It was in the early hours of the morning and I just could not fall asleep. To say I was nervous to preach at my home church in Colorado was definitely an understatement. This was my first “official message” delivered as a first year seminary student and my mind relentlessly replayed the scripture and main points over and over again. Realizing that a good night of sleep was not an option, I rolled off the mattress of the pull out couch and started to roam around my dad’s house. I found bookshelf and thumbed through the shelves until a small orange booklet on caught my attention. The pamphlet was titled George Mueller – Man of Faith-it was a short read of about 50 pages and I was sure this would soon put me to sleep. My plan failed miserably. I was now wide-awake and completely overwhelmed with conviction of what real biblical faith looked like in this humble follower of Christ.
I had never heard of Mr. Mueller. The booklet told of a young man who after a season of wild, godless, living was transformed by the message of the Cross-at a prayer meeting and soon after declared, “My whole life shall be one of service for the living God.” He became a pastor in the early 1800’s in Bristol, England and taken aback by the plight of orphans in his day founded Ashley Down Orphanage.
“God’s Orphanage,” as he called it would be home to over 10,000 destitute children who were loved, trained, educated, and sent out into the world. The amazing part of this story is that Mueller never asked anyone for help or hinted that money was needed. Solely in answer to believing prayer almost 1 billion dollars was sent to him for building and maintenance of the orphanage, for his missionary enterprises, and for circulation of Scriptures around the world. In his old age he traveled nearly two hundred thousand miles in 42 countries preaching the Gospel to 3 million people. He died in 1898 at the ripe old age of 93 full of joy with not a penny to his name, giving everything he had to serving the Lord.
Can you understand why I couldn’t sleep? And check this out about his preaching:
“He prayed more about his sermons than anything else and that often the text was not given him until he had ascended the pulpit stairs, although he had been praying for it all week,” (p. 11).
Ouch! I had worked on my first sermon for hours and prayed for minutes. Right there in the wee hours of the morning the Holy Spirit was teaching me the absolute importance of prayer before ever preaching His Word. He was teaching me through George Mueller that ministry as well as the Christian walk demands absolute dependence on the Father for everything!
I can’t recall many details about how that first sermon went that Sunday many years ago but I will never forget the orange booklet and the impact it has had on my life and ministry. My wife and I have read many books about George Mueller and his faith filled life, and for the next few weeks I hope to highlight some powerful lessons we both have gleamed from this spiritual father.