George Mueller's life and ministry was an outpouring of a revelation he had gotten of grace shortly after he had gotten saved. He was so awed at God's grace and his goodness that he sought some way that he could prove God's goodness to England. So in 1834, when he was 28 years old, he founded the Scripture Knowledge Institute. This led to a vision for the 100s of thousands of parentless destitute children living on the streets. Five branches of this Institute developed: 1) Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge, 2) Bible distribution, 3) missionary support, 4) tract and book distribution, and 5) “to board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death.” The Mission Statement: “The orphan houses exist to display that God can be trusted and to encourage believers to take him at his word.”
He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. One of the great effects of Mueller's ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”
One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school." Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it." Mueller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!"
He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He traveled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day and addressing some three million people. He preached nine times here in Minneapolis in 1880 (nine years after the founding of Bethlehem Baptist Church).
From the end of his travels in 1892 (when he was 87) until his death in March of 1898 he preached in his church and worked for the Scripture Knowledge Institute. At age 92, not long before he died, he wrote, “I have been able, every day and all the day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.” He led a prayer meeting at his church on the evening of Wednesday, March 9, 1898. The next day a cup of tea was taken to him at seven in the morning but no answer came to the knock on the door. He was found dead on the floor beside his bed.
The funeral was held the following Monday in Bristol, where he had served for sixty-six years. “Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession; men left their workshops and offices, women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.” A thousand children gathered for a service at the Orphan House No. 3. They had now “for a second time lost a ‘father'.”
He had read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times. He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today's currency) for the Orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people's hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt. And neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry.
That was the chief passion and unifying aim of Mueller's ministry: live a life and lead a ministry in a way that proves God is real, God is trustworthy, God answers prayer.
Regarding ministry Mueller said: "We should begin the thing in a right way, i.e. aim after the right state of heart; begin inwardly instead of outwardly. If otherwise, it will not last. We shall look back, or even get into a worse state than we were before. But oh! how different if joy in God leads us to any little act of self denial. How gladly do we do it then"
Regarding his inner life he said this: “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished...But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ."
It is said George Mueller had a 6-Point Strategy for finding the Will of God. To live by such faith, Mueller had to have his own will swallowed by God’s.
1. Get your own will out of the way
“I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever that may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.”
2. Feelings are the sure path to delusions. Avoid walking that path.
“Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.”
3. Seek the will of the Spirit in connection with the Word
“I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.”
4. Consider providential circumstances [a call for sanctified common sense]
“Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.”
5. Get on your knees in the throne room
“I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.”
6. Make a deliberate judgment, and then keep testing it with prayer
“Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge; and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving the most important issues, I have found this method always effective.”
Mr. Mueller urged others to try this life of faith in the goodness of God - he wrote:
"My dear Christian reader, will you not try this way? Will you not know for yourself . . . the preciousness and the happiness of this way of casting all your cares and burdens and necessities upon God? This way is as open to you as to me. . . . Every one is invited and commanded to trust in the Lord, to trust in Him with all his heart, and to cast his burden upon Him, and to call upon Him in the day of trouble. Will you not do this, my dear brethren in Christ? I long that you may do so. I desire that you may taste the sweetness of that state of heart, in which, while surrounded by difficulties and necessities, you can yet be at peace, because you know that the living God, your Father in heaven, cares for you."