George Müller, a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well-known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. He did all of this by seeking means from God through prayer.
“I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.”
During the year ending May 26, 1898 [sixty-four years after the beginning in 1834], the number of day schools was seven and of pupils 354; the number of children in attendance from the beginning 81,501. The number of home Sunday Schools, twelve, and of children in them 1,341 ; but, from the beginning, 32,944.
The number of Sunday Schools aided in England and Wales, twenty-five. The amount expended in connection with home schools, £736. 13s. l0d.; from the outset, £109,992. 19s. l0d.
The Bibles and parts thereof circulated, 15,411; from the beginning 1,989,266. Money expended for this purpose the past year £439; from the first, £41,090. 13s. 3d.
Missionary laborers aided, 115. Money expended £2,082. 9s. 6d.; from the outset, £261,859. 7s. 4d.
Circulation of books and tracts, 3,101,338; money spent £1,100. Is. 3d.; and from the first, £47,188. 11s. l0d.
The number of orphans on Ashley Down 1,620, and from the first 10,024.
Money spent that year, £22,523. 13s. 1d., and from the beginning £988,829.
This is the official biography of George Müller. It is excellent!
"The statement of these facts at once suggests an inquiry as to the manner in which this large, and expensive, and noble charity has been established and supported. Is it a government enterprise? What nobleman, with a heart as large as his purse, has inaugurated and carried forward, and is still sustaining the work? Or what association of individuals, or churches, or societies is managing the work and furnishing the necessary supplies? The institution rests on no such basis as this. At its head is simply George Müller, who says the work is the Lord's, and that he himself is only His servant and steward in the premises. The funds are, and ever have been, the voluntary contributions of individuals at home and abroad, given, as Mr. Müller heartily believes, in answer to prayer. This, as he says, is the secret of the whole matter: scriptural living and believing prayer." (Read Prime's Biography on Müller)
"Among the curiosities of literature in our day is a work, of which four parts have appeared at intervals, entitled The Lord's Dealings with George Müller. The first edition of the first part was published twenty years ago, the fourth part appeared only last year. The tone of this very singular book is like that of the author of the Bank of Faith, who, when he wanted a new pair of trousers, prayed for them over-night, and found them by his bedside in the morning. But Huntington prayed generally for himself, George Müller takes thought of the orphan, and has accomplished in his own way a substantial work that must secure for him the respect of all good men, whatever may be the form of their religious faith."
This conversation took place near the end of Müller's life. Here is how Parsons introduces the visit to his readers:
"The communion of that hour will be graven on my memory while life shall last. This servant of the Most High opened his heart to me, counseled me, prayed with me, and gave me his blessing. In that hour the source of George Mueller’s great spiritual strength was clearly made manifest. The aged saint with all his faculties unimpaired, was eloquent the whole time on one theme, the praise of Jehovah, the great Hearer and Answerer of His people’s prayers. My own words were few."
The work with the orphans began in 1836 in their own rented home at 6 Wilson Street, Bristol, where they were able to accommodate thirty girls. . Later three more houses were prepared for girls and boys, and raised the capacity to 130. In 1845, because of complaints coming from the neighbors, it was decided to open a new building at Ashley Down to accommodate 300, which was completed in 1849. Eventually 1,722 children were being accommodate, though there was capacity for 2,200, in five buildings. These were all built without making any requests for funds. Click on this link to learn about the construction of the buildings and see beautiful pictures of them.
George Müller did not write many books, however he published five editions of the Narratives which were highly detailed accounts of how God provided for the orphanage—often at the last moment. The other books that are important, but not published by him, are Counsels to Christians, Jehovah Magnified and Sermon and Addresses. There are also many books about him. Some of the writers had a relationship with Müller, others did not. Of special note is the book about his many itineration with his second wife, and the book written about what took place after he died. You can find and download these books at this link: Books By and About George Müller..
Here are some choice quotations of George Müller. We will be adding more over time.
