I’m a history nerd so it should be of no surprise that this final part of the series won’t start in 1961 with the birth of my mom, but rather 1836. That’s the year that George Müller began his orphan ministry in Bristol, England.
If you asked any preacher or evangelical reader (worth their salt) for a great resource on learning more about the power of prayer, they will undoubtedly point you to George Müller.
Müller built five houses for orphaned children, staffed those houses, clothed, fed and educated all those children, and shared the gospel with every single one of them – all in hopes of giving Bristol’s most vulnerable and destitute a hope and a future. And it wasn’t cheap. Müller had no real revenue stream to feed these children, provide them with needed healthcare or even fix broken heating systems in the brutal England winters. But, what he did have was a big God who hears and answers prayer.
If Müller had a need (and who, running an orphanage wouldn’t?), he didn’t petition state boards of health or large church congregations. He didn’t even include his worries in his letters to personal friends. He petitioned God. Known as a man fully devoted to a life of prayer, he prayed for truly every need the orphanage ever had and through God’s provision, over 10,000 young Victorians were cared for before his death.
I know this is a lot of history here, but hang with me.
In 1931 (many years after Müller’s death), a former orphan from Müller’s house was asked about the conditions of his childhood given that most orphanages in England at that time were mostly characterized as places of horrible nightmare-like conditions. He said, “What a witness to the loving care of our Heavenly Father. I was in the schools Nos 2 and 3 eight years. Someone lately asked me if we were ever short of food while there. I said “No”. Never one meal was missing, neither did we think there would be, for we knew in whom we trusted.” On many occasions, there would either be no money for food, or no food in the Houses, and yet no meal was ever missed. On one occasion, the children gave thanks for breakfast, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone. This was a rare treat, as normally bread was two days old (and thus stale) when purchased, in order to conserve funds. At other times, an unsolicited gift of money would arrive in time for supplies to be purchased.”
God had truly provided all Müller’s needs and answered every prayer. These prayers might have started in 1836, but the answers and provision of those prayers from God continue through the generations of those 10,000 lives.
My mother prayed for me
My parents struggled to conceive so they went to God with their desire for a child. Now, I’ve written on my thoughts on adoption here, but for my parents, the desire to conceive a child was a deep desire they both felt and prayed for. Through God’s sovereignty and provision, he granted that desire and my I am a living testimony to those prayers.
Not long after my mom passed I needed to look through all of her (many, many) books, journals, Bibles and Bible studies. Partly to see her hand-writing and partly to look at her thoughts and words. When you lose someone so dynamic in your life, you long to hear them. Now understand, my mother is fully in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8) but in that chapter of grief, I needed to see her thoughts – her words. And what I found were her prayers. Handwritten prayers from differing years, times and moments in her life, not just cancer. Prayers for her husband, her spiritually lost family members, her co-workers who were struggling with sickness, ladies in the Sunday School class who were in struggling marriages, but it was always a deep swallow when I would read her prayer requests for us, her children.
How she prayed for mine and my brother’s salvation. She prayed for our choice in friends. She prayed for our safety. She prayed for future decisions. She prayed for our health. She prayed for our careers. These things stop me in my tracks because some of these things she prayed for, but never saw this side of heaven.
She wouldn’t live to be at my brother’s wedding but she prayed for him to find a godly wife and to be a spiritual leader in his future home, and God graciously answered that prayer for exactly that.
The power of dying mother
The hardest thing my mother ever said to me was not that she was dying. Though, that in itself was the hardest thing she had yet said to me. The hardest part would come in the weeks leading up with her death.
After the truth of a two-month prognosis was given, my mom seemed to live the remainder of her life in a true unsurpassing peace. We were shook. She was calm.
In the quietness of a rainy afternoon, in a room that only held her and I, she looked over to me and uttered the hardest words I’ve ever heard. “I’m not going to miss you.”
It wasn’t said with any hint of malice, anger or even sarcasm and it wasn’t received with any hint of hurt, but that statement landed like a ton of bricks right on my chest. Not because of the sting, but because of the truth of it. She wasn’t going to miss me. We’d miss her for the rest of our days, but she was going where Jesus was and wherever Jesus was, it wasn’t going to remind her of former things.
That’s the peace she had.
How does one obtain that kind of peace in the midst of death’s dark valley?
I can tell you, my mother was there because that was what she had prayed for. That’s where God had led her.
Well before cancer, it had long been my mother’s practice to kneel at her bedside and pray before bed. After her diagnosis, the practice was no different except that as her body grew weaker, the practice became more labored.
Her prayers (and the prayers of so very many people during that time) had been answered. She asked God for peace and comfort and that’s exactly what he gave – in ways more abundantly than we could have ever imagined.
I was reminded of this in a very real way just a few weeks ago.
Easter was my mom’s favorite holiday. “As Christians, we get to celebrate big!” she would say.
This Easter a precious lady from her former Sunday School class, and now a beloved student in mine, brought to me a little slip of paper that had been tucked away in her Bible for at least 8 years.
I knew the handwriting before I knew what any of the words were – it was my mom’s.
The words were simple:
“Pray for our daughter Lacey as she looks for a job. Karla”
She wrote this after I had lost a job that I invested everything into and left feeling incredibly crushed. The job I took not long after her death was one I never would have imagined being at and one that she’ll never know about. But she prayed for it. And God provided it.
We never know the prayers that God is answering today from beloved Christian family and friends who years ago spoke to God on our behalf – praying for our salvation, our sanctification and for us to trust him no matter what. But I’d bet if we could hear from them today, cheering from heaven, I’m sure it would be the whole realm of heaven telling us of the worth and worthiness of trusting our prayers and provision in the power of Jesus Christ.