A few of the many remarkable answers to prayers which George Muller received during his eventful life as contained in his own narratives, are here recorded.
June 13, 1853—We were now very poor. Not indeed in debt, not even with all the money gone; there was still about sixty dollars [£12] in hand; but there was needed to be bought flour, of which we buy generally ten sacks at a time, four thousand two hundred pounds [300 stones] of oatmeal, four hundred-weight [4 cwt.] of soap. There were many little repairs going on in the house, with a number of workmen employed, besides the regular current expenses of about two hundred and eighty dollars [£70] per week. Over and above all this, on Saturday, the day before yesterday, I found that the heating apparatus needed to be repaired, which would, in all probability, cost one hundred dollars [£25]. It was therefore desirable, humanly speaking, to have five hundred dollars [£100] for these heavy extra expenses.
But I had no human prospect whatever of getting even two hundred cents [100 pence]—much less five hundred dollars [£100]. In addition to this, today was Monday when generally the income is little. But in walking to the Orphan House this morning, and praying as I went, I particularly told the Lord in prayer, and on this day, though Monday, He could send me much. And thus it was, I received this morning fifteen hundred dollars [£301] for the Lord's service, as might be most needed. The joy which I had cannot be described. I walked up and down in my room for a long time, tears of joy and gratitude to the Lord raining plentifully over my cheeks, praising and magnifying the Lord for His goodness, and surrendering myself afresh, with all my heart, to Him for His blessed service. I scarcely ever felt more the kindness of the Lord helping me.
Sept. 30, 1869—From Yorkshire two hundred and fifty dollars [£50]. Received also five thousand dollars [£1,000] today for the Lord's work in China. About this donation it is especially to be noted, that for months it had been my earnest desire to do more than ever for mission work in China, and I had already taken steps to carry out my desire, when this donation came to hand. This precious answer to prayer for means should be a particular encouragement to all who are engaged in the Lord's work, and who may need means for it. It proves afresh that, if our work is His work, and we honour Him by waiting upon and looking to Him for means, He will surely, in His own time and way, supply them.
The joy which answers to prayer give, cannot be described, and the impetus which they afford to the spiritual life is exceeding great. The experience of this happiness I desire for all my Christian readers. If you indeed believe in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of your soul; if you walk uprightly and do not regard iniquity in your heart; if you continue to wait patiently, and believingly upon God, such answers will surely be given to your prayers. You may not be called upon to serve the Lord in the way the writer does, and therefore may never have answers to prayer respecting such things as are recorded here; but in your various circumstances, your family, your business, your profession, your church activities, your labour for the Lord, you may have answers as distinct as any here recorded.
Sept. 4, 1844—Only one cent [one farthing] was in my hands this morning. Pause a moment, dear reader! Only one cent [one farthing] in hand when the day commenced! Think of this, and think of nearly fourteen hundred persons to be provided for. You, poor brethren, who have six or eight children and small wages, think of this; and you, my brethren who do not belong to the working classes, but have as it is called, very limited means, think of this! May you not do, what we do, under your trials? Does the Lord love you less than He loves us? Does He not love all His children with no less love than that with which He loves His only begotten Son, according to John 17:20-23? Or are we better than you?... Well, let us hear then, how God helped when there was only one cent [one farthing] left in my hands, on the morning referred to [Sept. 4, 1844].
Shortly after nine o'clock I received five dollars [a sovereign] from a sister in the Lord, who does not wish the name of the place where she resides mentioned. Between ten and eleven o'clock the bag was sent from the Orphan Houses, in which a note stated that nearly six dollars [£1 2s.] was required for today. Scarcely had I read this when a carriage stopped before my house, and a gentleman, from the neighborhood of Manchester, was announced. I found that he was a believer, who had come on business to Bristol. He had heard about the Orphan Houses, and expressed his surprise that without any regular system of collections, and without personal application to anyone, simply by faith and prayer, I obtained more than $10,000 [£2000] annually for the work of the Lord in my hands. This brother, whom I had never seen before, and whose name I did not even know before he came, gave me ten dollars [£2], as an exemplification of what I had stated to him.
