George Muller was born in 1805. God graciously saved him in his 20's. He describes his conversion in detail in chapters 1 and 2. The remaining chapters of this book include excerpts from his diary where Muller joyfully records God's work in and through his life. The main thrust of his ministry was organizing orphanages in Bristol, England. However, his heart's desire was that God would use his ministry, not only in the lives of the orphans, but as a testimony to the Church of God all over the world. He was deeply and constantly burdened for Christians to have a deeper faith and dependence on God. He humbly sought to be living proof of a life that is dependent on God in prayer for all things.
The chief end for which the institution was established is that the Church would see the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in answer to prayer. Our desire, therefore, is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord would graciously support us in the trial and that we may not dishonor Him by distrust. (129)
Running an orphanage, and later 3 and 4 orphanages, was no small task for a poor man like Muller. He had NOTHING. Day by day, he prayed about the needs, rarely telling any person about the needs, but relying solely on God. The money would always come in, in small amounts or incredibly large. Sometimes he would wait days, weeks, months or years, but the Lord provided.
There are many things that could be said about this book. Where to start?
Honestly, I found the book uncomfortable at first, because there are echos, if not carefully read in context and taken as a whole, of almost a name it-claim it verbage that sounded strikingly similar to what is taught at many of today's churches. You know Muller is different, but he sounds... the same. Well... KEEP READING! Things become more clear as you see Muller's Gospel-centeredness, his personal disciplines, his awareness of the sovereign grace of God, his love for Christ and the Church, and his evident and sincere humility. I also squirmed at times wondering how on earth he didn't become prideful in his incredible disciplines (hours upon hours of prayer and Scripture reading) or in the circumstantial provisions lavished on his ministry time and time again. He addresses this, too, and his journal reveals glimpses of his humanity and struggles. In both of my hesitations, it was my pride that made me squirm. Faith like Muller's is convicting indeed.
Before you think his life was a cakewalk with money falling from the sky each time he bowed his head in prayer, think again. He faced trial upon trial, but his faith was strenthened afresh with each new trial. He would ascribe glory to God and you would again read of his deep longing for other Christians to walk in the joy of dependence and faith. He talks very practically about care for children, stewardship, Christians in the workplace, giving, missions, Bible distribution, morning meditation, prayer, etc. MUCH is to be gleaned from the reading of this book. Muller also uses many lists, making this an easy read. He prayed with focus and praised the Lord for answers and when answers were supsended. He knew the Bible well and cherished his time with the Lord and with His people.
If we seek, like the people of the world, to increase our possessions, those who are not believers may question whether we believe what we say about our inheritance and our heavenly calling. (141)
Much of what Muller wrote sounded very pastoral, because he wrote with the purpose of people reading his accounts for the strengthening of their faith. In that sense, it was a journal written somewhat like a devotional.
With every fresh trial... a habit of self-dependence is either defeated or encouraged. If we trust in God, we do not trust in ourselves, our fellowmen, circumstances, or in anything else. If we do trust in one or more of these, we do not trust in God.
Are the things of God, the honor of His name, the welfare of His Church, the conversion of sinners, and the profit of your own soul, your chief aim? Or does your business, your family, or your own temporal concerns primarily occupy your attention? Remember that the world will pass away, but the things of God will endure forever. (191)
Finally, I was extremely encouraged by his accounts of spiritual fruit God bestowed upon his ministry. Like the widow persistent in prayer, he faithfully prayed for those children's souls. God heard and answered.
On May 26, 1857, Caroline Bailey, one of the orphans, died. The death of this beloved girl, who had known the Lord for several months, was used by the Lord to answer our daily prayers for the conversion of the orphans. All at once, more than fifty of the girls began to ask questions about heaven, hell, and eternity.