Prayer and Social Action — George Müller

When I started my Lent series on social justice at Spectrum a couple years ago, I started with the topic of prayer. Here’s a quote from that article:

In preparing for social action, there is one element that should be prioritized—prayer. Because of its importance, this week’s practical step is to pray. Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove remind us that “prayer and action can go together; in fact they must. Otherwise we have little more than a bunch of inactive believers or worn-out activists, and neither do much good for the world” (Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, 2008, p. 12).

That article also included part of the story of when Rick McKinley, Donald Miller and others started praying for the needs of Portland as they started a church plant (you can read more of their accounts in this PDF, and a bit of context for that document here). Prayer is powerful.

Recently, my wife and I have been reading George Müller: Delighted in God (1981), which tells the moving story of how Müller cared for thousands of orphans by relying on prayer (and the God who hears our prayers) to supply his needs. His stories just amaze me–his trust in God, his dedication to prayer, his embrace of risk. And when I came across this paragraph where he reveals his motivation, I wanted to share it with you, A2 blog readers:*

Two new [orphan] Homes with the necessary land…would cost about £50,000. “And how,” people said, “will you be able to accomplish the building, as then the regular current expenses will amount to about £35,000 per year?”

I feel the force of all this [Müller replied] looking at it naturally. I am not a fanatic or an enthusiast, but, as all who know me are well aware, a calm, cool, quiet, calculating businessman; and therefore I should be utterly overwhelmed, looking at it naturally; but as the whole of this work has commenced, and ever has been gone on with in faith, trusting in the living God alone for everything, so it is also regarding this intended enlargement. I look to the Lord alone for helpers, land, means, and everything else needed. I have pondered the difficulties for months, and have looked steadily at every one of them; but faith in God has put every one of them aside.

Indeed, it was  to demonstrate what can be wrought by faith that Müller originally began his work.

My chief object was the glory of God, by giving a practical demonstration as to what could be accomplished simply through the instrumentality of prayer and faith, in order thus to benefit the Church of Christ at large, and to lead a careless world to see the reality of the things of God, by showing them, in this work, that the Living God is still, as four thousand years ago, the Living God. This my aim has been abundantly honoured. Multitudes of sinners have been thus converted, multitudes of the children of God in all parts of the world have been benefited by this work, even as I had anticipated. But the larger the work has grown, the greater has been the blessing, bestowed in the very way in which I looked for blessing; for the attention of hundreds of thousands has been drawn to the work and many tens of thousands have come to see it. All this leads me to desire further and further to labour on in this way, in order to bring yet greater glory to the name of the Lord… That it may be seen how much one poor man, simply by trusting in God, can bring about by prayer; and that thus other children of God may be led to carry on the work of God in dependence upon Him; and that children of God may be led increasingly to trust in Him in their individual positions and circumstances, therefore I am led to this further enlargement. (pp. 157-158)

I see a similar reliance on prayer in two faith-based organizations today working against human trafficking:

If this topic interests you, you might appreciate these three books:

Maybe I need to blog less, pray more, and do more. :)

*NOTE: I intended this blog is to be for, by and about Adventists, so this story focusing on George Müller, Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Donald Miller and Rick McKinley is an exception.

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