‘I turned my back on God’: Franklin Graham’s past faith struggles, his ultimate turn toward God

The Rev. Franklin Graham speaks during Franklin Graham's "Decision America" California tour at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on May 29, 2018, in Turlock, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Franklin Graham, son of the late and revered Rev. Billy Graham, regularly makes headlines for his vocal defense of the Christian faith, but some might not know that the evangelist experienced some faith struggles during his early years. 

Despite coming from a famous Christian family, Graham recently told Charlotte Pence Bond, host of Edifi’s “Doubting It” podcast, that he wandered a bit on the faith front during his early years.


“I grew up in a Christian family … my parents lived what they taught, we went to church, went to Sunday school, we had devotions in our home in the morning [and in the evening],” he said. “Just because I grew up in a Christian home, it didn’t make me a Christian.”

Listen to Graham share his powerful spiritual journey on “Doubting It”:

Graham struggled with God’s role in his life. Rather than placing faith at the center, he sought to serve himself.

“I just didn’t want God running my life. I wanted to run my own life. I wanted to have fun. I went to church, because I was expected to,” he said. “As I got older in my teenage years, I was more interested in pleasing myself. I just turned my back on God and tried to serve myself.”

But the more he sought to place himself at the center, the more unhappy he became. Eventually, Graham came around, had a powerful moment of reflection — and was set on course to follow in his father’s incredible footsteps.

“One night, I just got on my knees and I said, ‘God, I’ve sinned against you and I’m sorry,’” he recalled, noting that he asked God to take the pieces of his life and use them. “I still make plenty of mistakes, but when I prayed that prayer it was sincere.”

That moment of authentic faith catapulted Graham to live a life of faith and devotion, with the evangelist noting that he has “never doubted since that God is real” nor has he questioned whether “Jesus Christ is God’s son.”

“There’s power in the Gospel,” he said.

Graham discussed the importance of communicating to young people through powerful stories — an effective vehicle Jesus used in his own ministry.

Through stories, he believes he can make transformational change in hearts and lives.

“I would encourage young people … start every day in the word of God,” he said, going on to herald the necessential nature of prayer. “Prayer allows us to go right into the presence of the king of kings, the Lord of Lords … we can go straight to God.”

We’ll leave you with the full list of “Doubting It” podcast episodes so you can hear more wonderful discussions like this one:

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