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George Muller: A Life of Prayer and Faith

Issue 18

A.T. Pierson
May/June  2000

The teacher must also be a learner, and therefore only he who continues to learn is competent to continue to teach. Nothing but new lessons, daily mastered, can keep our testimony fresh and vitalizing and enable us to give advance lessons. Instead of being always engaged in a sort of review, our teaching and testimony will thus be drawn each day from a new and higher level.

George MÄller's experiences of prevailing prayer went on constantly accumulating, and so qualified him to speak to others, not as a matter of speculation, theory, or doctrinal belief, but of long, varied, and successful personal experiment. Patiently, carefully and frequently, he sought to impress on others the conditions of effective supplication. From time to time he met those to whom his courageous, childlike trust in God was a mystery; and occasionally unbelief's secret misgivings found a voice in the question, what he would do if God did not send help! What if a meal-time actually came with no food, and no money to procure it; or if clothing were worn out, and nothing to replace it?

To all such questions there was always ready this one answer: that such a failure on God's part is inconceivable, and must therefore be put among the impossibilities. There are, however, conditions necessary on man's part: the suppliant soul must come to God in the right spirit and attitude. For the sake of such readers as might need further guidance as to the proper and acceptable manner of approach to God, he was wont to make very plain the Scripture teaching upon this point.

Five grand conditions of prevailing prayer were ever before his mind:

1. Entire dependence upon the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ

, as the only ground of any claim for blessing (see Jn. 14:13-14, 15:16).

2. Separation from all known sin.

If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us, for it would be sanctioning sin (Ps. 66:18).

3 Faith in God's word of promise as confirmed by His oath.

Not to believe Him is to make Him both a liar and a perjurer (Heb. 11:6, 6:13-20).

4. Asking in accordance with His will.

Our motives must be godly: we must not seek any gift of God to consume upon our own lusts (1 Jn. 5:14, Jas. 4:3).

5. Importunity in supplication.

There must be waiting on God and waiting for God, as the husbandman has long patience to wait for the harvest (Jas. 5:7, Lk. 18:1-10).

The importance of firmly fixing in mind principles such as these cannot be overstated. The first lays the basis of all prayer, in our oneness with the great High Priest. The second states a condition of prayer, found in abandonment of sin. The third reminds us of the need of honouring God by faith that He is, and is the Rewarder of the diligent seeker. The fourth reveals the sympathy with God that helps us to ask what is for our good and His glory. The last teaches us that, having laid hold of God in prayer, we are to keep hold until His arm is outstretched in blessing.

Where these conditions do not exist, for God to answer prayer would be both a dishonour to Himself and a damage to the suppliant. To encourage those who come to Him in their own name, or in a self-righteous, self-seeking, and disobedient spirit, would be to set a premium upon continuance in sin. To answer the requests of the unbelieving would be to disregard the double insult put upon His word of promise and His oath of confirmation, by persistent doubt of His truthfulness and distrust of His faithfulness. Indeed not one condition of prevailing prayer exists which is not such in the very nature of things. These are not arbitrary limitations affixed to prayer by a despotic will; they are necessary alike to God's character and man's good.

All the lessons learned in God's school of prayer made Mr. MÄller's feelings and convictions about this matter more profound and subduing. He saw the vital relation of prayer to holiness, and perpetually sought to impress it upon both his hearers and readers; and, remembering that for the purpose of persuasion the most effective figure of speech is repetition, he hesitated at no frequency of restatement by which such truths might find root in the mind and hearts of others.

There has never been a saint, from Abel's day to our own, who has not been taught the same essential lessons. All prayer which has ever brought down blessing has prevailed by the same law of success—the inward impulse of God's Holy Spirit. If, therefore, that Spirit's teaching be disregarded or disobeyed, or His inward movings be hindered, in just such measure will prayer become formal or be altogether abandoned. Sin, consciously indulged, or duty, knowingly neglected, makes supplication an offense to God.

Yet again, all prayer prevails only as it is offered in faith; and the answer to such prayer can be recognized and received only on the plane of faith; that is, we must maintain the believing frame, expecting the blessing, and being ready to receive it in God's way and time and form, and not our own.

About the Author

ARTHUR T. PIERSON (1837-1911) served prominant pulpits both in America and Great Britain. This article is from George MÄller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith, pp. 169-172, (Kregel 1999). To order, call (800) 733-2607, or go to

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