“WHEN God wishes anew to teach His Church a truth that is not being understood or practiced, He mostly does so by raising some man to be in word and deed a living witness to its blessedness. And so God has raised up in this nineteenth century, among others, George Müller to be His witness that He is indeed the Hearer of prayers.... A few extracts in regard to his spiritual life will prepare the way for what we specially wish to quote of his experiences in reference to prayer.”
[Italicized paragraphs are the comments of Andrew Murray, interspersed between excerpts of George Müller’s writings.]
“I would mention, that the Lord very graciously gave me, from the very commencement of my divine life, a measure of simplicity and of childlike disposition in spiritual things, so that whilst I was exceedingly ignorant of the Scriptures, and was still from time to time overcome even by outward sins, yet I was enabled to carry most minute matters to the Lord in prayer. And I have found ‘godliness profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.’”
It was at Teignmouth that he was led to know how to use God’s word, and to trust the Holy Spirit as the Teacher given by God to make that word clear. He writes:
“God then began to show me that the word of God alone is our standard of judgment in spiritual things; that it can be explained only by the Holy Spirit...in our day, as well as in former times. He is the Teacher of His people....
“The Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book and simply reading the word of God and studying it.
“The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously.
“But the particular difference was that I received real strength for my soul in so doing. I now began to try by the test of the Scriptures the things which I had learned and seen, and found that only those principles which stood the test were of real value.”
Of obedience to the word of God, he writes as follows, in connection with his being baptized:
“It had pleased God, in His abundant mercy, to bring my mind into such a state, that.... I could say, ‘I will do His will,’ and it was on that account, I believe, that I saw which ‘doctrine is of God’ (John vii. 17).”
We have...seen that God’s listening to our voice depends upon our listening to His voice.... When we make a special request, our whole life must be under the supremacy of the word: the word must be dwelling in us. The testimony of George Müller on this point is most instructive. He tells us how the discovery of the true place of the word of God, and the teaching of the Spirit with it, was the commencement of a new era in his spiritual life:
“Now the scriptural way of reasoning would have been: God Himself has condescended to become an author, and I am ignorant about that precious book which His Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of His servants, and it contains that which I ought to know, and the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness; therefore I ought to read again and again this most precious book, this book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation; and in this practice I ought to continue all the days of my life. For I was aware, though I read it but little, that I knew scarcely anything of it. But instead of acting thus and being led by my ignorance of the word of God to study it more, my difficulty in understanding it, and the little enjoyment I had in it, made me careless of reading it (for much prayerful reading of the word gives not merely more knowledge, but increases the delight we have in reading it); and thus, like many believers, I practically preferred, for the first four years of my divine life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the living God. The consequence was that I remained a babe, both in knowledge and grace.... This lack of knowledge most sadly kept me back from walking steadily in the ways of God. For when it pleased the Lord in August 1829 to bring me really to the Scriptures, my life and walk became very different. And though ever since that I have very much fallen short of what I might and ought to be, yet by the grace of God I have been enabled to live much nearer to Him than before. If any believers read this who...prefer other books to the Holy Scriptures, and who enjoy the writings of men much more than the word of God, may they be warned by my loss....
“If the reader understands very little of the word of God, he ought to read it very much; for the Spirit explains the word by the word. And if he enjoys the reading of the word little, that is just the reason why he should read it much; for the frequent reading of the Scriptures creates a delight in them, so that the more we read them, the more we desire to do so.
“He should have it...settled in his mind that although the Holy Spirit is the best and sufficient Teacher, yet that this Teacher does not always teach immediately when we desire it, and that therefore we may have to entreat Him again and again for the explanation of certain passages; but that He will surely teach us at last, if indeed we are seeking for light prayerfully, patiently, and with a view to the glory of God.”
We find in [Müller’s] journal frequent mention made of his spending two and three hours in prayer over the word.... As the fruit of this, when he had need of strength and encouragement in prayer, the individual promises were not to him so many arguments from a book to be used with God, but living words which he had heard the Father’s living voice speak to him, and which he could now bring to the Father in living faith. In George Müller we have one of the most remarkable instances on record of God’s Holy Spirit leading a man deliberately and systematically, at the outset of a course of prayer, to make the glorifying of God his first and only object. Let us ponder well what he says, and learn the lesson God would teach us through him.
[The extracts are from an out-of-print work in four volumes, The Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, J. Nisbet & Co., London, n.d. TBC offers recommended in-print resources on page 9.]