July 28, 1874—"It has for months appeared to me, as if the Lord meant, by His dealings with us, to bring us back to that state of things, in which we were for more than ten years, from August, 1838, to April, 1849, when we had day by day, almost without interruption, to look to Him for our daily supplies, and, for a great part of the time, from meal to meal. The difficulties appeared to me indeed very great, as the Institution is now twenty times larger than it was then, and our purchases are to be made in a wholesale way; but at the same time, I am comforted by the knowledge that God is aware of all this, and that if this way be for the glory of His name, and for the good of His church and the unconverted world, I am, by His grace, willing to go this way, and to do it to the end of my course. The funds were thus fast expended; but God, our infinitely rich Treasurer, remains to us. It is this which gives me peace.
"If it pleases Him with a work requiring about two hundred and twenty-two thousand [£44,000] a year, to make me do again at the evening of my life, what I did from August, 1838, to April, 1849, I am not only prepared for it, but gladly again would I pass through all these trials of faith, with regard to means, if He only might be glorified, and His church and the world be benefited. Often and often this last point has of late passed through my mind, and I have placed myself in the position of having no means at all left, and two thousand one hundred persons not only at the table, but with everything else to be provided for, and all funds gone; one hundred and eighty-nine missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred schools, with about nine thousand scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means for them in hand; about four millions of tracts and tens of thousands of copies of the Holy Scriptures yearly have to be sent out, and all the money expended. Invariably, however, with this probability before me, I have said to myself: God, who has raised up this work through me, God who has led me generally year after year, to enlarge it, God who has supported this work now for more than forty years, will still help and will not suffer me to be confounded, because I rely upon Him, I commit the whole work to Him, and He will provide me with what I need in the future also, though I know not whence the means are to come."
Samuel Chadwick in his most inspiring book, The Path of Prayer, [first published 1931] relates an occasion when Dr. A. T. Pierson was the guest of George Muller at his orphanage. He says:
"One night when all the household had retired he [Muller] asked Pierson to join him in prayer. He told him that there was absolutely nothing in the house for next morning's breakfast. My friend tried to remonstrate with him and to remind him that all the stores were closed. Muller knew all that. He had prayed as he always prayed, and he never told anyone of his needs but God. They prayed—at least Muller did—and Pierson tried to. They went to bed and slept, and breakfast for two thousand children was there in abundance at the usual breakfast hour. Neither Muller nor Pierson ever knew how the answer came. The story was told next morning to Simon Short of Bristol, under pledge of secrecy until the benefactor died. The details of it are thrilling, but all that need be told here is that the Lord called him out of bed in the middle of the night to send breakfast to Muller's Orphanage, and knowing nothing of the need, or of the two men at prayer, he sent provisions that would feed them a month. This is like the Lord God of Elijah, and still more like the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Charles Inglis, the well-known evangelist, relates the following remarkable incident:
"When I first came to America thirty-one years ago, I crossed the Atlantic with the captain of a steamer who was one of the most devoted men I ever knew; and when we were off the banks of Newfoundland he said to me: 'Mr. Inglis, the last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, one of the most extraordinary things happened that has completely revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. Up to that time I was one of your ordinary Christians. We had a man of God on board, George Muller, of Bristol. I had been on that bridge for twenty-two hours and never left it. I was startled by someone tapping me on the shoulder. It was George Muller.
"'Captain,' said he, 'I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.' This was Wednesday.
"'It is impossible,' I said.
"'Very well, if your ship can't take me God will find some other means of locomotion to take me. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years.'
"'I would willingly help you, but how can I? I am helpless.'
"'Let us go down to the chart room and pray,' he said.
"I looked at this man and I thought to myself, 'What lunatic asylum could the man have come from? I never heard of such a thing.'
"'Mr. Muller,' I said, 'do you know how dense this fog is?'
"'No,' he replied, 'my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.'
"He went down on his knees, and he prayed one of the most simple prayers. I thought to myself, 'That would suit a children's class, where the children were not more than eight or nine years of age.' The burden of his prayer was something like this: 'O Lord, if it is consistent with Thy will, please remove this fog in five minutes. You know the engagement You made for me in Quebec for Saturday. I believe it is Your will.'
"When he had finished, I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray.
"'First,' he said, 'you do not believe God will do it; and, second, I believe He has done it. And there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.'
"I looked at him, and George Muller said this: 'Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day that I have failed to gain an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog is gone.' I got up, and the fog was gone. On Saturday afternoon George Muller was in Quebec."
From An Hour With George Müller: the Man of Faith to Whom God Gave Millions edited by A. Sims. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, ©1939.
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