One morning around 700 children stood in the dining room of George Müller’s 19th century orphanage with the tables set ready for breakfast. But there was neither food nor money to buy provisions. Nevertheless, Müller prayed, ‘Dear Father, we thank thee for what thou art going to give us to eat’.
A knock came at the door. A baker stood there. He had come to deliver some fresh bread because during the night he had felt that the Lord wanted him to send some. Almost immediately, there was a second knock. This time it was a milkman whose cart had broken down outside the orphanage. He gave the orphans his fresh milk so that he could fix his cart.
This amazing provision was not a one-off – George Müller regularly saw God at work in his life and ministry. God worked because Müller committed everything to him in prayer, believing the promise in Philippians 4:19: ‘my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to ‘pray without ceasing’. In Müller’s biography there is a summary of one of his sermons, which highlights some of the conditions for answered prayer. Firstly, we must pray according to God’s will (1 John 5:14). Secondly, we must not pray in our own name or merit, for we read: ‘if you ask anything in [Jesus’] name, [he] will do it’ (John 14:14).
Thirdly, according to Mark 11:24, we must exercise faith: ‘whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’. And, fourthly, we must be persistent because God promises: ‘ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).
Therefore, as Philippians 4:6 says, those who are in a right relationship with God need ‘be anxious for nothing’. Rather, says Paul, ‘in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’.
We should do this whether we are at home, at work or even relaxing in the evening – because ‘the prayer of the upright is [the Lord’s] delight’ (Proverbs 15:8).