“I’d rather hear my father pray than anybody in the world.” – Billy Graham
Billy Graham grew up on a dairy farm during the Great Depression and looked up to a father who showed the example of joy, perseverance, humor, and trust in the Lord during difficult circumstances. After Billy Graham’s father, Frank Graham (William Franklin Graham Sr.) lost almost everything in the Depression he showed a joy that could only come from the Lord.
“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” – Pslam 33:21
Billy Graham shares a story in his autobiography, Just As I Am, of a time when his father showed joy in a time of distress:
“In the Depression, our dairy farm barely survived when milk got down to 5 cents a quart. After the stock market crash of 1929, and the bank holiday that President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered in 1933 under his National Industrial Recovery Act, my father nearly went broke. At first he was confident that his bank in Charlotte would reopen, but it did not. He couldn’t even write a check to pay his bills. He had to start over from scratch. It took him months to recover from the blow. Yet business reverses never stifled my father’s sense of humor. While he had cause to be melancholy or depressed, he was anything but that. There were down moments, of course, when the rains did not come and the crops did not grow, or when a prize cow died. But in spite of the hardships, he found much to laugh about. People loved to come to our place from all around the neighborhood just to hear him tell his jokes. His dry sense of humor kept us laughing by the hour.”
The joy of the Lord shone through Frank Graham in the way he led his family and how he ministered to his children, and that joy was contagious. Billy Graham learned from his father what it looked like to work hard, how to pray, and how to find joy under difficult circumstances. Only the Lord knew that a North Carolina farmer was being used to raise a man who would, later on, spread the Gospel to many nations.
“Every time my parents prayed for their sons and daughters, they were declaring their dependence on God for the wisdom and strength and courage to stay in control of life, no matter what the circumstances might bring. Beyond that, they prayed for their children, that they might come into the kingdom of God.”
Billy Graham, Just As I Am
The power of prayer has the ability to change everything. We know that even when our circumstances don’t change, prayer gives us hope in the Lord. Frank Graham demonstrated that hope even through the difficult circumstances during the Great Depression, giving his family an example of strength and security.