Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

Prayer: The Power Behind the Life and Preaching of Billy Graham, Part 1 (Praying Through the Bible #285)

Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

TEXT: Luke 6:12

And it came to pass in those days, that [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.


We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 284 messages in this series.

This is message #285 titled, Prayer: The Power Behind the Life and Preaching of Billy Graham.

As many of you probably know by now, Billy Graham, the great evangelist who preached the Gospel live before millions and via radio and television to millions more, has died at 99. Right now, many are writing about, speaking about, and pondering what made his ministry and testimony so powerful — so powerful that he was called on by twelve U.S. presidents and the Queen of England for counsel and advice. Well, Billy Graham told us what made his ministry so powerful. He said, “Prayer is crucial in evangelism: Only God can change the heart of someone who is in rebellion against Him. No matter how logical our arguments or fervent our appeals, our words will accomplish nothing unless God’s Spirit prepares the way.”

Billy Graham got his example in prayer from Jesus Christ Himself whom the Gospels record many times as praying. The passage we have just read today states that Jesus “went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Regarding this particular verse, Warren Wiersbe writes: “Jesus spent the whole night in prayer because He was about to call His twelve apostles — His chosen messengers — from among the many disciples who were following Him. Why did He pray all night? For one thing, He knew that opposition to Him was growing and would ultimately result in His crucifixion, so He prayed for strength as He faced the path ahead. Also, He wanted the Father’s guidance as He selected His twelve apostles, for the future of the church rested with them. Keep in mind that one of the Twelve would betray Him, and Jesus knew who he was from the beginning. Our Lord had real human emotions, and it was through prayer that He made this difficult choice.”

In light of Jesus’ example and the great impact that one of His ambassadors has had on the church and the world, I would like to share with you briefly from a sermon Billy Graham delivered titled, “Power When You Pray”:

Many people like to believe that they are the masters of their own fate. That phrase is taken from a poem titled “Invictus” by the British author William Henley. He wrote:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

These lines have become favorites among atheists and agnostics. It all sounds brave on paper but when death took Henley’s six-year-old daughter, Margaret, he was heartbroken and began to realize that he was not the master of his fate. When he died, all his bravado had disappeared. We are not the masters of our fate individually or collectively. How can men boast that they control their own destiny when viruses invisible even under powerful microscopes lay low tens of thousands of people every year? How can our country insist that with our military might, our tremendous wealth, and our foreign alliances, we are the masters of our own fate when history testifies that
God shapes the course of nations and oversees the rise and fall of political leaders? The world continues to wrestle with poverty, war, disease, and ignorance. As the population continues to explode, America is caught up in a stream of history that is beyond her ability to control. There is only one power available to change the course of history, and that is the power of prayer—the prayer of God-fearing, Christ-believing men and women. But today we have come to a place where many people regard prayer as simply a formality. We have no sense of coming to grips with God, except for the continuation of a venerated tradition. Yet how can we go on unless there is a renewed emphasis on prayer?

Thousands of people pray only in times of great stress, danger or uncertainty. However, Christ instructed His followers to always pray. So fervent and so direct were the prayers of Jesus that once when He had finished praying, His followers turned to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

What a glorious thing it would be if millions of us would avail ourselves of the privilege of prayer! Jesus Christ died to make this communion and communication with the Father possible. He told us of the joy in Heaven when one sinner turns from sin to God and breathes the simple prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” In scores of passages, Jesus Christ offered further guidance, and because He practiced what He preached, His whole life was a series of lessons on prevailing prayer. Jesus had only three years of public ministry, yet He was never too hurried to spend hours in prayer.

How quickly and carelessly, by contrast, we pray. We utter snatches of memorized verses hastily in the morning, then we say goodbye to God for the rest of the day until we rush through a few closing petitions at night. This is not the prayer program that Jesus outlined. Jesus pleaded long and repeatedly. It is recorded that He spent entire nights in fervent appeal. But how little perseverance and persistence and pleading we show!

Luke 18:1 says, Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The Scripture also says, “Pray without ceasing.” This should be the motto of every follower of Jesus Christ. Never stop praying, no matter how dark and hopeless your case may seem. There is power in prayer.

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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.

He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.