“George Müller: Delighted in God” by Roger Steer
I read this biography at a time when I desperately needed encouragement in my prayer life. I don’t know that I could have made a better choice!
George Müller was a 19th-century preacher from Prussia, though his ministry was primarily based in Bristol, England. He is most known for the orphanages he founded (before Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist made it fashionable to care for British orphans) and for his remarkable prayer life. He opened his first children’s home in 1836, housing 30 orphans; by the time of his death in 1898, five large manors had been constructed, and he had provided care for more than 10,000 children!
Müller’s ministry grew through methods completely antithetical to common practice. He never once held a fundraiser, published a list of needs, or asked for a dime, yet the children in his homes never wanted for anything. What was his “revolutionary” solution to meeting these needs?
During his lifetime, Müller kept a prayer journal filled with requests, and the answers to those requests. In all, well over 50,000 specific prayers were answered! While a great many of these were answered within 24 hours, many more took years. In particular, he listed people for whose salvation he had prayed for almost sixty years! The last of these became a Christian shortly after Müller’s death.
Many of these details and statistics are common knowledge and readily available on the Internet. The benefit of this biography — one of the best I’ve ever read — is the way it presents Müller’s life from a “ground level” perspective. Far from a dry, narrative account, this book tells a fascinating (true!) story.
In addition to the account of Müller’s work with the orphanages and the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, the biography chronicles his path from reckless playboy to fervent believer, the beginning of his preaching ministry in a humble country church, his role in the founding of the Plymouth Brethren movement (and subsequent withdrawal from fellowship due to theological differences), his conflict with John Nelson Darby (the father of dispensationalism, chastised by Müller for “acting so wickedly”), and his relationships with other great preachers of his time, including C.H. Spurgeon, John & Charles Wesley, and Dwight Moody.
One thing that stood out notably to me was the way Müller used his later years. Though I knew he had been a great evangelist, I had no idea that he didn’t even begin his evangelistic travels until age 70! In the days before high-speed travel, the elderly pastor traveled over 200,000 miles, preaching in 42 countries. Moreover, his preaching schedule was exceedingly rigorous during these trips, sometimes preaching up to ten times a week, without amplification, to crowds often numbering in the thousands. May the Lord grant me the energy to be so useful should he extend my life so long!
I commend this book to you. It is a great testament to God’s faithfulness, and to the fact that one does not need to be a “name-it-and-claim-it” type prosperity preacher to believe that God powerfully answers prayers! Indeed, Müller’s theology was quite sound; the reason his prayers were so reliably answered was that they were such thoroughly biblical prayers, unlike so much of what comes from the health-and-wealth crowd. My own prayer life has greatly benefited from this book, and I pray that yours will as well.
Buy it here.