George Müller founded schools and orphanages while serving as a missionary in Bristol, England, in the early 1800s. His humble testimony regarding God’s miraculous provision for thousands of needy children under his care still inspires our faith today.
My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:19 (King James Version)
Night was falling over the harbor of Bristol, England, and in the orphanage founded by George Müller and his wife, the children were getting ready for bed. George was working in his study when his wife arrived with alarming news. “We’re out of milk,” she said. “There isn’t enough for the morning oatmeal.”
George laid aside his pen. This wasn’t the first time that money needed to buy food and other supplies was tight. The Müllers took in their first group of thirty girls in 1836, and their orphanage now housed over a hundred. From the first George remained resolved never to ask for funds from people or to borrow money. He went to God alone for every need, trusting wholly in the Lord’s faithfulness and provision.
The pastor rose from his desk and reached for his wife’s hand. “Mary,” he said, “let us pray.” Two orphanage employees joined them, and together they made their humble yet necessary request to God. Tiny, helpless mouths were depending on them for sustenance. “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him,” George reminded them afterwards, “He will never fail you.”
Someone knocked on the door. Mary hurried to answer, returning to the study a moment later. She handed her husband an envelope. “It’s a letter, George. Hurry up and open it.”
Enclosed was a sum of money, more than enough for the milk. Within minutes, two more letters arrived with money and pledges of support.
This immediate and abundant response to prayer had become a typical experience for Müller. After he came to faith and started meditating seriously on the Bible, he determined to simply trust God at His Word. As a pastor, he decided to live without a salary, relying only on money given to him. George learned to pray faithfully from his heart, asking His Father to move the hearts of men so that they would supply him and his family with what they needed to survive.
As a self-proclaimed “poor man,” regarding good works and holiness, George was well aware of what he lacked spiritually. George had grown up the privileged, arrogant son of a lawyer and routinely, drank, gambled and skipped out on bills. As revealed in The Autobiography of George Müller, one night he went to a prayer meeting, and everything changed. He got rid of his library of over three hundred books and kept only one, the Bible, the only book George felt he now needed.
One night while seeking the Lord regarding the orphanage, he heard, “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” And so a great experiment of faith began.
Faced with difficulties regarding the rented houses where the children lived, he dreamed of building an orphan’s home on its own land and with every amenity. It took eighteen months to amass the initial sum of money, and throughout that time George counted the days he spent in prayer and recorded the funds as they trickled in. Each donation—God’s answer to his prayer rather than the fruit of a plea to man for money—spurred him to continue. Eventually he built five homes, costing more than $100,000 to build, which is over $14,000,000 in today’s currency.
These institutions were models at the time, when very few such places existed. Many orphans lived on the streets or went to poorhouses, where they were treated like slaves. In the Müller homes, each child was tenderly cared for, clothed, fed, and educated, with Christian instruction as the bedrock. When they left the orphanage in their late teens, they went on to live productive lives.
George raised each and every penny for this wonderful ministry on his knees, through unceasing, persistent, thankful prayer and an unwavering faith in God.
Almost two hundred years later, the George Müller Charitable Trust in Bristol still operates today and continues to adhere to George’s commitment to seeking money only through prayer. Tens of thousands of souls—orphans and other needy children, families and the elderly—have been helped.
As George reminds us, “Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.”
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. —Colossians 4:2 (New International Version)