How important it is to ascertain the will of God, before we undertake anything, because we are then not only blessed in our own souls, but also the work of our hands will prosper. Just in as many points as we are acting according to the mind of God, in so many are we blessed and made a blessing. Our manner of living is according to the mind of the Lord, for He delights in seeing His children thus come to Him (Matt. 6); and therefore, though I am weak and erring in many points, yet He blesses me in this particular.
First of all, to see well to it, that the work in which he desires to be engaged is God’s work;
secondly, that he is the person to be engaged in this work;
thirdly, that God’s time is come, when he should do this work;
and then to be assured, that, if he seeks God’s help in His own appointed way, He will not fail him. We have ever found it thus, and expect to ﬁnd it thus, on the ground of the promises of God, to the end of our course.
1. Be slow to take new steps in the Lord’s service, or in your business, or in your families. Weigh everything well; weigh all in the light of the Holy Scriptures, and in the fear of God. 2. Seek to have no will of your own, in order to ascertain the mind of God, regarding any steps you propose to take, so that you can honestly say, you are willing to do the will of God, if He will only please to instruct you. 3. But when you have found out what the will of God is, seek for His help, and seek it earnestly, perseveringly, patiently, believingly, and expectingly: and you will surely, in His own time and way, obtain it. We have not to rush forward in self-will and say, I will do the work, and I will trust the Lord for means, this cannot be real trust, it is the counterfeit of faith, it is presumption; and though God, in great pity and mercy, may even help us ﬁnally out of debt; yet does this, on no account, prove that we were right in going forward before His time was come. We ought, rather, under such circumstances to say to ourselves: “Am I indeed doing the work of God?” And if so, I may not be the person to do it; or if I am the person, His time may not yet be come for me to go forward; it may be His good pleasure to exercise my faith and patience. I ought, therefore, quietly to wait His time; for when it is come, God will help. Acting on this principle brings blessing. To ascertain the Lord’s will we ought to use scriptural means. Prayer, the word of God, and His Spirit should be united together. We should go to the Lord repeatedly in prayer, and ask Him to teach us by His Spirit through His word. I say by His Spirit through His word. For if we should think that His Spirit led us to do so and so, because certain facts are so and so, and yet His word is opposed to the step which we are going to take, we should be deceiving ourselves. No situation, no business will be given to me by God, in which I have not time enough to care about my soul. Therefore, however outward circumstances may appear, it can only be considered as permitted of God, to prove the genuineness of my love, faith, and obedience, but by no means as the leading of His providence to induce me to act contrary to His revealed will.”-George Müller, quoted in, A.T. Pierson, George Mueller of Bristol, p. 231,232.
I never remember, in all my Christian course, a period now (in March 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever SINCERELY and PATIENTLY sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the word of God, but I have been ALWAYS directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the word of the living God, I made great mistakes.”-George Müller, quoted in, A.T. Pierson, George Mueller of Bristol
Another fact that grows more conspicuous with the perusal of every new page in his journal is that in things common and small, as well as uncommon and great, he took no step without ﬁrst asking counsel of the oracles of God and seeking guidance from Him in believing prayer. It was his life-motto to learn the will of God before undertaking anything, and to wait till it is clear, because only so can one either be blessed in his own soul or prospered in the work of his hands. [Vol. I.74]. Many disciples who are comparatively bold to seek God’s help in great crises, fail to come to Him with like boldness in matters that seem too trivial to occupy the thought of God or invite the interposition of Him who numbers the very hairs of our heads and suffers not one hair to perish. The writer of this journal escaped this great snare and carried even the smallest matter to the Lord.”-George Müller, quoted in, A.T. Pierson, George Mueller of Bristol, p. 40.
“I seek at the beginning to get my heart in such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine tenths of the difﬁculties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Spirit guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
This calmness of mind, this having no will of my own in the matter, this only wishing to please my Heavenly Father in it, this only seeking His and not my honor in it, this state of heart, I say is the fullest assurance to me that my heart is not under a ﬂeshly excitement, and that, if helped thus to go on, I shall know the will of God to the full.”-Roger Steer, The Spiritual Secrets of George Müller (OMF Books: Robesonia, PA, 1987), pp 40,42 (www.omf.org)
This work of translation she partially accomplished, though somewhat imperfectly; and the whole occurrence impressed Mr. Mueller as an indication that God was once more leading him in the direction of Germany, for another season of labour in his native land. Much prayer deepened his persuasion that he had not misread God’s signal, and that His time had now fully come.
He records some of the motives which led to this conclusion.
1. First, he yearned to encourage believing brethren who for conscience’ sake had felt constrained to separate themselves from the state churches, and meet for worship in such conditions as would more accord with New Testament principles, and secure greater ediﬁcation.
2. Being a German himself, and therefore familiar with their language, customs, and habits of thought, he saw that he was ﬁtted to wield a larger inﬂuence among his fellow countrymen than otherwise.
