Praying for Revival, 80 Years Ago

By   •   May 30, 2014

Billy Graham's father, W. Frank Graham (BGEA photo archive)
Billy Graham's father, W. Frank Graham (BGEA photo archive)
In May of 1934 at the dairy farm of Billy Graham's father, W. Frank Graham, a group of businessmen gathered and prayed for God to raise up an evangelist from Charlotte to spread the Gospel.
In May of 1934, Billy Graham was in this barn doing his after-school chores, while on the same property, his father W. Frank Graham and a group of businessmen prayed for God to raise up an evangelist from Charlotte, N.C., to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Eighty years ago this month, a group of businessmen gathered under a grove of shade trees at the edge of a pasture for a prayer meeting. They had met several times before at different locations around their hometown of Charlotte, N.C.—always outdoors—to pray for revival in their city, revival across their state, and revival to the ends of the earth.

My grandfather W. Frank Graham was part of the prayer group, and on this occasion in May 1934, he hosted the gathering on his dairy farm. That day a paper salesman named Vernon Patterson suggested they add a bold new prayer, that God would raise up someone from Charlotte who would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

My father, Billy Graham, who was only 15 years old, was at that moment in the barn (right) doing his after-school chores. The men were gathered at the end of the far pasture on what the family called “the second ridge”— a long, low hill beyond a small stream. None of those who prayed were thinking of young Billy, who had not yet even given his heart to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And my father, pitching hay to the mules, was daydreaming about a career as a professional baseball player. He did not learn of the pasture prayer until years later.

God answered that prayer in ways beyond anything anyone could have imagined, and—with many others joining in the praying and the work through the years—He has continued to answer it to this day.

“A mystery and wonder of prayer,” my father once said, “is that God often waits until someone asks.” Are you praying bold prayers of your own? Which friends or loved ones are you lifting up to God, who desires to rescue the lost? What cities or nations are you praying for? Ask boldly.

Franklin Graham

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112 Comments

  1. John Alan MacArthur says:

    I was saved through the preaching of Billy Graham. On 28 June 1985. On the day that we have had to say goodby to Rev Dr IRK Paisley, my spiritual teacher and leader, I pray that we will all be praying for more evangelists who will unashamedly take the gospel to ‘rescue the perishing’.

  2. Roger Nuttbrock says:

    I attended a meeting Billy Graham presented at the Brainerd National Guard Armory I’m thinking was in 1953. I was eleven years old at the time but I remember going down front and accepting Jesus as my savior. That special day has remained with me all these years and I thank Billy Graham for all that he has done over the years.

  3. Darlene says:

    A testament to the God who answers prayer. Amazing how the seed of prayer and petition for someone from Charlotte to take the gospel around the world was planted on the Graham’s farm and Billy Graham, his sons & daughter, the harvest thereof. To God Be The Glory!

  4. Bruce Linday says:

    Grateful that Bill Graham aired some 40 + years ago and I happened to listen among the noise of my small beautiful children. For that night not sure of how and what to pray, I asked GOD that if he really existed would he show himself to me. And not long afterwards I found myself in a bible study group and accepted him as MY savior and the story goes on. Over the last 40yrs I had walked many paths that a child of GOD should not have been found on. But in 2005 I fully returned to the path he has set before and am currently not only following in his steps but have firmly placed my life/hand in his. I love him as I never have. It took a strange path to realize what the word Grace/Mercy means. He is indeed trustworthy and forgiving, thank you

  5. Beverly Ann Rathbun says:

    I am glad that God brought this Story into my life. Thank you God for being there for me when I need you.

  6. Pamela McBride says:

    It is a very interesting story

  7. Betty Ann Gandy says:

    What a wonderful family story. My granny have some land to a Church where I live & they built a little wooden Church! I love hearing the old stories! :-)

  8. peggy meek says:

    BILLY GRAHAM HAS LIVED A LIFE THAT SHOWS HE HAS FOLLOWED CHRIST. HIS SON FRANKLIN IS DOING THE SAME. GOD BLESS THEM BOTH. TIME IS SURELY RUNNING OUT, BEFORE THE RAPTURE. I AM A SENIOR CITIZEN NOW, RETIRED AND CANNOT BELIEVE THE THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE BY AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT. WE STILL HAVE MANY BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS IN THIS COUNTRY, OR GOD WOULD HAVE LET THINGS GET EVEN WORSE. THERE ARE MANY WHO ATTEND CHURCH AND THINK THEY ARE CHRISTIANS BUT ARE NOT. I WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE FOR YEARS. NARROW IS THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE AND FEW THERE BE THAT ACTUALLY FIND IT.

  9. Alvaro Sanchez says:

    It is truly a unique honor to have chance to get to know Mr. W. Frank Graham, (Thank you for sharing the photo, it touches my heart soooo much!!) the person God used to bring Rev. Billy and through him: SOOOOOOO much BLESSINGS to this beautiful land. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!… and honor and bless those who really deserve it: All the Graham Family!!