December 31, 2019 9:20 pm Leave your thoughts
George Muller spent his life encouraging Christians to trust God to meet their needs through prayers. For over 60 years, he depended entirely on God to supply all his needs through prayers. He never received a salary or went into debt. He never asked anyone for help and neither did he manipulate people to supply his needs. All the money for his personal needs and his ministries came directly from God through prayers. He wrote that he knew of over 50,000 specific prayers which God had answered him. By 1898 when he died, he had received millions of dollars in answer to prayers. Who was George Muller?
Although George Muller is known as one of the greatest men of prayer in church history, he was just an ordinary person. He was born in 1805 in Prussia, Germany. His father was a tax-collector and a worldly-minded man.
As a young man, George was a great sinner before he was saved. Before he was 10 years old, he had on several occasions stolen some of the tax money that his father had collected.
When George was 10 years old, his father enrolled him at the Cathedral Classical School at Halberstadt. His father wanted him to become a Lutheran pastor, not to serve God, but to have an easy and comfortable life as a clergyman of the Lutheran state church. His father also hoped that his son would be able to support him in his old age.
George’s mother died when he was 14 years old. On the night she died, George was playing cards, not even aware of her illness. He spent the next day drinking at a tavern with some friends.
George continued to plunge deeper into all sorts of sins. He indulged in every form of sin such as lying, stealing, gambling, licentiousness and extravagance.
When George was 15 years old, his father was transferred to Schoenebeck and George was left alone at home without anyone to supervise him. He robbed his father of certain taxes which he had entrusted him to collect. He falsified the accounts of what he had received and pocketed the balance. He used the money to embark on a trip to enjoy life.
He stayed in expensive hotels and he would sneak out without paying his bills. He spent 6 days at Magdeburg. He next went to Brunswick and lodged in an expensive hotel until his money ran out. He then moved to a fine hotel in a neighboring village where his clothes were confiscated in lieu of what he owed. He thereafter walked six miles to another inn where he was arrested for trying to defraud the landlord. He was put in jail for 24 days but his father bailed him out of prison. He received a severe thrashing from his angry father.
Thereafter, George transferred to another school at Nordhausen where he remained for two and a half years. He studied diligently and he became proficient in Latin, French, History and German. Although the teachers said he had great promise, drinking and debauchery continued to be part of his life. He also cared nothing about God.
In 1825, George entered Halle University as a student of divinity. He estimated that only 9 out of the 900 divinity students feared the Lord. While at the university, George spent his money in profligate living. When his money was gone, he pawned his watch and clothes and also borrowed from other students.
George met a fellow student named Beta who was a backslidden Christian. In August 1825, George, Beta and two other students pawned some of their belongings and used the money to travel to Switzerland. George forged letters for all of them to get passports. They spent 43 days traveling all over Switzerland. George lied to his father about the trip.
Back at the university, Beta began to attend a Saturday night Christian meeting in the neighborhood. One night, he took George to the meeting. George saw people reading the Bible, praying, singing and listening to a sermon. He felt awkward for being there and even apologized for his presence. However, the host pleasantly invited him to come as often as he pleased.
George made Jesus his Lord and Savior that Saturday night in November 1825; he was 20 years old. God gave him power to overcome his sins and he became a new creature in Christ.
The next day, George went back to the host’s home and they read the Bible and prayed together. Before the week was over, he had gone there 4 times for he could not bear to wait until Saturday evening for the next meeting.
In 1826, George decided to become a missionary. When his father objected, he felt it was not right to continue receiving any more financial support from him. He obtained a well-paying job at the university of teaching German to American college professors and translating lectures for them.
In 1828, George graduated from Halle University. Thereafter, he fell in love with a Roman Catholic girl who almost made him backslide. George came back to his senses when he saw a young missionary give up everything in order to serve Christ. This made him realize how selfish he was and he gave up the girl who was trying to take the place of Christ in his heart.
George in England
In 1828, George offered himself to the London Missionary Society as a missionary to the Jews. He was invited for a six-month probationary period in London. He went to England in March 1829 aged 24 years. Soon after his arrival, he experienced health problems and his doctor advised him to go to the countryside for a change of air.
He traveled to Teignmouth in Devonshire where he became acquainted with Henry Craik who would become his loyal associate for many years. There in a little chapel called Ebenezer, George made two crucial discoveries: the value of reading and meditating on the word of God, and the truth about the doctrine of grace.
By the time he returned to London, he was a different man. He resigned from the London Missionary Society and went back to Teignmouth in 1830. He had been called there to pastor at Ebenezer Chapel which had a congregation of 18 people.
George also used to undertake a monthly preaching engagement just outside Exeter. He would lodge with a Mrs. Hake who was an invalid. A woman called Mary Groves, who was 29 years old, was her housekeeper. George fell in love with Mary and they were married in October 1830.
