Does God Answer Prayer?
Does God really hear and answer the prayers of men? Is the plan of taking our problems, needs, and difficulties to God in prayer a workable one?
Let us take a look at God's dealings with George Mueller, a man who said "I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the subject of showing what may be accomplished by prayer and faith." Let us see how God honors a life thus dedicated.
One of the main works of his life was the establishment of a large orphanage at Bristol, England. During the 64 years from the outset of this work in 1884 until he went to his reward in 1898, Mr. Mueller cared for 10,024 orphans, established 7 day-schools which 81,501 children attended, founded 12 Sunday schools which instructed a total of 82,944 children, and aided 25 Sunday schools in England and Wales. Not all his labors, however, were for children. He contributed large sums of money to foreign mission work, distributed 1,989,266 Bibles and parts thereof, circulated 8,101,888 books and tracts, and traveled in 42 countries preaching the gospel to 3 millions of hearers. In all he received from and gave back to God $7,500,000, at no time asking anyone for as much as a penny.
At times, large sums were given to him for his personal benefit, but he only used what was absolutely necessary, giving the remainder for God's work.
He was a man who knew by experience what it is for God to "give us this day our daily bread." He remarked, "From August 1888 to April 1849 we had day by day, almost without interruption, to look to Him for our daily supplies and for a great part of the time, from meal to meal." Yet he could say, "There never was a time when we had no wholesome meal."
Material provisions were not the only thing this man of God received in answer to his prayers. He made this statement: "Thousands of souls have been saved in answer to my prayers. I shall meet ten thousands of them in heaven."
God answered his prayers in marvelous way. The answers came at what we would call the last minute, but God was always on time.
One night Mr. Mueller invited Dr. A. T. Pierson, a visitor at the orphanage, to join him in prayer. Mr. Mueller told Dr. Pierson that there was absolutely nothing in the house for breakfast. Although Mueller's visitor reminded him that the stores were already closed, they prayed. The next morning there was food not only for breakfast, but enough to feed 2,000 children for a month. Later it was learned that the benefactor had awakened in the middle of the night, feeling that the Lord wanted him to send provisions for the orphanage. This he did, although he did not know that the two men were at prayer.
What was the secret of his power with God? Notice what his prayer habits were. He took time to be alone with God in prayer, meditation, and Bible study. He would study the Bible on his knees. He spent hours every day in prayer. He said, "I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise. And the answers are always coming. Ten thousands of times my prayers have been answered. When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it until the end comes. I never give up!"
Here are five conditions of prevailing prayer which were always before his mind.:
- Entire dependence upon the merits and meditation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only ground of any claim for blessing. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
- Separation from all known sin. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18).
- Faith in God's word of promise as confirmed by His oath. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him. . ." (Hebrews 11:6).
- Asking in accordance with His will. Our motives must be Godly. "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3).
- Importunity in supplication. There must be a waiting on and for God, as the husbandman has long patience to wait for the harvest. "And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7).
In connection with the last point it is of interest to know that George Mueller prayed for two men daily for over 50 years. One of these men was saved shortly before Mueller's death; the other, less than a year later.
Mr. Mueller insisted, "The great point is to never give up until the answer comes."