from the Billy Graham Library

In His Own Words: Billy Graham’s Favorites

January 15, 2013

Recently named to Gallup’s “Most Admired” list for the 56th time, Billy Graham has long been considered a leader in the Christian community. As a result, there are a number of questions that he’s received from reporters and individuals alike – questions that many Christians enjoy discussing in church halls and around the table at Bible studies. Today on the blog, we bring you the answers to some of these questions. Enjoy, and please share with us some of your favorites.

Billy Graham answers questions from a group of students.

What is Billy Graham’s favorite Bible verse?

In a statement in 1995, Billy Graham said this:

“My favorite verse of Scripture was taught to me by my mother when I was just a little boy.

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. John 3:16

This is the one Scripture that I always preach on in a crusade, usually on the opening night. I suppose it is the most familiar passage in the Bible. It has only twenty-five words in the English translation of it, but it is the Gospel in a nutshell. Someone has called it a miniature Bible. The word “whosoever” in this verse means the whole world. Whatever the color of a person’s skin, whatever language he speaks, God loves him and God is willing to save him. To me that is marvelous. It also says that life doesn’t begin when you die, it begins here and now.”

What is Billy Graham’s favorite Bible story or passage?

In an interview with U.S. News and World Report in 1988, Billy Graham had this to say in response this question:

“Well, of course, if you are in the New Testament, I would say the Gospels. The Gospel of John is what I have preached the most because it is filled with stories. You know Jesus taught by using stories and I like to use stories to illustrate what I am saying. The fifteenth chapter of Luke which is the story of the prodigal son. The love of the father. How God loves us no matter what we do, where we go, how we live, He loves us. And I can’t get over the love and mercy and grace of God. Every day I marvel at it, that God could love me, Billy Graham, with all my failures and weaknesses.

Then in the Old Testament, the Psalms. One half of all the quotes that Jesus made from the Old Testament came from the book of Psalms, because the psalmist lived every experience that we live. He was up one day and down the next. He had every kind of thought. Then he would talk to God about it.”

Mr. Graham went on to share how he and his late wife Ruth would read five chapters of Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs a day. He explained that Psalms teaches you how to get along with God and Proverbs teaches you how to get along with man.

What is Billy Graham’s favorite hymn?

Billy Graham has been asked this question often, and he has a number of hymns that he’s particularly fond of. In 1992 during an interview with Diane Sawyer, Billy Graham spoke about his partiality to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which also happened to be President Eisenhower’s favorite hymn.

He also recounted his memories of George Beverly Shea singing “Complete in Thee” and how powerful of a message that is for all of us, meaning “we are complete when we’re in Christ.” Another song from George Beverly Shea is on Billy Graham’s short list: “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

Cliff Barrows, Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea

And, of course, “Just As I Am” is special, as it was sung at Crusades for more than 60 years. Billy Graham told Jane Robelot of CBS in 1997:

“It’s a song that was written many years ago and it has special meaning to all of us because they don’t have to go home and rearrange their lives; they can come just as they are, no matter how they are dressed, no matter what language they speak or what their sins are in their background. They come to Christ and He puts His arms of love around them, forgives them and changes them.”

But, when asked in 2005, without hesitation, he answered that his favorite hymn is “And Can it Be.” Written in the 18th century by Charles Wesley, the words are powerful and centered on the Gospel:

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

What are your favorite Bible verses, passages or hymns?

Leave a Comment

    • Patricia Rudy

      Hi Dorothy, I totally agree with you about these songs that you list and the old songs in general. When I sing along to “Jesus Loves Me” it makes me cry every single time! They were written with such talent and sincere emotion. There is so much about our World now that is terrible and difficult, so a little time spent with these wonderful songs can feed my soul! Thanks for your remarks!

  1. Ruby Rose Allemand

    Assurance of salvation 1John5:11,12 And this is a testimony:God has given us eternal life,and this lifeis in His Son.Hehow has the Son has life,he who dose not have the Son of God dose not have life. my favorite hymn is I surrender all,I love the whole Bible cover to cover,I’m so blessed to live in America, where I can freely read my Bible as I please how ever many times a day.and get to see Christian programs, love your Billy Graham Classices Mr.Graham I enjoy listening to your voice preaching you do it so well some day I will get to meet u not in this world,I know I’m 41 years old and I love all the old hymns I think this is why I never get tired of watching your program when it’s aired .Psalm 90:10 also I Thank God for giving you to us . I love that you make us laugh, with your jokes or stories,that it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you .also Thank you for you son Franklin for you are Blessed to have a son willing to follow in your footsteps,

  2. I think Billy Graham is one of the greatest teachers that ever was. I have turned to his words often in my life. I love the fact that he will admit to not having all the answers. That is honesty to me. He is dear to my heart.

