Evangelist Franklin Graham offers prayer for America ahead of 50-state tour

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Even in the most liberal cities in America, people of faith are eager to stand up and pray for this nation and its leaders.

They did just that in Boston Tuesday, gathering for the Franklin Graham and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s “Decision America Tour” stop at Boston Common. They were within view of the Massachusetts State House, too — where some of the most liberal state laws in the nation have been passed.

The Boston event marked the 39th prayer rally of the Decision America Tour. Graham is bringing his message to all 50 states and to anyone who will listen — conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. The message is simple and persuasive: America is in dire circumstances and turning to God is our only hope.

The tour specifically challenges Christians to pray for America and its leaders, and to live out biblical principles at home, in public, and at the ballot box.

Jim and Nancy Lake and their friend Carol Raymond came to Boston from their homes in Athol, Massachusetts, on a chartered bus with 51 other rally attendees. Jim Lake had a message for those on the bus, he said, as they traveled down the freeway.

“I said, ‘Before we come into this place, we need to purify our hearts and get rid of the stuff’ — be as pure as you can when you come into this place, with God’s people,’” he told LifeZette, minutes before the rally began. “We’re going to talk with the Lord today. It’s not about Franklin Graham or Billy Graham. It’s about God Almighty — and what he’s going to do with all of us today.”

His wife, Nancy, had a focus to her prayers as well. “We need to come together to pray for our nations and our churches, and to gather together and ask God to raise up godly leaders. The work ahead must start with the believers.”

She continued, “We as believers need to unify, putting aside denominations and instead be in harmony as Christians. We need to ask God to change hearts, and ask him to draw people back to Him.”

Their friend Carol Raymond also stressed the unity of the faithful. “It’s very important that we’re all out here together, agreeing on different issues as Christians,” she said.

Jim Lake said America needs to go back to its first love — God.

“In Athol and in the surrounding communities, there is a movement — people are returning to prayer meetings,” he said. “There’s also an emphasis in our church for people to go out and vote. It’s our responsibility.”

When asked if they’ve been longtime supporters of Franklin Graham, Jim Lake said, “We know his dad better than we know him, but Franklin is just the man we need for times such as these.”

Franklin Graham took to the podium set up on the Common around noon, as the temperature rose and clouds floated through a bright blue sky over the lawn and the duck pond, where children floated toy boats. Business people on their lunch hour, mothers with small children in strollers, and teenagers with different Christian-themed T-shirts cheered heartily as Graham took the stage. Many stood on tip-toe to catch a glimpse of him as they tried to snag patches of shade in the noontime heat.

Reading from the Book of Nehemiah and reiterating its theme of rebuilding walls for security and strength, Graham emphasized to the almost 3,500 attendees the state of spiritual and moral emergency the nation is in.

“It’s not too late, but if we turn our back on God it’s too late, I’ll tell you that now,” Franklin said. “The moral and political walls of our nation are crumbling. Politicians — and sad to say, some churches — are more concerned about political correctness than they are about God’s truth and His righteousness. Just look what Nehemiah did. He fasted and he prayed and he rebuilt his walls.”

Graham twice mentioned appreciation for law enforcement and the nation’s veterans. He also asked the crowd to ask for forgiveness for the nation’s sins.

“I’d like you to grab the hand of the person next to you — it may be a total stranger, and I want us to pray. But first, let’s confess the sins of this nation.” Graham then listed abortion, same-sex marriage, an entertainment industry that peddles sex, and the neglect of our nation’s poor as prime examples.

Heads bowed on the Common and hands clasped, making long human chains as prayers rose into the air. Some were just whispers; some were tearful and personal pleas for God’s grace. Some people prayed in unison.

Graham asked for prayers for Massachusetts’ state government, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karen Polito.

“Let’s pray for law enforcement across this nation, that puts their lives on the line every day,” he said to cheers. Small American flags were in the hands of many attendees, and they waved them proudly. “Let’s pray these prayers so that your whole state can hear us,” Graham said, his voice booming.

LifeZette spoke to 53-year-old Charlotte Tyler (not her real name) of Holbrook, Massachusetts. She had brought her 15-year-old son along, and both held flags and listened intently.

“I am here because it’s important to attend as a Christian,” she said. “We’re going in the wrong direction in America, and it’s hurting us all. It’s affecting our children as this stuff [the progressive agenda] is coming into the public schools. It’s awful. A wrong will always be a wrong, and a right will always be a right. People are beautiful when they shine with faith,” she added, smiling at the crowd around her.

A central focus of the Decision America Tour is Christians and politics — and how to get the former involved with the latter. Graham does not officially endorse a candidate, but he did meet recently with Donald Trump in storm-devastated Louisiana.

“‘We are going to have to meet our political responsibilities as Christians,’ my father once said,” Graham intoned. “Today, we need men and women of God at all levels of government. We are being stripped right now of our biblical heritage.”

Graham said Christians can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines. “It’s the duty of Christian men and women to offer themselves for public office,” he exhorted the crowd. “There are many places where Christians could get the vote and win — if only they offered themselves up [as candidates].”

Graham also said that a stunning 20-30 million evangelical Christians sat out the last national election.

He spoke about the youth of today and the moral and spiritual perils they routinely face. “Sexually graphic reading material is now in schools and they say, ‘Well, this will expand the minds of the children.’ Well, no, it won’t,” asserted Graham. “We need Christians on school boards to say, ‘We’re not going to let that garbage in here anymore.’”

After the rally, Graham reiterated to LifeZette his concerns for America’s kids. “Millennials have a whole different view of the United States. They’ve taken God out of our schools, our history, our textbooks — and it scares me.”

Toward the end of the rally, Graham told the crowd, “I’ve got a question. Do you know Jesus Christ as your savior?”

One elderly woman attending the rally leaned toward her female friend. “That’s where I see his father in him,” she said, smiling.

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