Sunday, May 07, 2017

Faith and the Word: Advice from George Müller

George Müller is well known as a man of faith and prayer, but did you know that he read the Bible nearly two-hundred times! The reason his faith was strong and his prayers were effective was because his mind was filled with the Word of God and his prayers were shaped by the wisdom of God. For Müller, there’s no way to be a person of faith and fruitfulness without a robust commitment to the Bible, and therefore he offered his readers five pieces of advice for Bible reading (Autobiography of George Müller, Westminster Literature, pages 21-22).

First, above all, we should settle in our minds that only God can give insight and help us profit from our time in the Word. Therefore, we should seek him before we read, while we read, and after we read. Since Bible reading is a relational exercise, it should be shot through with prayer.

Second, we should realize that while the Holy Spirit is our teacher, he teaches us in his time and way. Therefore, we may not get the insight or application we seek immediately or easily. Indeed, we may have to repeatedly ask for his help and work toward understanding until he’s ready to open our eyes to his wisdom. So, Müller says, we must seek “for light prayerfully, patiently, and with a view to the glory of God.”

Third, Müller feels that it’s best to read the Bible one book at a time, from the beginning to the end. Reading a small portion from this or that book may seem profitable, but in the end, it is not. God has revealed his will in his way, and therefore we should receive his Word as he delivered it. Müller suggests, then, that we read a little from the Old Testament and a little from the New Testament each day, always starting where we left off the day before.

Fourth, in addition to reading, Müller suggests that meditation is of utmost importance. We must learn to ponder some portion of what we’ve read, or the whole if we’re able. Reading without meditation is like smelling food without eating it—it may be superficially pleasurable but it profits nothing. So we must learn to meditate on something each day so that the Word will inform our minds, inflame our hearts, and give shape to our way of life.

Finally, Müller urges us again to pray, for he suggests that prayer is the most important means of grace after the Word of God itself. He confesses that although he prayed much in his later years, he would have made more progress if he would have prayed with more regularity, fervor, and length in his earlier years.

O Beloved, let us have ears to hear the simple but sage advice of this great man of God! He bore much fruit well into his 90s, not in the least because his mind was filled with the Word of God and his prayers were shaped by the wisdom of God. 

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