This is a precious chapter from George Müller's book Counsel for Christians. Here is a sample: "thus, beloved friends, you and I shall find again and again that the answer is delayed; and the question is, shall we give up praying, or shall we continue? The temptation is to cease praying, as though we had given up hope, and to say, "It is useless; we have already prayed so long that it is useless to continue." This is just what Satan would have us say; but let us persevere and go on steadily praying, and be assured that God is both able and willing to do it for us; and that it is the very joy and delight of His heart, for Christ's sake, to give to us all things which are for the glory of His name, and our good and profit. If we do so, He will give us our desire. As assuredly as we are the children of God, if we pray perseveringly, and in faith, the prayer will be answered. Thus let us learn from this precious instance regarding prayer, which the Holy Ghost has given for our encouragement." (Read the rest of Müller's presentation on Prevailing Prayer)
"This circumstance now led me to lie low before my God in prayer, and to examine my heart once more as to all the motives concerning it; and being able, as formerly, to say that his glory was my chief aim, i. e., that it might be seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in the living God, and still continuing in prayer. I was at last brought to this state, that I could say from my heart that I should rejoice in God being glorified in this matter, though it were by bringing the whole to nothing." (Read more from Müller on motives in prayer)
Here Müller talks about what it means to lay our burdens on God: "Dear brethren and sisters, are you in the habit of rolling all your burdens on the Lord? Just as trials come, do you bring them back to your heavenly Father? This is the reason why He lays them on you. And if you make the attempt to carry them in your own strength you will oblige your heavenly Father to increase the trial and burden, so that by the weight you may be at last forced to come to Him, and leave it with Him." (Read more from Hints on Praying)
"As with reference to the growth of every grace of the Spirit, it is of the utmost importance that we seek to maintain an upright heart and a good conscience, and, therefore, do not knowingly and habitually indulge in those things which are contrary to the mind of God, so it is also particularly the case with reference to the growth in faith. How can I possibly continue to act faith upon God, concerning any thing, if I am habitually grieving Him, and seek to detract from the glory and honor of Him in whom I profess to trust, upon whom I profess to depend? All my confidence towards God, all my leaning upon Him in the hour of trial will be gone, if I have a guilty conscience, and do not seek to put away this guilty conscience, but still continue to do things which are contrary to the mind of God. And if, in any particular instance, I cannot trust in God, because of the guilty conscience, then my faith is weakened by that instance of distrust; for faith with every fresh trial of it either increases by trusting God, and thus getting help, or it decreases by not trusting Him; and then there is less and less power of looking simply and directly to Him, and a habit of self-dependence is begotten or encouraged. One or other of these will always be the case in each particular instance. Either we trust in God-and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellowmen, nor in circumstances, nor in any thing besides-or we trust in one or more of these, and in that case do NOT trust in God." (Read more on How To Strengthen Faith)
Here is one of the conditions that Müller cites: "I have not the least doubt because I am assured that it is the Lord’s will to save them, for He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Also, we have the assurance ‘that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” (1John 5: 14)" (Read more from George Müller" Prayer Conditions & Resources)
Notice what George Müller says on obeying: "‘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.’" (Read more from The Secret of His Power in Prayer)
Be slow to take new steps in the Lord’s service, or in your business, or in your families. Weigh everything well; weigh all in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and in the fear of God. 2. Seek to have no will of your own, in order to ascertain the mind of God, regarding any steps you propose to take, so that you can honestly say, you are willing to do the will of God, if He will only please to instruct you. 3. But when you have found out what the will of God is, seek for His help, and seek it earnestly, perseveringly, patiently, believingly, and expectingly: and you will surely, in His own time and way, obtain it. (Read more on God's Guidance from George Müller)
"I do not presume to know myself what is best for the hearers, and I therefore ask the Lord in the first place, that He would graciously be pleased to teach me on what subject I shall speak, or what portion of His word I shall expound. Now sometimes it happens, that previous to my asking Him, a subject or passage has been in my mind, on which it has appeared well for me to speak. In that case I ask the Lord, whether I should speak on this subject or passage. If, after prayer, I feel persuaded that I should I ﬁx upon it, yet so, that I would desire to leave myself open to the Lord to change it, if He please." (Read more on preaching and choosing a text)
