There are many people throughout church history who provide us with helpful examples of what it means to live by faith. One of those men stands head and shoulders above many—and his name is George Muller. Known in his town of Bristol, England as Muller, he was known as a father to the many orphans he labored to care for and educate.
If you want to learn more about George Muller, you can take a look at the article I wrote after visiting Bristol, England back in 2015. While George Muller provided a great example to follow—especially in the area of prayer. Muller once said, “My chief help is prayer.” Should we bind fellow Christians to his convictions when it comes to living by faith and refusing to ask people directly for financial help?
George Muller’s Rock Solid Faith
After his conversion, George Muller had an insatiable desire to serve God and to not waste his life. In November of 1825, when Muller was 20 years old, he was invited to a Bible study that would change his life. Following his conversion, he would grow to embrace the sovereignty of God over all things—including the salvation of rebel sinners. When people like to use Calvinism as some anti-missions doctrinal position, they often overlook George Muller and his ministry when they flip through history for proof of their beliefs.
During George Muller’s day, there was a severe problem with orphans in all of England. Bristol was overrun with abandoned children and the lifestyle of such children produced rebels who not only became rogues toward the civil law, but intensified their rebellion toward God. Muller prayed for a solution and felt that he should put his faith into action. He was a man of prayer and he prayed for God to provide land, and God provided the land. He then prayed for God to provide the houses, and God provided the houses for the orphans. This was the beginning of a ministry that would change Bristol and impact the world.
The first orphan entered Muller’s care on 11th of April 1836. The first entry into their log books was Charlotte Hill.  Over the course of Muller’s ministry, he would care for over 10,000 orphans and through his ministry beyond his death, 17,000 orphans in total would be ministered to as Muller’s ministry continued after he was gone. Muller was known as a man of prayer. One famous story about Muller’s faith is taken from a specific time when the orphans were out of food:
“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children. 
Notice that when he was told that there was no food for the orphans, he ordered them to be seated and then he prayed and thanked God for the food and waited on God. Soon the food and milk came. This was one of the convictions of Muller. He refused to ask people directly for his needs. He would often pray and ask God to send the supplies, the help, the money, and the food. Through the years, people have embraced this approach as the Muller principle of prayer. Today, many people look to Muller as the prime biblical example of what it means to live by faith and they refuse to ask others for help. Is it sinful to make your needs known?
Stop Condemning People for Disagreeing with Muller
Today, many years after George Muller’s death, the Trust in his name continues to maintain the same principle of prayer as the only means whereby they will ask for money. While we can look to George Muller and be grateful for his strong faith, it would be unwise to demean another fellow Christian for making his or her needs known. While we can look to a wonderful example of faith in the life of George Muller, we can likewise find examples in the Bible where people made their needs known openly and publicly.
The Pattern of the Early Church
The early church is often held up as an example of the local church in the purist sense of biblical community. According to Acts 2:44-45, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” How were the individual members of the early church providing for one another’s needs if they didn’t make it known among the church? It seems clearly evident that they were making their needs known.
The Needs of the Jerusalem Church
The church in Jerusalem has gone through a difficult time and experienced financial burdens. Paul, an apostle to the Gentiles, who was sent out by the church at Antioch, traveled around and made the need known to the Gentile believers (1 Cor. 16:1-4). In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, we see that Paul is mentioning the believers in Macedonia as relevant examples of faith as he urges the church at Corinth to live in like manner.
The early church in Acts and Paul’s ministry that would come a bit later are examples of Christians working together to meet the needs that had been made known. There is nothing wrong with making known a need and asking for assistance in operating a ministry for the glory of God. An organization or an individual Christian may adopt the Muller principle by turning to prayer alone to trust God for their needs. However, if a Christian family in your church or a Christian organization beyond the borders of your church makes a need known and respectfully asks for help—don’t question their faith.
One thing we can all learn from George Muller and from the biblical examples is that they refused to make the church community look like a bunch of hucksters who were trying to scam their communities. Not everyone who asks for help is on the same level as a Kenneth Copeland and we should guard the people of the gospel from appearing like religious scam artists when we make our needs known.
- Roger Steer, George Muller – Delighted in God (Christian Focus Publications, Denmark, 2012), 65
- “George Mueller, Orphanages Built by Prayer”