Three weeks after their marriage, George and his wife decided to depend upon God alone to provide their needs. He stopped receiving a salary for his preaching duties. They would also not give definite answers to inquiries as to whether or not they were in need of money at any particular moment. No matter how pressing the need was, they simply prayed and asked God to supply their needs, and either money or food always came in time to save the situation.
George in Bristol
In spring 1832, George left Teignmouth and joined his friend Craik in Bristol. A friend offered to rent Bethesda Chapel for a year if the two men would stay and minister there. George and Craik accepted the call. In May 1832, George settled permanently in Bristol where he lived until his death in 1898.
George began his ministry in Bristol as co-pastor with his friend Craik. Without salary or rented pews their work was greatly blessed. The membership more than quadrupled in numbers in a short time. George continued to preach there for as long as he lived, even after he began his orphanages. At the time of his death, he had a congregation of about 2,000 at Bethesda Chapel.
In February 1834, George founded his “The Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad” because he was disillusioned with the worldly strategies of other mission organizations. It had 5 branches which were: to assist Sunday schools, and children and adult schools and start new ones where possible; to sell Bibles to the poor at low prices and if necessary to give them free of charge; to aid freelance missionaries; to circulate Bible tracts in various languages; and to take care of orphans whose both parents were dead.
George’s organization had, through faith in God alone, obtained and disbursed $7,500,000 ($176 million today) at the time of his death in 1898. He achieved this without worldly patronage, without asking anyone for help, without contracting debts, without committees, subscribers, or membership.
By the time of George’s death, 122,000 people had been taught in schools supported by these funds, and 282,000 Bibles and 1,500,000 New Testaments had been distributed by means of the same fund. Also 112,000,000 religious literature had been circulated, many missionaries had been aided in many parts of the world, and 10,024 orphans had been cared for by means of the same fund.
The bulk of the money was expended for his orphanages for which he is well-known for. He built 5 large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1836, there were accommodations for only 3,600 orphans in England and over 7,000 children under 8 years were in prison. George’s orphanages inspired others and 50 years after he began his work, about 100,000 orphans were cared for in England.
After he had moved to Bristol, George began thinking about starting an orphanage there. His aim was to have a visible ministry as proof that God hears and answers prayer.
In December 1835, George presented his plans at a public meeting. Although no collection was taken, someone handed him 10 shillings and a Christian woman offered herself to work in the orphanage. After 5 days of prayer, $300 was donated which was enough to rent a house and furnish it.
He rented a house on Wilson Street and in April 1836, the orphanage opened with 26 children who were girls between 7 and 12 years old. The second orphan house was opened in November 1836 to care for children from babyhood to 7 years old. In September 1837, a third orphan house was opened for boys over 7 years old. In July 1844, he opened a fourth orphan house and this brought the number of orphans in his orphanage to 130.
George prayed to God to provide everything he needed. God supernaturally provided everything
that was needed and the children were properly clad, had regular meals and also attended school. George never incurred a debt and the children never went without a meal. George would say that if the children were ever to go without a meal, he would take it as evidence that God did not want the work to continue.
Sometimes it would almost be meal time but he did not know where the food would come from. God never let him down even once as he always provided it in the nick of time. The following demonstrates how much George trusted God to supply his needs through prayers.
One morning, there was no food or money to buy it. The plates, cups and bowls had been laid out on the tables and the children were seated waiting for their morning meal. George simply lifted his hands in front of everyone and thanked God for the food he was going to give them that morning.
No sooner had George finished praying than there was a knock on the door. It was the baker. He told George that God had awakened him at 2.00 am during the night and impressed on him to bake enough bread for the kids as they had nothing to eat. He had brought the bread.
The baker had hardly finished speaking when there was another knock on the door. It was the milkman. He told George that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage and he wanted to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. This miracle ensured that the orphans had their breakfast just in time to attend school.
In October 1845, George received a letter from a local resident complaining that the noise of the orphans was a nuisance. George gave the letter much thought, listing the pros and cons of relocating from the area. Relocation meant buying land and building a structure at a cost of $60,000 that would accommodate 300 orphans. He began to pray to God to provide the necessary funds.
On his 36th day of prayer, the first $6,000 was donated for the building project. By June 1848, he had received the $60,000 which he needed.
He had begun to build in July 1847 at a place called Ashley Downs. House number 1 was opened in June 1849 and housed 300 children. It was built on a seven-acre piece of land. The final cost of buying land and constructing the house came to $90,000 since legal expenses, furnishings and other expenses were higher than originally estimated. The old houses on Wilson Street emptied and everyone was now under one roof.
In 1850, George felt the need for a second orphan house and began to pray about it. Donations began to come in miraculously. In November 1857, a second building was constructed at a cost of $126,000 and it housed 400 children. Building number 3 cost $138,000 and it was opened in March 1862; it housed 450 children.
House number 4 was opened in November 1868 while number 5 was opened in January 1870. Both cost $300,000 to build and they housed 450 orphans each. This brought the number of orphans housed in George’s orphanage to 2,050. The orphanage occupied 13 acres of land. By the time of his death in 1898, over 10,000 orphans had passed through his orphanage and over 3,000 of them had been won to Christ.