"First of all, it is of the utmost moment that we regularly read through the Scripture. We ought not to turn over the Bible, and pick out chapters as we please here and there, but to read it regularly through. We should read carefully and regularly through the Scriptures. I speak advisedly, and as one who has known the blessedness of thus reading the Word for the last forty-six years. I say forty-six years, because for the first four years of my Christian life I did not carefully read the word of God. I used to read a tract, or an interesting book; but I knew nothing of the power of the Word. I read next to nothing of it and the result was, that, though a preacher then, and though I had preached in connection with the establishment made no progress in the divine life. And why? Just for this reason, that I neglected the word of God." (Learn more from Müller on how to study the Bible)
Read of a revival that occurred at George Müller's orphanage in Bristol England: "On May 26, 1857, the death of an orphan, Caroline Bailey, took place. The death of this beloved girl, who had known the Lord several months before she fell asleep, seems to have been used by the Lord as a means of answering in a goodly measure our daily prayers for the conversion of the orphans. It pleased God at the beginning of the last period mightily to work among the orphans, so that all at once, within a few days, without any apparent cause, except it be the peaceful end of the beloved Caroline Bailey, more than fifty of these girls were brought to be under concern about their souls, and some with deep conviction of sin accompanying it, so that they were exceedingly distressed." (Read the rest of this short excerpt on revival from George Müller)
Here is an excerpt from a little tract that changed Müller's life: "The principal points to be attended to, in the above passage, are,—The importance attached to a “single eye” and the clear declaration of our Saviour, that riches disturb the clearness and simplicity of its vision;—God’s care of the lowest of his creatures, and his provision for those which have neither storehouse nor barn;—the inference thence deduced by our Saviour, that he will much more care and provide for those who singly and earnestly seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, though they have neither store-house nor barn;—and the source of all our distrust and doubt, clearly intimated in the expression—'O ye of little faith.'" (Read more on being a devoted Christian form Anthony Norris Groves)
(Letter from George Müller to J. Hudson Taylor)
I found this letter from George Müller to J. Hudson Taylor (Founder of the China Inland Mission) among the personal papers of Taylor. Here is an excerpt: "I have in my own experience found it of the utmost moment to make the care about my own soul the chief business of my life. Abundant as my work is, so much so, that if I had strength to work 24 hours every day, I would not accomplish what is ready for my hands, and feet and head, and heart; yet with all this I consider my first business to be, and my primary business, day by day, to get blessing for my own soul, food for my own soul, to be happy in the Lord; and then to work, and to work with all diligence." (Read more from the letter)
He speaks of a deeper conversion in this excerpt from an address to pastors: "“That leads to another thought—the full surrender of the heart to God. I was converted in November 1825, but I only came, into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, and the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask, affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you are taken up irrespective of God? I read a little of the Scriptures before, but preferred other books, but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being. Oh! be not satisfied until in your inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely Being!” (Read more about this deeper conversion)
Müller had strong feelings on debt and surety that should be heeded more in our day: " The way in which Satan ensnares persons, to bring them into the net, and to bring trouble upon them by becoming sureties, is, that he seeks to represent the matter as if there were no danger connected with that particular case, and that one might be sure one should never be called upon to pay the money; but the Lord, the faithful Friend, tells us in His own word that the only way in such a matter "to be sure" is "to hate suretyship." (Prov. xi.15.) The following points seem to me of solemn moment for consideration, if I were called upon to become surety for another" (Read more of Müller's thoughts on this sobering subject)
Read about the liberality of James Wright, the husband of Müller's daughter Lydia, who directed the orphanage after George Müller died. (Read "Mr. Wright's Liberality")
Here are brief thoughts on the conversion of children: "I add, as an encouragement to believers who labour among children, that during the last two years seventeen other young persons or children, have been received into fellowship, among us, and that I am looking out now for many more to be converted, and that not merely of the orphans, but of the Sunday and day-school children." (Read the rest of this article)
Müller was a very busy and devoted believer. Because of his concern to bring the gospel to his home country, Müller printed and distributed 30,000 tracts on what visit he undertook with his wife Mary. This excerpt from the Narratives is truly inspiring.
