I keep tucked away in my “devotional” file a little half-sheet of paper with an outline on it that I taught from almost fifteen years ago. It was a short lesson I did on finding the will of God in prayer, and I utilized a large portion of material from George Mueller’s autobiography in my teaching. Mueller was known as a man of prayer and faith. Here’s what I shared in my teaching handout on “Seeking God’s Will” that was directly from Mueller:
Mueller mentioned these attitudes of the heart that often led him to making mistakes concerning the will of God for a particular matter or situation:
- Lacking honesty in his heart concerning the matter
- Lacking uprightness before God
- Impatience to wait on God
- Preferring the counsel of men over the declarations of Scripture
Here’s how he summed up the way he entered into a “heart” relationship with God and learned to discern God’s “voice” or his will in a matter:
- 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 here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the knowledge of what his will is.
- Having done this, I do not leave the results to feelings or impression. 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 again to great delusions, for my heart may tell me many things that the Spirit is not actually saying. If the Holy Spirit guides 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 properly and in conformity with his truth and his word.
- Thus, (1) through prayer to God, (2) the study of his word, and (3) reflection on these disciplines, 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 have always found Mueller’s approach to knowing God’s will refreshing. And it is backed up by a faithful brother who served the Lord tirelessly for almost a century. He built five large orphan houses and cared for over 10,000 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. You read that correctly… in prison. He managed to do this while preaching on average three times a week. At the age of 70 he left for the mission field, visiting 42 nations, including the States. He returned from his mission work seventeen years later at 87, and went right back to preaching. By the time he died at age 92, he had read his Bible an estimated 200 times, prayed in millions of dollars for orphan ministry, and had never once been in debt of any kind. He did not accept a salary for the last 68 years of his life. He never once during his ministry asked people for funding. He lost two wives and two children of his own during those years, so it was not as if he led an ivory-tower life. He was, simply stated, a man of God. Therefore, in my opinion, his advice on knowing God’s will, although not perfect, is sound.
I hope you find his advice helpful to you. I am pleased that I ran across the handout again this week. It taught me afresh.
Grace and peace,