George Mueller is known worldwide as “The Apostle of Faith” of the 1800s. His life has impacted thousands and perhaps millions. Charles Spurgeon and J. Hudson Taylor were personally mentored by Mueller and patterned their lives and ministries after Mueller’s principles. Others who followed his faith principles included diverse spiritual leaders from all backgrounds: Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest; Amy Carmichael, missionary to India; Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles; Kenneth Hagin from the Word of Faith movement, just to name a few.
Mueller visited A.B. Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, and told him that his Fourfold Gospel of Jesus Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming, “was definitely from God and he should never change its mold.”
Mueller moved from Germany to London to do Jewish evangelism and ended up living a life of total faith trusting God for everything. He pastored, evangelized, and started orphanages, and trusted God to provide. Hundreds of times, he explained, he would sit down at the dinner table thanking God for the food, when there was no food in the house. But then then there would be a knock on the door—and the food was there. He said that only once in 50 years did he have to wait half an hour for the food to arrive.
When I first read The Autobiography of George Mueller, I thought to myself, “I can’t live that kind of a life of faith.” But George Mueller said that he lived his life of faith to show that it can be done by any believer. I was challenged to begin to take steps of faith as Mueller suggested. When I read it again 20 years later, I thought to myself again, “I can’t live that kind of a life of faith.”
But then I realized, maybe I have not lived the life of faith to the extent Mueller lived, but I have lived a much greater life of faith because of Mueller’s challenge. I certainly do not do it perfectly, and I have fallen and failed many times, but I have gotten back up again.
He was so immersed in the Word of God that sometimes he would read through the Bible four times in one year. When he was doing Jewish evangelism, he memorized large portions of the Old Testament in Hebrew (something I have never been able to do even after 3 years of Hebrew study). He was saturated in Scripture, bathed in prayer. His example challenged me to read through the Bible every year. Although I have missed a few, or it has taken me more than a year, I have been able to do so more than 40 times (I have lost count). My life has been enriched by receiving the Word implanted (James 1:21).
Some of Mueller’s principles that impacted my life include:
- Believe that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)
- Don’t start big; start small with “faith-sized” prayers—what you can believe for, then increase that—exercise the muscles of your faith—believe for more. Pray for $50, then when God answers that prayer, believe for $100, etc.
- Give abundantly—he said that we shouldn’t look at tithing as a legalistic debt we owe, but rather the beginning point of generosity.
- Stay out of debt, “Owe no man anything” (Romans 13:8).
- Faith is increased by saturation in the Word of God (James 1:21).
He also taught me a lot about guidance and hearing from the Lord about decision-making. He would always prayerfully list and weigh the pros and cons of a decision, sometimes spending a day or week in prayer.
- Is it God’s work? Is it something God wants done? Is it a good thing or a God thing?
- Is it my work? Is it something God wants me to do? Has He called me to it, or someone else. God told David that his son would build the temple, not him.
- Is it God’s timing? Does God want it done now? Or later? What stage or priority is it in God’s “to do” list.
- Is it God’s way? God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Where we often miss it is in God’s timing or God’s way. We have heard from God that He wants it done and wants us to do it. But we get ahead of God, or we plunge forward with what we think is God’s way, not what we have heard from God that it is His way. George Mueller continues to mentor me through his example and his words.