Müller even wrote about the importance of seeking God's will when traveling: "Seek always to ascertain carefully the mind of God, before you begin anything; but so in particular before you go on a journey, so that you may be quite sure that it is the will of God that you should undertake that journey, lest you should needlessly expose yourself to one of the special opportunities of the devil ensnare you." (Read more of Müller's thoughts on travel)
This is one of my favorite readings from George Müller on how God develops faith in his children: "I say - and say it deliberately - trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of Faith. I get letters from so many of God's dear children who say: "Dear Brother Müller, I'm writing this because I am so weak in faith." Just so surely as we ask to have our Faith strengthened, we must feel a willingness to take from God's hand the means for strengthening it. We must allow Him to educate us through trials and bereavements and troubles. It is through trials that Faith is exercised and developed more and more. God affectionately permits difficulties, that He may develop unceasingly that which He is willing to do for us, and to this end we should not shrink, but if He gives us sorrow and hindrances and losses and afflictions, we should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that Faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us." (Read more from Müller on "real faith.")
We sometimes have the idea that living by faith quickly brings great resources our way. George Müller lived by faith as few have ever lived since. What did it mean on a practical basis for him? This page shares a typical scenario, as well as his later reflections on the impact of trials on his ministry.
"Greater and more manifest nearness of the Lord’s presence I have never had, than when after breakfast there were no means for dinner, and then the Lord provided the dinner for more than one hundred persons; or when, after dinner, there were no means for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this without one single human being having been informed about our need." (Read the entire article on living by faith)
"Have you ever read the Scriptures, and prayed with reference to this subject?" I answered, "No." "Then," she said, "I entreat you, never to speak any more about it till you have done so." It pleased the Lord to show me the importance of this remark; for whilst at that very time I was exhorting every one to receive nothing which could not be proved by the word of God, I had repeatedly spoken against believers' baptism, without having ever earnestly examined the Scriptures, or prayed concerning it; and now I determined, if God would help me, to examine that subject also, and if infant baptism were found to be scriptural, I would earnestly defend it; and if believers' baptism were right, I would as strenuously defend that, and be baptized." (Read Müller's narrative on his conversion to the new belief.)
In this chapter from The Fundamentals, Pierson seeks to prove the existence of the Living God from the prayer ministry of George Müller.
Without a doubt the Bible was Müller's most influential and favorite book. He read it more than 100 times and delighted in spending two hours every day in the Scriptures prior to beginning his heavy work load as Orphan Director, Pastor, speaker of many conferences and itinerations, and correspondent—he shares in one address that he received as many as 30,000 letters annually, of which most came through his hands.
Müller mentions three human books that greatly influenced him: August Francke's Autobiography that he would have undoubtedly read in German, John Newton's autobiographical Authentic Narrative, and Robert Philips' Life and Times of George Whitefield.
Francke's book provided the inspiration for an orphanage and the means to make it a work of faith by only seeking the required financial resources from God.
From John Newton he learned the importance of keeping detailed notes on what was going on.
From George Whitefield he learned the value of having his devotion moments with Jesus on his knees. When I learned of these books being the most impactful books of Müller, I obtained them by way of purchase or as pdfs on the internet. I have placed them here so that you can read them as well.
I should also mention that George Müller is often characterized as a man of "one book": the Bible. And that is true for the most part, though we know that the three books mentioned above were highly impactful in his life.
When I visited the Müller Foundation in Bristol, England, they had a bookcase full of his books. Though I wasn't able to touch any of them, from what I could see, they looked pretty untouched. So he wasn't spending lots of time reading them. One might wonder if these books came after his death, but there is a picture of the same bookcase in historical pictures, so one gets the idea they may have came from his era.
While I am at it, I also inquired about the location of the original diaries that contained his personal notes. The person I was talking with suggested their whereabouts are unknown. Someone, somewhere has those treasured diaries, unless they were lost during the war when so many buildings in Bristol were destroyed. I hope they are found some day!—Dan
Here is what A. T. Pierson says about the role Francke's book played in Müller's life:
"For some two months he availed himself of the free lodgings furnished for poor divinity students in the famous Orphan Houses built by A. H. Francké. This saintly man, a professor of divinity at Halle, who had died a hundred years before (1727), had been led to found an orphanage in entire dependence upon God. Half unconsciously George Mueller's whole life-work at Bristol found both its suggestion and pattern in Francké's orphanage at Halle. The very building where this young student lodged was to him an object lesson-- a visible, veritable, tangible proof that the Living God hears prayer, and can, in answer to prayer alone, build a house for orphan children. That lesson was never lost, and George Mueller fell into the apostolic succession of such holy labour! He often records how much his own faith-work was indebted to that example of simple trust in prayer exhibited by Francké. Seven years later he read his life, and was thereby still more prompted to follow him as he followed Christ."
