Years ago I was invited to speak at a youth congress in Essen, Germany. Billy Graham was there, too, and I happened to be visiting with him in his hotel room when a German evangelist called and asked for an interview. Mr. Graham agreed and asked an assistant to bring the man up to the room.
This German was a sharp evangelist with a growing team--much larger than my team of four at the time--but he had one problem, he said to Billy Graham. Nobody invited him to have crusades. He asked for suggestions. Mr. Graham gave him a few ideas, the German asked a few more questions, and the conversation was coming to a close when Billy said, "Well, God bless you. Let's have a prayer together."
Just before bowing to pray, the German, obviously in awe of Billy--in fact he had been converted to Christ through Billy's ministry--said, "Dr. Graham, would you please bless me?" I thought Billy would lay hands on the man as he prayed. Maybe he misunderstood or simply ignored the request, but as he said, "Let's pray," we all got on our knees. He was pouring out his heart for this evangelist, asking God to bless him, when his voice became muffled. I thought, "What's he doing?" I opened my eyes to see Billy flat on his face in front of the German. Not on all fours, but straight-out flat.
The prayer over, a tearful German evangelist got to his feet and awkwardly managed to thank Billy and say goodbye. I was just as shaken and probably made some stupid comment like "What happened? Did you faint?" I had no idea. But Billy said to me, "You know, Luis, the Bible says, 'Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God' (1 Peter 5:6). I believe the best thing for an evangelist is to humble himself every day, even physically. I pray a lot flat on my face."
You want to know the secret of why God has used Billy Graham to preach the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history--more than 210 million people in 185 countries? Because he humbles himself every day in obedience to Scripture. Humility coupled with love has got to be the number one characteristic of a servant leader, I told the 70 evangelists who attended our first Next Generation Alliance(sm) Evangelists Conference earlier this year.
The apostle Paul called himself "the worst of sinners." Was he? That's what he thought--and the Lord changed the world through his ministry. "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life"(1 Timothy 1:16).
"Lord, have mercy...thank You for Your mercy." That prayer every day, perhaps muffled by the rug on the bedroom floor, would better position every Christian to point a lost world to Jesus Christ, His cross and His resurrection.