Today, the body of ‘America’s Pastor,’ the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol – just down the street from my office at the Center for National Renewal. Dr. Graham’s earthly body was laid on a mattress pad in a simple casket made of pine plywood by prison workers in Louisiana State Penitentiary. What a powerful picture of the end of every person – small or great – and the reminder of the simple gospel he preached.
The Evangelist preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people in his more than 400 crusades in nearly 185 countries. Billy Graham offered spiritual support and guidance for United States presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. He was a friend to celebrities, politicians, athletes, and leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Muhammad Ali, Johnny Cash, Larry King, and WWII hero and Olympian Louis Zamperini. His life and ministry embodied the principles on which the Center For National Renewal is founded – Intercession, Reconciliation, Education, and Influence. Consider these powerful quotes from Dr. Graham:
"This should be the motto of every follower of Jesus Christ. No matter how dark and hopeless a situation might seem, never stop praying."
“Christ belongs to all people. He belongs to the whole world.…I reject any creed based on hate…Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black.”
"True greatness is not measured by the headlines a person commands or the wealth he or she accumulates. The inner character of a person— the undergirding moral and spiritual values and commitments—is the true measure of lasting greatness."
“We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”
Here are some excerpts from his prayers:
Billy Graham in Sacramento, California – 1983
… Our Father and our God, we pray that in this period of crisis in our world that the Holy Spirit will use it to remind us of our need of Thee and our relationship with Thee and we pray that tonight if our relationship is not right that we’ll make it right through Jesus Christ our Lord who came to die on the cross because He loved us. For we ask it in His Name. Amen.
Billy Graham’s Inaugural Prayer – 1997
Lord … remind us today that You have shown us what is good in what You require of us; to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. We ask that as a people, we may humble ourselves before You and seek Your will for our lives and for this great nation. Help us in our nation to work as never before to strengthen our families and to give our children hope and a moral foundation for the future. So may our desire be to serve You, and in so doing, serve one another. This we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Billy Graham in New York – 1957
Our Father and our God, we pray that … we all might be conscious that Thine eye is upon us. If God can see the sparrow fall, if He has the hairs of our head numbered, we know that He watches us, that He loves us, that He cares for us, and we’re told in Thy Word that He cares for us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to the cross to die that we might find forgiveness of our sins. We pray … that Thy Holy Spirit will draw all men unto the Savior, for we ask it in His Name. Amen.
As a partner in our nation’s renewal, I invite you to pray some of Dr. Graham’s prayers for our nation and let them inspire your own prayer this week. In his own words, Dr. Graham prophesied, "I firmly believe God continues to answer the prayers of His people even after He has taken them to heaven. Never forget that God isn’t bound by time the way we are. We see only the present moment; God sees everything. We see only part of what He is doing; He sees it all. "
Together, let’s take up his mantle of prayer, statesmanship, and reconciliation. Today, we remember his legacy and appeal to God to save our nation.