“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Will Graham’s new book Redeemed: Devotions for the Longing Soul was birthed from his desire for others to know the love and redemption of Christ. In the book’s 50 devotions, Will shares experiences from his life, including lessons from Billy Graham. Be encouraged by this exclusive excerpt, as well as Communion: Will Graham Shares How He Surrendered His Life to Christ and Embracing God’s Love Through ‘Daddy Bill.’ Read and share these excerpts from Redeemed, then order your copy.
“Pray. Pray. Pray,” my grandfather said to me, sitting in front of the fireplace in the log home that he and my grandmother built from the ground up in the 1950s. He added, “Study. Study. Study.” He whispered, “Looking back, I wish I had done so much more of both.”
I had come to visit him for advice and guidance. I had just been called away from my church to serve with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I knew this wouldn’t be an easy task. I’d be gone from home—from my wife and children—for weeks at a time. I’d be traveling to difficult and spiritually dark places around the world.
After first seeking my heavenly Father through prayer, it made sense to next consult the man who had drawn the blueprint—who had traveled farther and spoken to more people than any other evangelist in human history—my grandfather.
I’ll admit that I was expecting a different kind of advice: key verses to use in sermons, hand gestures to drive home a point, or tips on how to invite people to come forward to make a decision for Christ.
Instead, my grandfather’s response left me pondering.
After all, nearly every time I visited him he was doing one of two things—praying or reading God’s Word. He constantly devoted his time to prayer and study. How could it be that he felt inadequate in these areas?
Perhaps sensing my question, my grandfather explained.
“I wish I knew the Bible as well as your grandmother. She knows it better than anyone I have ever met,” he quietly continued. “And we could have done so much more if we had taken fewer speaking engagements and spent more time on our knees in earnest prayer.”
And that was it. That was the advice I had sought, and it is guidance that I have carried with me ever since as I’ve traveled the globe and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear my grandfather whisper those words.
Whatever walk of life you are in, I hope that you can hear my grandfather’s instruction and take it to heart as well.
You see, you don’t have to be an evangelist or a minister to gain incredible, eternal value from time spent in prayer and study. You will be blessed beyond measure as you develop your relationship with God in this way.
Further, it is wise to be careful about doing “too much.” We can get so busy that our efforts begin to crowd out our relationship with God. Even if what we are doing is noble and productive, we can’t let it get in the way of what is most important in the scope of eternity.
My friends, take heed of the lesson my grandfather learned in his life and ministry and passed along to me. Make prayer and studying the Bible a priority in your life today.
What practical steps could you take to prioritize your time with Jesus?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, life throws so much at me. Help me to develop my relationship with You through prayer and study. I pray for Your blessing as I make my time with You a priority. In Jesus’ name. Amen.