3. He was minded to publish his Narrative in his own tongue wherein he was born, not so much in the form of a mere translation, as of an independent record of his life’s experiences such as would be specially suited to its new mission.
4. An effectual door was opened before him, and more widely than ever, especially at Stuttgart; and although there were many adversaries, they only made his help the more needful to those whose spiritual welfare was in peril.
5. A distinct burden was laid on his heart, as from the Lord, which prayer, instead of relieving, increased - a burden which he felt without being able to explain - so that the determination to visit his native land gave him a certain peace which he did not have when he thought of remaining at home.
To avoid mistake, with equal care he records the counter-arguments.
1. The new orphan house, No. 4, was about to be opened, and his presence was desirable if not needful.
2. A few hundred pounds were needed, to be left with his helpers, for current expenses in his absence.
3. Money was also required for traveling expenses of himself and his wife, whose health called for a change.
4. Funds would be needful to publish four thousand copies of his Narrative and avoid too high a market price.
5. A matron for the new orphan house was not yet found, suitable for the position.
In this careful weighing of matters many sincere disciples fail, prone to be impatient of delay in making decisions. Impulse too often sways, and self-willed plans betray into false and even disastrous mistakes. Life is too precious to risk one such failure. There is given us a promise of deep meaning: “The meek will He guide in judgment; And the meek will He teach His way.”(Psalm 25:9.) Here is a double emphasis upon meekness as a condition of such guidance and teaching. Meekness is a real preference for God’s will. Where this holy habit of mind exists, the whole being becomes so open to impression that, without any outward sign or token, there is an inward recognition and choice of the will of God. God guides, not by a visible sign, but by swaying the judgment. To wait before Him, weighing candidly in the scales every consideration for or against a proposed course, and in readiness to see which way the preponderance lies, is a frame of mind and heart in which one is ﬁtted to be guided; and God touches the scales and makes the balance to sway as He will. But our hands must be off the scales, otherwise we need expect no interposition of His in our favour.
One sure sign of this spirit of meekness is the entire restfulness with which apparent obstacles to any proposed plan or course are regarded. Then waiting and wishing only to know and do God’s will, hindrances will give no anxiety, but a sort of pleasure, as affording a new opportunity for divine interposition. If it is the Pillar of God we are following, the Red Sea will not dismay us, for it will furnish but another scene for the display of the power of Him who can make the waters to stand up as an heap, and to become a wall about us as we go through the sea on dry ground.
Mr. Mueller had learned this rare lesson, and in this case he says: “I had a secret satisfaction in the greatness of the difﬁculties which were in the way. So far from being cast down on account of them, they delighted my soul; for I only desired to do the will of the Lord in this matter.” Here is revealed another secret of holy serving. To him who sets the Lord always before him, and to whom the will of God is his delight, there pertains a habit of soul, which in advance settles a thousand difﬁcult and perplexing questions.-A. T. Pierson, George Mueller of Bristol, p. 91,92
“Let me here add a word of Christian counsel. To enter upon the marriage union is one of the most deeply important events of life. It cannot be too prayerfully treated. Our happiness, our usefulness, our living for God or for ourselves afterwards, are often most intimately connected with our choice. Therefore, in the most prayerful manner, this choice should be made. Neither beauty, nor age, nor money, nor mental powers, should be that which prompt the decision; but 1st, Much waiting upon God for guidance should be used; 2nd, A hearty purpose, to be willing to be guided by Him should be aimed after; 3rd, True godliness without a shadow of doubt, should be the ﬁrst and absolutely needful qualiﬁcation, to a Christian, with regard to a companion for life. In addition to this, however, it ought to be, at the same time, calmly and patiently weighed, whether, in other respects, there is a suitableness. For instance, for an educated man to choose an entirely uneducated woman, is unwise; for however much on his part love might be willing to cover the defect, it will work very unhappily with regard to the children.”-George Müller, Narratives, Vol. 3
George Müller used the lots three times to make decisions. Each time was a disaster. Speaking of the last two times: “George Mueller resorted to the lot only two more times: once at a literal parting of the ways when he was led by it to take the wrong fork of the road, and afterward in a far more important matter, but with a like result: in both cases he found he had been misled, and henceforth abandoned all such chance methods of determining the mind of God. He learned two lessons, which new dealings of God more and more deeply impressed:
First, that the safe guide in every crisis is believing prayer in connection with the word of God;
Secondly, that continued uncertainty as to one’s course is a reason for continued waiting.
These lessons should not be lightly passed over, for they are too valuable. The ﬂesh is impatient of all delay, both in decision and action; hence all carnal choices are immature and premature, and all carnal courses are mistaken and unspiritual. God is often moved to delay that we may be led to pray, and even the answers to prayer are deferred that the natural and carnal spirit may be kept in check and self-will may bow before the will of God.”