When Fruitlessness Leads Us to Pray
George Mueller was a pastor who served his church and cared for hundreds of orphans in the mid-19th century England. He's well known as a man of faith who prayed and sought God over and again for many things.
He writes in his Autobiography,
"January 9. Brother Craik and I have preached during these eighteen months, once a month, at Brislington, a village near Bristol, but have not seen any fruit of our labors there."
Eighteen months of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ once a month is an incredible investment. But there was no fruit. There were none calling on the name of the Lord to be saved. There were none who heeded the words spoken by Mueller and Craik.
I think we all relate to at times feeling at though our labors for the lost have not born fruit. And this can lead us to give up all together or to labor somewhere else. But not George Mueller. He continues,
"This led me, today, very earnestly to pray to the Lord for the conversion of sinners in that place I was also, in the chapel, especially led to pray again about this, and asked the Lord in particular that he would be pleased to convert, at least, one soul this evening, that we might have a little encouragement. I preached with much help, and I hope there has been good done this evening."
Fruitlessness led him not to despair, but to pray. It's no doubt that Mueller prayed each time he and Craik preached in this particular village. But again, afresh, with a desire to see God gloried and to see lost people saved by the grace of God, Mueller prayed.
Where are those places in our lives where we have labored without fruit? And what are we doing in response? Can God save these neighbors? Can he save our families members and co-workers of whom many have heard the gospel several times? He most certainly can. And may fruitlessness drive us to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1) as we pray each day this month for one person By Name. Here's how Mueller ends his entry, with a seemingly appended note,
"[The Lord did according to my request. There was, that evening, a young man brought to the knowledge of the truth.]"
Amen, Lord! Do it in our midst and be glorified!