I am going to flip my usual format for this post. Rev. Müller added an appendix to the book Answers to Prayer (or his editor did since the book was published after his death). This appendix is entitled Five Conditions of Prevailing Prayer. After I read the short book, Rev. George Müller’s book, Answers to Prayer, I had this burning desire to have a piece of what Rev. Müller had, effective and prevailing prayer. All text below in bold italics represent quotes from Answers to Prayer. All text in italics only are Scriptures recommended byRev. Müller.
This post should be considered my second confession, two days in a row. In reading these five conditions, I have been guilty of not following all five from time to time. Oh, to have the faith of Rev. Müller …
To have prevailing prayer, you should meet all five conditions listed below:
Entire dependence upon the merits and meditations of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only ground of any claim for blessing.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
- John 14:13-14
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
- John 15:16
Rev. Müller ends his list of Bible verses at this point, but he suggests that he could have gone on to more promises that God will provide through the Lord Jesus Christ. I have shied away from such verses. It smacks of the prosperity Gospel when not connected to the provision that our will must be aligned with God’s will and plan for our lives. We often bang our head against the wall and wonder why God does not deliver, when we are not aligned with His plan for our lives and His will in general. We might serve others better while living among them, rather than living in a gated community in a sterilized environment. Then again, those people in the gated community need God as much as the less fortunate.
But in reading Rev. Müller’s book, it reads like a business ledger. (My example to illustrate.) “We prayed for hours, then there was a knock at the door, and an old lady gave us £2.” The point was that when something was needed, God provided after Rev. Müller got on his knees. Rev. Müller seemed to be in a constant state of need throughout his ministry, but when you realize what Rev. Müller did with that money, you will see why the blessings never ceased to flow.
Rev. George Müller founded the Ashley Downs Orphan-House (as he called it, instead of orphanage) in Bristol, England where he cared for over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime. He was also one of the founders of the Pilgrim Brethren movement. And to read his book, it seemed he spent more time on his knees than he did standing.
Separation from all known sin. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us, for it would be sanctioning sin.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
- Psalm 66:18-20
Have you ever asked God for something that might have been the wrong thing to ask for? Maybe not a Mercedes Benz, as Janis Joplin asked for in her song, but something that might have caused you to sin if you received it?
Note that Rev. Müller speaks of ‘known sin’ in that we may not be aware of a sin until the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.
Faith in God’s word of promise as confirmed by His oath. Not to believe Him is to make Him both a liar and a perjurer.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- Hebrews 11:6
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
- Hebrews 6:13-20
Unwavering faith seemed to mark Rev. Müller’s life. He went to his knees knowing that there would be a knock at the door. He says in the book that he never asked anyone directly for the money and other considerations; it came from prayer. Imagine that. An orphanage that indeed had an orphan box, but he never got in the pulpit to tell people that they needed to increase their giving, or to simply give.
Asking in accordance with His will. Our motives must be godly: we must not seek any gift of God to consume it upon our lusts.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
- 1 John 5:14-15
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
- James 4:3
That is the basis of my concerns regarding the prosperity Gospel peddlers. God does not give us diamond rings and luxury yachts, unless for some strange reason having them glorifies God and is needed in serving God.
Importunity in supplication. There must be waiting on God and waiting for God, as the husbandman has long patience to wait for the harvest.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
- James 5:7
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
- Luke 18:1-8
And then we come to the rub. It is often not a quick prayer and a knock at the door. We pray a lot and we wait, while praying even more. It is not that God is hard of hearing, but God is waiting for that right moment to show everyone that only God could have been the One setting all the gears in motion. God may be just in time, but God is on time.
And praise the Lord that He is on time.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.