Billy Graham and Lyndon Johnson had a close friendship. Of Johnson, Billy wrote in his autobiography, “LBJ was a powerful, gigantic personality whose charisma dominated a room the minute he entered it. The focus of attention and even the balance of power automatically shifted to him. He could be coarse and charming at the same time, and even profanely poignant. Almost every time he swore in my presence, he would quickly turn and say, ‘Excuse me, Preacher.’”
Johnson continued the tradition of the National Prayer Breakfast during his presidency, and while speaking at it in 1964, he said, “No man can live where I live, nor work at the desk where I work now, without needing and seeking the strength and support of earnest and frequent prayer.” Johnson attended church, sometimes two or three times a week, during the course of his presidency and leaned strongly on his faith as he served his country. Whenever he prayed with Billy, he would get on his knees and bow his head in reverence to his Maker.
Not long after Johnson returned to Texas following his presidency, he wrote a letter to Billy: “No one will ever fully know how you helped to lighten my load or how much warmth you brought into our house… My mind went back to those lonely occasions at the White House when your prayers and your friendship helped to sustain a President in an hour of trial.”
The Billy Graham Library is featuring an exhibit Pastor to Presidents highlighting Billy Graham’s friendships with our nation’s Executive Office. The exhibit runs through December 31, 2020. For more information on the exhibit, visit www.billygrahamlibrary.org.