation. His library consisted of around six versions of the Bible, translations in several languages, a Hebrew Bible, three Greek Testaments, and a Greek concordance.
  2. Prayer also played an immeasurable role in Muller’s life. In fact, his prayers made Muller famous. He believed God’s blessing came in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer. Consequently, Muller prayed almost incessantly.

How George Muller Overcame His Hindrances

One of Muller’s hindrances to spiritual growth—and I so appreciate his honesty—was a feeling of pride at what God had done through him. He knew the temptation to pride, but he did not let it keep him from moving forward and trusting that God could keep him humble.

George Muller's No 3 Orphan House

(Photo: George Muller’s Third Orphan House)

Living hand-to-mouth provided seasons of discouragement and a temptation to doubt the faithfulness of God. With these things Muller struggled mightily. The emotions of how each situation seemed worse than before Muller revealed by his oft repeated phrase: “We were never in greater need.”

George Muller admitted his emotions of doubt, discouragement, and dependence on self came as a direct result of shallow devotions. Muller’s entries for June 25-26, 1834 read:

June 25. These last three days I have had very little real communion with God, and have therefore been irritable and weak spiritually.

June 26. I rose early this morning and spent nearly two hours in prayer before breakfast. I now feel more comfortable.

If it were not so penetrating, the repetition of the pattern would be monotonous. Time and again, George Muller took every need—from daily bread to building three new orphanages—directly to and only to the throne of God. Amazingly, God regularly waited up to the moment of need before He met it. But often the Lord showed how He already had provided the answer even before the initial prayer.

All this, Muller argues, shows how much God wants us to trust Him in prayer.

God waits for prayer to provide what He has already prepared to give. (Tweet that.)

George Muller's Orphans

(Photo: George Muller’s Orphans)

Applying George Muller’s Example

I benefited from at least three takeaways from the autobiography of George Muller:

  1. No need is too small for God. Muller’s life of humble dependence encouraged me to trust the Lord more with every need—even the petty ones. That’s both convincing and convicting.
  2. Prayer doesn’t exclude common sense or planning. Muller did not exclude common sense in expecting answers to prayer. When faced with the decision to move his orphanage from Wilson Street or not, he made a list of pros and cons—an exercise he did with more than one major decision. Not a bad idea.
  3. There is always a “good” reason to skip your quiet time. I have found, among many hindrances, that the devil always stands ready to provide a “good reason” (read: excuse) for limiting, or altogether skipping, my time with the Lord. I reason because my small group study went late last night, or because my body hurts, or because I will take off early today, or because of the unexpected funeral this week, that my time with the Lord can slide—”just today,” of course. Muller struggled with this too but came to the conclusion that whatever his body might suffer, he would not let the morning pass while he lay in bed.

I recommend a couple of great resources:

  1. Grab the Autobiography of George Muller or get the Kindle version for 99 cents.
  2. There’s even a free Kindle version of Answers to Prayer From George Müller’s Narratives.

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