George Mueller was a 19th century British evangelist and minister to orphans. He is best known for his total reliance on God’s provision as he, in turn, provided for thousands of English orphans in and around the city of Bristol. He never asked people for funding, preferring only to lay his and the orphans needs before the Lord. Mueller was not only a great humanitarian, he was a champion for Christian orthodoxy and prayer. Here then, are his thoughts from his autobiography concerning seeking and knowing God’s will.
He mentioned these actions that helped him:
- He sincerely sought God’s direction, wherever it may lead.
- He waited patiently on God until he felt he had a “word” from God.
- He looked to the illumination of Spirit to teach and direct him in the reading of God’s word.
He knew the following things led to his making mistakes in knowing God’s direction:
- Lacking honesty of heart.
- Lacking uprightness before a holy God.
- Impatience to wait for God’s direction.
- Preferring the counsel of men who agreed with him over the declarations of Scripture.
Here then, is how he summed up the way he entered into a “heart” relationship with God and learned to distinguish God’s direction from his own:
- I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do whatever his will demands.
- Having done this, I do not leave the result to feelings or impressions. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
- I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the word of God. The Spirit and the word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the word, I lay myself open to great delusion also. If the Holy Spirit guides us at all, he will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
- Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with his word and Spirit.
- I ask God in prayer to reveal his will to me outright.
- Thus, (1) through prayer to God, (2) the study of his word, and (3) reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.
I believe we see in Mueller a beautiful biblical balance in the use of the Scriptures, godly wisdom, prudence, and trust in the promise of God that he will lead and guide us if we seek him. Mueller was sensible, practical, and knowledgeable, but he refused to move forward on most decisions of import to himself or the orphanages he administered without going first to God in prayer. He despised the “prosperity gospel” that taught that God makes faithful Christians healthy and wealthy. Still, Mueller never went hungry, nor did his orphans. He had enough, and some to give as well.
More than 10,000 children lived in the orphanages over the years. When each child became old enough to live on their own, George would pray with them and put a Bible in their right hand and a coin in their left. He explained to the young person that if he/she held onto what was in their right hand, God would always make sure there was something in their left hand as well.
I’m praying for our church family, that God will meet you in your seeking Christ’s advent in your hearts this season.
Grace and peace,