Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, gets a lot of questions about her 98-year-old father, as well as the rest of her well-known family. She answers gracefully, and lately, directs those conversations toward prayer.
Last year, Lotz stepped into a new role as National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force chairman, a position formerly held by Shirley Dobson. Lotz has spent this last year encouraging national leaders to pray and to unite in prayer for the United States.
The 2017 NDP is May 4. This year’s theme – “For Your Great Name’s sake! Hear us … Forgive us … Heal us.” – is based on Daniel 9:19 – “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and Your people are called by Your name.”
It was Billy Graham’s address at the U.S. Capitol in February 1952 that inspired legislation for an annual NDP. That bill was passed unanimously and signed April 17, 1952, by President Harry Truman.
Then, in January 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law designating the first Thursday in May for the annual observance.
Lotz is founder and president of AnGeL Ministries based in Raleigh.
BR photo by Steve Cooke
Anne Graham Lotz emphasizes the need for prayer in every believer’s life during a recent Baptists on Mission meeting in Winston-Salem. As the National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman, she spreads the word about the need for believers in our nation to pray.
She and her late husband, Danny, have three children and three grandchildren. Lotz’s recent book, The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations, also highlights the importance of prayer.
She was one of the speakers during the 2017 Baptists on Missions conference March 17-18 and was part of a story covering the event in the April 8 issue of the Biblical Recorder. She is a member of Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh, a church that her late husband helped start.
The Biblical Recorder interviewed Lotz to find out more about her new position, the upcoming NDP and the importance of prayer. What follows is a lightly edited transcript.
Q: Why is prayer needed for our nation?
A: We need God. Our nation is unraveling … disintegrating into anger, anarchy, division. The polarization seems to be paralyzing our government. There seems to be little civil discourse and lots of chaos and confusion. At the same time, we are being threatened by terrorists who are dedicated to destroying us. God promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
God has promised to hear us, forgive us and heal us on the condition that we pray. Therefore prayer is essential. It is not an option, it is a necessity.
Q: Having recently been put in this position as National Day of Prayer chairman, what are your goals for this annual event?
A: My goal for the NDP this year is to move heaven by leading people in prayer to humble ourselves, seek God’s face and repent of our sin.
Q: Your recent book focuses on Daniel’s prayer, and the theme for this year is out of Daniel 9. Could you please share the importance of praying God’s Word and why this theme was chosen?
A: Daniel 9 is a prayer that worked. God answered it. It moved heaven and changed Daniel’s nation and the one in which he was living at the time, which was Persia. I believe the pattern of this prayer is one worth following if we want to pray effectively for our nation. The theme for this year’s NDP was taken from Daniel 9:19 because it seems to summarize what Daniel was asking of God.
Q: Some might confuse NDP efforts to promote nationalism over Christian ideals. What is your response to that belief?
A: There have been times when the confusion has been understandable. Yet as a nation we seem to have lost our identity. We are one nation, under God. Not just any god. But the living God. The Creator. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Father of Jesus Christ.
Our national motto is “In God We Trust.” But in our rhetoric, our political correctness, our desire to be inclusive and tolerant, and even in some of our legislation, we are rejecting the God of our fathers, abandoning His moral laws, principles, and values. God clearly warns us that if we forsake Him, He will forsake us. I believe God is in the process of removing His hand of blessing from America.
It’s imperative for our own survival as a nation that we return to Him before it’s too late, and plead with Him to return to us.
Q: You recently spoke of your pride for being a North Carolina Baptist. Where are you a member and how are you involved in your local church? Why is that important?
A: I was raised a Presbyterian, but I married the son of a Baptist preacher.
From day one of our life together, he took me to a Baptist church. In the 49 years of our marriage, we were members in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. My husband helped to plant two churches. I currently attend one of those churches. Because of my caregiving and travel schedule, I’ve been unable to be as involved at this season of my life as I would like. But there is no substitute for being a part of a church fellowship. I love the church. And the pride of being a North Carolina Baptist that I recently expressed was prompted by the N.C. Baptist Men’s Missions conference. Led by Richard Brunson, these men love God’s Word, they love God’s gospel, they love God’s Son, they love God’s people and they seem to love me. They are on the front lines of demonstrating God’s love for a broken world through their mission projects.
Q: Would you please update the Biblical Recorder’s readers on the extended Graham family, their health and various ministries?
A: My father is 98. He is confined to his home, but his spirit is strong, and he is well taken care of. My older sister, Gigi, divides her time between Florida and [North Carolina] and is very involved in the lives of her seven children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren. My sister, Ruth, whom we call Bunny, has had an effective ministry with pregnancy life-care centers. My brother, Franklin, is president both of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. My brother, Ned, is president of East Gates International. I believe each of us is doing what we can to further the Kingdom of God.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – There will also be more than 40,000 city-wide and state prayer events in and around May 4. To find one near you, go to nationaldayofprayer.org.)