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
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
1. Entire dependence upon the merits and mediation of the Lord
, 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