  3. I agree with Billy Graham on all of that. I also like Galations 2:20. The song Until Then has helped me through some dark vallys. I like the story of David and Goliath because Davide said to Goliah, You come to me with a sword and a spear and a shield,but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts.

  4. Marjorie Bailey

    Favorite Bible Verse:
    “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
    for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
    Favorite Songs:
    I Know My Redeemer Lives
    Amazing Grace

  5. Susie Eisenhardt Johnson

    My favorite vereses..
    Jon14:6..”I am the way,the truth and the ,ife, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”.
    Psalms 100:1-5, Psalms 46:10..”Be still and know that I am God…”.
    My favorie hymns: In the Garden, Make me a blessing, Living for Jesus,,Wonderful Grace of Jesus, There’s a song in the air, Jesus Loves Me, and so many more.
    My favorite Christian songs: It took a Miracle, He touched me, His Eye is on the sparrow, The Lords Prayer, Would You Believe, God So Loved The World
    Favorite Bible stories: Ruth and Boaz, The woman at the well, The account of Christs birth in Luke, Daniel and the Lions den

  6. mari lindgren

    We are not complete without Jesus and God and the holy spirit and wherefor this life in earth is not a real life. WE are so longing after the heaven and to be all together their.

  7. Susan Beurket

    My favorite hymns are “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory”. There is another that I remember from childhood, but I don’t know the name, just a few of the words: “I’ve got a home in glory land that outshines the sun – Look away, beyond the blue, blue, blue, blue…”. Does anyone out there remember that one? What is the title? My favorite Psalms are #1 & #100.

  8. Rich Wilkinson

    My favorite verse is Joshua 24:15 “…but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    Most of the old hymns make me cry. The Old Rugged Cross, Blessed Assurance, In the Garden by George B. Shea, Amazing Grace and more recently Bocelli singing with the Mormon Choir The Lords Prayer ~ it will shake you.

  9. John McQuoid

    I thank God for B.G. and for the Saviour he preaches. I am in the same ”Business” as Billy, serving the Lord Jesus Christ in and beyond my own country. What a Day it will be when the Lord returns to the air (1 Thessalonians 4), raises from the grave those who have died in faith, and ‘lifts’ them and us to be TOGETHER with Him – and LIKE HIM (1 John 3:2) for ever. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

  10. Deanna N Reeve

    I was watching Billy Graham on TV and he said, “One day you will read in the paper or see on TV ‘Billy Graham is dead.’ Don’t you believe it. I will be more alive than I have ever been.”

  11. Clay Bailey

    I am a military man and as the initial phase of the post-9/11 action in Afghanistan was successfully concluding and I was approaching retirement I thought of Gilmore/Bradbury “He Leadeth Me” :

    And when my task on earth is done
    When by Thy grace the victory’s won

  12. Margaret C. Rutherford

    Billy Graham has left a very real, most gracious impression on all
    that has had the wonderful opportunity to hear his word and appreciate his great gift from God.

    My Grandmother would tune in to Billy Graham just to hear her most favorite Gospel Radio Broadcast. This was many years ago and that was of the utmost importance to her which she would not miss for anything.

  13. Lorana Alexander

    When I was 19 I sang What a Friend we have in Jesus all the way up a mt getting off bus to comfort me and not be afraid going home from work in Mass. Staying with Uncle Vilroy and Aunt Mary.
    Listened to Billy Graham on Sunday Hour of Decision radio.

  14. Candice A Grasser

    One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;” has been a life saver more than once. My favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. I came to this website today to honor Billy Graham by reading his favorite Bible verses and stories. Thanks to his family for sharing that about him.

  15. Sue Shaw

    I loved the way Billy Graham preached it always made me feel like
    i needed to change my ways and i did and oh how much better i
    feel. One of my favorite verses is also John 16: 3 i love Amazing Grace, and The Old Rugged Cross, my mother used to walk around
    singing that, my newest song i love is I Can Only Imagine.
    I saw Mr. one time one of his visits, i saw him on tv several times and i never got tired of that beautiful voice, and what a man of Jesus he was, one of a kind.

  16. Michael

    Billy Graham favorite author? It’s been said Rev. Graham loved reading books by author Phillip Yancey.
    Since finding this out I’ve read many books by Yancey. An amazing author and such a blessing to my life ..I highly recommend this Graham favorite.

  17. Joe Loftis

    What a powerful testimony from Billy Graham, one of God’s greatest servants. His recurring theme throughout his ministry has been that God loves us and wants to save us through His love, mercy, and grace made possible through the blood, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is vital to accept Christ in faith as our Lord and Savior. Through Jesus Christ’s death, He paid for our sins so those who believe will NOT have to face sin’s eternal Penalty, hell. Jesus Christ’s Resurrection assures believers of the promise of everlasting life in God’s New Heavens and New Earth. We must live in repentance and do our best to obey God out of Thanksgiving for His wonderful gift of Salvation.