To celebrate Billy Graham’s life I am re-posting these articles I wrote back in 2013, having to do with his prayer life. Enjoy.
In this seventh and last part we will review Billy Graham’s autobiography in terms of his prayers in the later years of his life. He was still going strong as he preached in 55 Crusades (from 1985 to 1996), and he went to places that he may have never thought possible.
1985 – 1996
- In 1959, when Billy Graham and Grady Wilson went to Moscow as tourists, they visited Lenin Stadium, and being greatly impressed by its vastness, Billy Graham prayed that someday God would open the door for him and his team to go there and preach the gospel. Thirty years later God answered that prayer. Billy Graham was invited by Russian church leaders to hold a full-scale evangelism crusade in Moscow and other cities in October of 1992. (pp. 380, 556)
- I think one of the highlights of Billy Graham’s ministry was the two Amsterdam’s (in 1983 and 1986) in Holland. They were gatherings of over 5,000 itinerant evangelists from all over the world with the objective of training, helping and encouragement. Billy recalled that the corporate prayer times were especially moving. I can imagine that it was a little chaotic since there were so many different languages spoken in prayer, but Billy said that it was “thrilling to realize that God could understand them all.” (p. 576).
- In 1991, on the day that the Gulf War started, Billy Graham was in the White House with President George Bush and Barbara. As they watched what was happening on CNN on TV Billy suggested that they pray. They prayed that the war would be short and with few casualties. Well as we know the war was very short, with only a few casualties (at least on our side). (p. 585)
- Billy Graham’s two trips to North Korea, in 1992 and 1994, was something he never expected to experience. Foreigners, much less Christian evangelists have not been permitted in that country. But he had a growing desire to go and speak there. God had put it in his heart, mainly, he thought, because it was where Ruth grew up as a missionary in the 30’s, and also because he knew that in that time (the 30’s) Korea (north and south) had a very large Christian population. But sadly, now only a few old Christians remain; the rest have fled, and many have been martyred.
At first, all their efforts to get into Korea turned out to be dead ends. But with continued prayer, a way finally opened up through Dr. Stephen Linton who knew several diplomats. As a result of a one year’s worth of discussion in both New York and Pyongyang, North Korea, an official invitation finally arrived from the Korean Protestant Federation.
Well, as you can imagine Billy Graham was not allowed to preach the gospel as usual to try to bring others to Christ. There were only two churches that he was allowed to preach in—a Protestant church and a Catholic church. He was also invited to speak to students and political leaders—not to preach, but to give academic lectures. In his first visit in 1992 he recounted that to his surprise Kim Il Sung University invited him to deliver a lecture to 400 students. He spoke on “The Influence of Religion on American Society.” On his second visit in 1994, to a much larger group in the same university, he spoke on the major problems facing the world. He recounted, “I pointed out that as a Christian, I was convinced that the root of all our problems came from the human heart, and that our greatest need was spiritual in nature.”
At another time Billy was given the great opportunity to speak to about 1000 political and economic leaders. They were apparently selected to come and hear him and to spy him out—so as to get an advantage on us as Americans. But as we know, what others mean for evil, God can turn it around for good. I have no doubt that the speaking and the friendships Billy made there will come to great good. Possibly many hearts have come to Christ because of those two visits. (pp. 616-632)
- Billy Graham got to know many people in his travels and ministry, and I can imagine that he cherished their friendships. But when they died he also experienced great loss. Billy recalled that in 1968 when Dr. Marten Luther King Jr. died, he lost a great friend. At the time of his death he was playing gulf in Australia. And immediately, when he heard the sad news he had all the journalists and others gather around for prayer. They prayed for the family, for the United States, and for the healing of racial divisions in the world. (p. 696)