Day 91: The Preacher & the Presidents

Mazie Nakhro, Ph.D

 

Billy Graham’s Theme
Text: Read John 3:1-16
The American Experiment

 

Graham was a spiritual adviser to several Presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.

 

Harry S. Truman: In 1950 a congressman called Mr. Graham and asked, “Would you like to meet the President?”  This led to their first meeting and prayer together. Years later, Truman warmly received the Evangelist at his personal home.

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower:  Mr. Graham said,“Eisenhower was the first President that really asked my counsel in depth when he was sending troops into Little Rock.” Just before Eisenhower died, Mr. Graham was invited to see him at Walter Reed Hospital. After talking again about assurance of salvation, the two men prayed. Eisenhower then said he was ready to die.

 

John F. Kennedy: Four days before he was inaugurated as President, Kennedy invited Mr. Graham to spend the day with him in Palm Beach. “During our conversations,” Graham said, “I became aware that he was concerned about the moral and spiritual condition of the nation.” One week before President Kennedy made the fateful trip to Dallas in 1963, Mr. Graham “had an inner foreboding that something terrible was going to happen” to the president while there.

 

Lyndon B. Johnson was considered to be one of Graham’s closest friends. They spent many times together and every time Mr. Graham would say to him, “Let’s have a prayer,” the President would get on his knees to pray. Johnson frequently would call on Graham for more spiritual counseling as well as companionship.

 

Richard Nixon: Often he asked Mr. Graham to pray with him and read the Bible when he would visit. In the last year of Nixon’s presidency, the Evangelist did not get to see him. Someone on the White House later relayed that Nixon said, “Don’t let Billy Graham near me, I don’t want him tarred with Watergate.”

 

Gerald Ford:  “Billy dropped by the Oval Office on several occasions while I was President. They were get-togethers of old friends.”

 

Jimmy Carter: “Billy and Ruth Graham have come to visit us both in the governor’s mansion in Georgia and in the White House,” said Jimmy Carter. “His reputation is above reproach or suspicion.”

 

Ronald Reagan: “It was through Billy Graham that I found myself praying even more than on a daily basis…and that in the position I held, that my prayers more and more were to give me the wisdom to make decisions that would serve God and be pleasing to Him.

 

George H. W. Bush: “Billy Graham has been an inspiration in my life,” said Bush. “It is my firm belief that no one can be President…without understanding the power of prayer, without faith. And Billy Graham helped me understand that.”

 

Bill Clinton:  “Billy and Ruth Graham have practiced the ministry of…being friends with Presidents of both parties…always completely private, always completely genuine.” Mr. Graham stood by Hillary Clinton when her husband was accused of infidelity.

 

George W. Bush said that a turning point in his faith came during a private talk with Mr. Graham along the coast of Maine in 1985. The Evangelist’s words planted the “mustard seed in my soul” that eventually led to a decision to “recommit my heart to Jesus Christ,” he wrote.

 

On October 19, 2012, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association launched a campaign encouraging Americans to vote for biblical values. His message reads:

 

The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

 

Towards the later part of his life, Graham expressed his wish to have been more politically neutral and non-partisan throughout his ministry. In a cable television interview, he said, “I’m not making any [political] endorsements, and I’m staying out of partisan politics. I’m grateful for our system of government, and I strongly urge people to vote–but I don’t endorse any candidate.”

 

Okay, so now what?

 

Many of us may not realize this, but our preachers are truly nation builders.  So, value their service with the highest regard and support them generously.

 
Taken from the book “Breakfast with the King: The 100-Day Devotional” by Mazie Nakhro