The reading of this book would later also influence Hudson Taylor, as attested to by A. T. Pierson: "It was the witness of Mr. Mueller to a prayer-hearing God which encouraged Rev. J. Hudson Taylor in 1863, thirty years after Mr. Mueller's great step was taken, to venture wholly on the Lord, in founding the China Inland Mission. It has been said that to the example of A. H. Francké, in Halle, or George Mueller in Bristol, may be more or less directly traced every form of "faith work," prevalent since."
Notice the diary entries of George Müller in regard to Francke's influence—he spells the name Franke:
November 20. This evening I took tea at a sister's house, where I found Franke's life. I have frequently, for a long time, thought of labouring in a similar way, though it might be on a much smaller scale; not, to imitate Franke, but in reliance upon the Lord. May God make it plain!
November 21. Today I have had it very much impressed on my heart, no longer merely to think about the establishment of an Orphan-House, but actually to set about it, and I have been very much in prayer respecting it, in order to ascertain the Lord's mind.
"February 9. I read a part of Franke's life. The Lord graciously help me to follow him, as far as he followed Christ. The greater part of the Lord's people whom we know in Bristol are poor, and if the Lord were to give us grace to live more as this dear man of God did, we might draw much more than we have as yet done out of our Heavenly Father's bank, for our poor brethren and sisters."
A. T. Pierson writes: "It was just before this, on the ninth of the same month, that the reading of John Newton's Life stirred him up to bear a similar witness to the Lord's dealings with himself."
Notice Müller's thoughts from his first Narrative: "October 9. I have many times had thoughts of giving in print some account of the Lord's goodness to me, for the instruction, comfort, and encouragement of the children of God; and I have been more than ever stirred up to do so since I read Newton's life a few days ago. I have considered, today, all the reasons for and against, and find that there are scarcely any against, and many for it."
A. T. Pierson wrote: "Early in the year 1838, he began reading that third biography which, with those of Francké and John Newton, had such a singular influence on his own life-- Philip's Life of George Whitefield. The life-story of the orphan's friend had given the primary impulse to his work; the life-story of the converted blasphemer had suggested his narrative of the Lord's dealings; and now the life-story of the great evangelist was blessed of God to shape his general character and give new power to his preaching and his wider ministry to souls. These three biographies together probably affected the whole inward and outward life of George Mueller more than any other volumes but the Book of God, and they were wisely fitted of God to co-work toward such a blessed result. The example of Francké incited to faith in prayer and to a work whose sole dependence was on God. Newton's witness to grace led to a testimony to the same sovereign love and mercy as seen in his own case. Whitefield's experience inspired to greater fidelity and earnestness in preaching the Word, and to greater confidence in the power of the anointing Spirit. Particularly was this impression deeply made on Mr. Mueller's mind and heart: that Whitefield's unparalleled success in evangelistic labours was plainly traceable to two causes and could not be separated from them as direct effects; namely, his unusual prayerfulness, and his habit of reading the Bible on his knees."
Notice George Müller's diary entries: "
Jan. 12. Trowbridge. This evening I commenced reading Whitfield’s life, written by Mr. Philip.
Jan. 13. I have already received blessings through Whitfield’s life. His great success in preaching the Gospel is evidently to be ascribed, instrumentally, to his great prayerfulness, and his reading the Bible on his knees. I have known the importance of this for years; I have practiced it a little, but far too little. I have had more communion with God today than I have had, at least generally, for some time past.
Jan. 14. Lord’s day. I have, continued reading Whitfield’s life. God has again blessed it to my soul. I have spent several hours in prayer today, and read on my knees, and prayed for two hours over Psalm lxiii. God has blessed my soul much today.
You can/will-be-able-to-know more about these great men of God on other pages of this website.