Monday, November 21, 2011

George Müller—A man who read his bible on his knees


“The passion of George Müller’s soul was to know fully the secrets of prevailing with God and with man. George Whitefield’s life drove home the truth that God alone could create in him a holy earnestness to win souls and qualify him for such divine work by imparting a compassion for the lost that should become an absorbing passion for their salvation. And—let this be carefully marked as another secret of this life of service—he now began himself to read the word of God upon his knees, and often found for hours great blessing in such meditation and prayer over a single psalm or chapter.” (p. 138-139)
Here is the disclaimer: It is not the posture of prayer that ultimately matters to God. But it is wrong to say that posture doesn’t matter, because our posture often reflects what is happening in our hearts.

After reading this you may be thinking, “Good for George Müller. He has his way and I have mine. God only wants my heart.” Fair enough. But before you shut the “door of self-examination”, please allow me to give some of the reasons this “posture” may help the Christian.

First, this posture reminds us we need the Holy Spirit.

George Müller not only knew the bible, but he knew that he needed the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called our Helper (John 16:7) and His primary role is to help illuminate the scriptures so the Christian can accept it as God’s word. Look at these key passages:

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

For Müller, this posture reinforced his need for the Holy Spirit. It reminded him how much he needed divine guidance. Did George Müller saturate his mind with the scriptures? You bet he did. 4-5 times a year during the last 20 years of his life (age 72-92)! Yet his personal discipline alone did not help him hear and accept the “heartbeat of God”, it was his relentless cry of a child, who knew the best place was in the hands of the Divine Helper.

When is the last time you began your time in the scriptures crying out to the Divine Helper? When is the last time you bowed your heart before the Divine Teacher? School is always in session. Sadly, it is our delinquency that explains the spiritual illiteracy of this generation.

Second, this posture reminds us to approach God’s word with a submissive heart.

It is humbling to get on your knees. When this posture reflects a correct heart attitude, the Christian is ready to receive a word from God. Have you ever tried to pray on your knees with a consistent pattern of sin yet unresolved? I have. It doesn’t work. It can’t. My relationship with my Heavenly Father is fractured and it needs immediate repair. Here is the best part: Either I choose to get right with Him or I choose to get up and walk outside of God’s will. By God’s grace most of the time I get right with God (Psa. 51:4) and then get right with those who I sinned against. In other words, this posture tends to bring me to the place of submission, a place where the Holy Spirit can give me spiritual eyes to see spiritual truth.

Third, this posture reminds us of the importance of biblical meditation.

Though I live in the Western world, the adjective “biblical” is always necessary when bringing “meditation” into the conversation. Here is a good definition (not to be confused with transcendental meditation):
Meditation in the Bible means reflective thinking on biblical truth so that God is able to speak to us through Scripture and through the thoughts that come to mind as we are reflecting on the Word, but that must also be filtered by the Word.”  J. Keathley III
This is seldom practiced in the high-paced lives of American Christians. Too many meetings, too many activities and too many social events make quiet times of reflection impractical for most Christians. Yet it is precisely this practice that set Müller apart from his contemporaries. Müller’s biographer states:
“But perhaps the greatest advantage will be that the Holy Scriptures will thus suggest the very words which become the dialect of prayer. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought”—neither what nor how to pray. But here is the Spirit’s own inspired utterance, and, if the praying be molded on the model of His teaching, how can we go astray? Here is our God-given liturgy—a divine prayer-book.” (p. 140)
If you are like me, maybe you need an example of what this looks like. Here is one of them:
“In meditating over Hebrews 8:8, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,’ Müller would begin translating it into prayer, he besought God, with the confidence that the prayer was already granted, that, as Jesus had already in His love and power supplied all that was needful, in the same unchangeable love and power He would so continue to provide.” (p. 140)
How simple! But again, this mindset is cultivated by faithfully walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), praying in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) and being renewed by the Spirit (Titus 3:5).

Fourth, this posture reminds us this time is worship with God.

How it must grieve God when His children open up the scriptures, but do not listen to Him!

Listen to God’s words in Isaiah 29:13,

Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,

Now some of you will say, “See, kneeling can become a tradition and not an act of worship before God!” I agree, but again….the problem is the heart and not the posture. Can you be worshipful praying standing up? Praying walking around? Praying with your eyes open? Absolutely. But we must also admit that some posture is less reverent or less advantageous than others (i.e. lounging in bed while praying or trying to read scripture while watching T.V.).

I guess the question I want you to ask yourself is this: “Is my posture helping our hindering the goal of worshipping in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)?”

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