Got Great Faith?

George Müller is one of my historic heroes. He was a German evangelist who felt called to take care of the poorest children in Bristol, England in the 1800’s. He preached to small groups of people and received no salary. Müller felt his only financial support should come voluntarily from people. He prayed and God provided. It was as simple as that. Some would call George naïve and simple-minded. Yet, George had great faith.

I read recently about a time when he was crossing the ocean on a ship to preach in Quebec. He told the captain of the ship that he had to be there by a given time to make his appointment. The captain told him it was impossible. Müller said, “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way, for I have never missed an engagement in fifty-seven years. Let’s go down to the chartroom to pray.”[1] The captain, though a believer in prayer himself, had quite a few doubts. But he got on his knees with George. Müller prayed the simplest prayer, asking God to clear the fog and get the ship there on time. When the captain took his turn to begin to pray, George tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You don’t need to pray. God has already answered.”  With that, George and the captain got up off their knees and looked outside. The fog was completely cleared, and George made it on time to his appointment. Where did that simple but great faith come from? 

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there; and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). I want the faith that Jesus spoke about and George Müller had. It may be a simple faith. Some would call it childlike faith. However, here’s what I know: God honors that kind of faith. It’s possible for us alone, but it can be achieved through some intentional choices on our part.

Intentional Choices to Cultivate Faith

Take a Risk. Yup. You read that right. If you’re not willing to lay aside safety and take a risk, you can’t exercise your faith muscle. George didn’t take a salary; instead, he took a risk and decided to see if God would lay it on people’s hearts to give. That’s a huge risk. It’s not safe and some might argue it was downright foolish. Yet, George had childlike faith and stepped out. It’s a bit like Peter when he took a risk and stepped out of the boat (Matthew 14:27-30).

Claim the Promises Given in Scripture. I believe that God’s Word is living and active and that the Holy Spirit can use scripture very specifically in my life and yours. As I’m reading scripture, I often find a promise that seems to jump off the page at me and I know in my spirit that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. I circle the promise and pray it over the next few days, claiming it over some area of my life. I put a date in the margin of my Bible next to the promise. Months or even years later I go back, and it is amazing to see how many times God has answered those prayers. You might say that’s foolish. I don’t believe so. Try it yourself and see what God does in your life. 

Praise God in Advance for His Answer. There is great favor from the Lord when we choose to praise Him in advance for His work. When the Apostle Paul was in the middle of a storm on his way to Rome andcrew members were all having a ‘freak out’ moment, Paul said, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me” (Acts 27:25).Paul praised God in advance for the safety of the crew members. He believed that God had promised that no one would die in the storm and trusted the word He heard from the Lord. When you and I choose to praise God in advance for how He will work, we give God the honor and glory He deserves. 

Friend, growing your faith is a life-time journey. You might feel like your faith is not very strong, but may I encourage you: start by praying, and then taking a risk. Claim the promises of scripture and practice praising God in advance. Gradually, your faith that’s the size of a mustard seed will grow into a flourishing strong faith.

[1] L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997), 314