Leading evangelist Franklin Graham has responded to critics of his “special day of prayer” on Sunday, a time when he's urged Christians worldwide to ask God to protect President Trump as his political “enemies” seek impeachment.
Graham, the 66-year-old son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and the influential conservative Christian leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, spoke with The Christian Post on Thursday to further detail what inspired him to announce this Sunday’s special day of prayer.
Since making the announcement last Sunday, Graham has faced backlash from fellow Christian leaders who argue that Graham’s call to prayer for the president is nothing more than an attempt to politicize prayer and “engender support for Trump by whipping up prayer.”
“I am not asking people to endorse him. That is not that point of this prayer,” Graham told The Christian Post in a phone interview. “This is not an election year. So I don’t see how it could be political. He is the president. People have voted for him. He is in office and he is carrying out the duties of the presidency. He needs our prayers.”
The special day of prayer statement has been supported by over 300 Christian leaders. Graham is calling on pastors and laypersons across the nation to lead their congregations in prayer for the president during Sunday services, Sunday school, and other gatherings.
Graham told The Christian Post that he was inspired by a feeling in his heart to announce the day of prayer. He said that feeling grew into action after he spoke about it with another pastor who thought it was a great idea.
Considering that the call to prayer came on the same week in which Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly about the investigation into Russian collusion during the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by the president, Graham admits that the events in Washington played a role.
Mueller said this week that his investigation did not rule out the possibility that Trump broke the law and seemed to shift the responsibility of accusing the president of a crime to lawmakers in Congress. In turn, more Democrats in the House of Representatives have called for impeachment.
“I think what is going on in Washington has something to do with [my call to prayer]. It has bothered me and it has been a burden on my heart because this president is being attacked more than any president in modern history; attacked by the press more than Abraham Lincoln,” Graham said.
“So he is the president of the United States. You had two years of investigation that came up with nothing. Now the media and his opponents in Washington are doing everything they can to destroy him. What we need to remember is that he is the president. That doesn’t mean that he is a perfect person. He is flawed like all of us. He has made plenty of mistakes but he is the leader of this nation. We have got huge problems in front of us.”
Some of those issues facing the U.S., according to Graham, include trade problems with Canada, Mexico and China, the situation with Iran, the strife in Venezuela and talks with North Korea.
“There is so much that needs to be done,” he said. “The president, for him to be distracted with false accusations, with people doing all they can to destroy him, it hurts this country. It hurts all of us.”
Although Graham is regularly described in the mainstream media as a supporter or even an “apologist” for Trump, he clarified that he has never endorsed Trump. Graham admits that he does agree with many, but not all, of the policies Trump and his administration, have advanced.
As the Trump administration has advanced more pro-life policies than any other president and done much to advance religious freedom domestically and across the globe, Graham also cheered the fact that Trump “got more people working than we have had in modern history.”
“My prayer is not an endorsement of the president,” Graham assured. “It's to just call on God to give him wisdom because if he makes a good decision, it is good for all of us. If he makes a bad decision, it is bad for all of us. Whether we are Republican or Democrats or independents, this is just asking God to guide him and direct him as he makes decisions every day that impact our lives.”
Although he does not endorse Trump, Graham proclaimed that Trump “probably will go down as one of the great presidents of our country.”
“When I say protect him, protect him from his enemies. Because these enemies — it is not just the president, but it is tearing down the office of the presidency,” Graham stressed. “This will hurt our country for many, many years if this allowed to happen.”
In an earlier interview, Graham declared that the attacks that Trump’s enemies are launching against the president are “demonic.” His statement announcing the call to prayer stated that “our nation is at a crossroads, at a dangerous precipice.”
“This precipice is the failure of our democratic system. It is just a handful of people that are able to control the media and are able to dictate what comes across the media into a person’s home night after night, day after day,” Graham said, referring to the impact that the left-leaning mainstream media is having on today’s political climate.
“If the president was brought down for whatever reason, it could lead to a civil war. There are millions of people out there that voted for President Trump that are behind him that are angry and they are mad. We are just living in a very dangerous territory and we need God’s help.”
Graham praised Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 presidential hopeful, who has said that Democrats shouldn’t be looking to impeach Trump because the Mueller report found that no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia took place during the 2016 election.
“So since the Mueller report has come out, they are talking about impeachment. It is just crazy. It is destroying our country. Enough is enough,” Graham said. “Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii, she made a great statement. She said, ‘It is time to move on.’”
Graham stressed that the country is in turmoil and has become a “mess” that only God can fix.
“Every time a person yields their life to Christ, that heart is changed. America needs a heart transplant. America needs a new heart,” he contended. “We have become vicious. We have become angry. We have become bitter. It is just wrong. The only hope this country has got, we need to pray. We need to pray for our president.”
Graham explained that although he will be praying for the protection of the president, he is in no way instructing other Christians on how they should be praying this Sunday.
Some critics think the call to prayer should focus on Trump’s need for repentance from his immoral behaviors. Others have noted that the Bible commands Christians to pray for all government leaders in positions of power.
“I have called this to be a focus of prayer on the president. Of course, the Bible commands that we pray for all those that are in authority. If a person feels led to pray for those that are in Washington and represent their state or their district, then absolutely pray,” Graham said. “But the focus of my call was to be a focus on prayer for the president.”
“First of all, he needs to be encouraged,” Graham continued. “It is discouraging when you wake up every day and it doesn’t matter if you do something good or not. They only report the bad. That gets discouraging. I pray that the president will be encouraged knowing that there are millions of people praying for him.”
An edited transcript of Graham’s interview with CP can be found on the next page.