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How Graham preached was just as important as what he preached. His authority lay in his words, but his words were inseparable from how he presented them.
The how started with his own preparation. We have seen that sustained Bible study and prayer were woven into his daily life routine. Those habits intensified as he geared up for crusades and during the meetings themselves. In the hours before he preached, he ran over his notes, which his secretary had typed up in sketchy outline form. Here and there he inserted cryptic handwritten comments about current events or illustrative stories or scriptural passages to weave in.
Hotel - Room - Graham - Door - Shades
In the hotel room, Graham locked the door, pulled the shades, took a nap (with a baseball cap on to keep his long, wavy hair from crinkling up). He ate lightly if at all, reserving dinner for after the meeting. And fretted.
Though Graham spoke in public thousands of times, he never took his performance for granted. Before the opening night at Harringay, he remembered, he was so frightened of failure he almost turned back. At the end of a sermon, sometimes he was so exhausted associates had to help him, soaked with sweat, off the platform and directly into a waiting car.
Wonder - Tom - Allen - Organizer - Graham
No wonder. Tom Allen, an organizer of Graham’s 1955 Scotland crusade, said that before Graham preached he saw in him “an inner and very finely controlled tension.” But once the meeting started, “All the strain is gone, and from then on the man has forgotten himself.”
If in Los Angeles in 1949 he had preached “fast and loud,” by the time he got to New York in 1957 he had learned to dial down the speed and let the microphone do the heavy lifting. Yet his ability to hold listeners’ attention remained, or even grew. Whatever he...
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