A Legacy of Revival in the Nation’s Capital
Looking Back at Billy Graham’s 1952 Washington, D.C. Crusade
May 3, 2010 - This week as Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer, Franklin Graham could be a part of a legacy of revival in our nation’s capital nearly half a century after his father conducted a revival that gave birth to the idea of the National Day of Prayer.
If Washington had a spiritual awakening, it would touch the nation. —Billy Graham
*Photo, right: Billy Graham chats with House Speaker Sam Rayburn.
Billy Graham was invited to hold a revival in Washington, D.C. in early 1952. The crusades lasted from January 13 to February 7.
House Speaker Sam Rayburn invited Reverend Graham to conclude his series of messages by leading a worship service on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Rayburn said, “This country needs a revival, and I believe Billy Graham is bringing it to us.”
Speaking to a large crowd, Billy Graham said, "What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country today kneeling before Almighty God in prayer. What a thrill would sweep this country. What renewed hope and courage would grip the Americans at this hour of peril."
Representative Percy Priest noted that the country had been "challenged by the suggestion made on the east steps of the Capitol by Billy Graham.” The idea was then born for the law that established National Day of Prayer. The very next day, Priest introduced the bill, which established this special observance.
In an act of Congress, Billy Graham was allowed to conduct a worship service on the Capitol steps on Sunday, February 3. Despite the cold and rainy weather that day, thousands stood in the rain to hear the young evangelist.
Billy Graham would later return to the nation’s capital in 1960 and 1986 to conduct crusades.
Now, as Franklin Graham is set to lead our country in intercession, please pray that yet another Graham will spark revival in our country from the grounds of her capitol.
*The National Day of Prayer was signed into law as a national observance in 1952 by President Harry Truman. Since then, Americans from multiple backgrounds have been overcoming differences to join together and pray for our nation.