Blog

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?