George’s orphanage and his other ministries required about $264,000 a year to maintain them. He had to feed, clothe and educate over 2,000 orphans a year; assist 189 missionaries financially; maintain 100 schools with 9,000 pupils; and distribute 4 million tracts and thousands of copies of the Bible every year. He never asked anyone for money to meet all these needs. He instead prayed and looked up to God who would in turn touch people to provide what he needed.
When he was given money for a specific need or purpose, George regarded it as sacred to that trust and he would not use or borrow it even temporarily for any other purpose. Though in dire need, he would not use any money set aside for other purpose except for that specific thing.
George’s personal income (donations) was about $12,000 a year of which he used about $1,800 for his personal needs and gave the rest away. He would never save money for a rainy day since that would have been inconsistent with a life of faith. He believed that a life of trust forbids laying up treasures against unforeseen needs since with God no emergency is unforeseen and no need is not provided for.
George read through the Bible over 200 times and he always found it fresh when he read it again. He read and meditated on the word of God because it, not prayers, was his spiritual food. He not only read and pondered over it, but also applied it to his life.
George did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1832 to 1898. Besides his preaching and orphanage, the other four objectives of his Scriptural Knowledge Institution claimed his attention. He used to answer about 3,000 letters a year without a secretary.
When George turned 70 years old in 1875, he embarked on a world-wide evangelical work for the next 17 years until 1892 when he was 87 years old. He made 16 preaching trips all over the world and traveled 200,000 miles in 42 countries and preached to about 3 million people. Besides Europe and North America, he also preached in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, India, Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand. All his expenses were sent in by people in answer to his prayers of faith.
George would pray and get answers for everything as the following story demonstrates. On one occasion, George was sailing to America when they came across a very thick fog and the ship hardly moved for 24 hours. It seemed there was no way that George would make it in time for his preaching engagement in Quebec, Canada.
It was on a Wednesday when George informed the captain that he had to be in Quebec that Saturday afternoon. The captain told him that was impossible. George told him that he had never broken an engagement in 47 years and he was not going to miss his engagement in Quebec.
The captain told him there was nothing he could do about it. George told him that they could pray about it. The captain thought George was a lunatic as he had never heard of such a thing.
When they got to the chart-room, the captain asked George if he knew how dense the fog was. George said no. He added that his eyes were not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controlled every circumstance of his life.
George got down on his knees and prayed a very simple prayer which the captain thought was suitable for a child aged 8 or 9 years. George prayed that if his prayer was consistent with God’s will, he should remove the fog in 5 minutes because he believed it was God’s will that he should be in Quebec that Saturday.
When he finished praying, the captain was just about to pray but George told him not to pray because he (captain) did not believe that God would answer his prayer. Secondly, George believed that God had already answered his prayer and there was no need to pray about it again.
The captain was puzzled. George told him that he had known the Lord for 47 years and there had never been a single day that God had failed to answer his prayers.
After 5 minutes, he told the captain to open the door and he would find the fog gone. When he opened the door, the fog was gone! George was able to keep his Saturday afternoon appointment in Quebec.
George outlived his family. His wife died in February 1870 when she was 72 years old. She had borne him 4 children, but 2 were stillborn while his son, Elijah, died when he was a year old. His surviving daughter, Lydia married James Wright in 1871 who later succeeded George as the head of his ministries. Lydia died in 1890 aged 57 years.
George married Susannah Sangar in November 1871 when he was 66 years old while she was in her late forties. He had known her for 25 years. Susannah died in January 1894 after 23 years of marriage. George preached at Mary’s funeral when he was 64 and at Susannah’s funeral when he was 90.
George preached his last sermon on 6 March 1898 at Alma Road Chapel in Clifton. He also led a prayer meeting in his church on the evening of 9 March 1898. On the morning of 10 March, his housekeeper took his breakfast at 7:00 am but he did not answer when she knocked on his door. He was found dead on the floor beside his bed. His funeral was held on 14 March and it was attended by thousands of people.
George’s life of faith and prayer of asking no one but God to supply all his needs was a consciously calculated mission to encourage believers that God could be trusted to meet their needs. He never asked anyone directly or indirectly for money. He wanted to glorify God as the source of everything he needed. He had no salary but he trusted God to touch people’s hearts to send him whatever he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt. He lived a life that proved God is real, God is trustworthy, and God answers prayers.
The aim of George’s life was to glorify God by helping people take God at his word. When he was faced with a crisis, he would say that he did not know how whatever he was praying for would come, but he knew that God is Almighty, and the hearts of all people were in his hands, and he would touch people to send him the help that he needed.
George left us a good example of how to look up to God and pray to him to provide our needs. George’s life is a very powerful testimony that God can be trusted to answer our prayers. We should not go to people directly or indirectly when we have a need. We should instead take all our needs to God in prayers. We should also not manipulate others to supply our needs. Always remember that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
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