By: Mark Baker
I just finished reading a biography of George Müller. All over the world, Müller’s name has become a byword for effectual prayer. Near the end of his life, Müller recorded that he has received over 30,000 answers to prayer—and each of these answers to prayer came within the same day of his prayer—some even within the same hour! In 1880, Müller preached a remarkable sermon on prayer where he outlined four conditions on which successful prayer depends:
(1) Prayer must be according to the will of God.
(2) The basis of the answer to prayer must not be founded on our own goodness or merit but rather on Christ (cf. John 14:13-14).
(3) Our prayer must be backed by faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers (cf. Mark 11:24)
(4) We must be willing to patiently wait until the “yes” answer is received.
Though Müller clearly demonstrated faith in God’s ability to immediately answer prayer, he was also accustomed to waiting for long periods of time for God’s answer. This lengthy quote, taken from Müller’s 1880 sermon on prayer, is helpful in demonstrating such a powerful dynamic of prevailing prayer:
“In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without one single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God, and prayed for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years more passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remain unconverted. The man to whom God in the riches of His grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer, in the self-same day or hour in which they were offered, has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these two individuals, and yet they remain unconverted; for next November it will be thirty-six years since I began to pray for their conversion. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer” (George Muller: Delighted in God 193).
One of the two unconverted individuals became a Christian before Müller’s death, and the other was converted shortly after Müller left this earth. Whether it is faith for an answered prayer that is needed within the hour, or faith to prevail in prayer for a lifetime, Müller’s testimony points us to the God who is faithful to answer the prayers of his people.