In late December of 1972, President Richard Nixon gave the green light for Operation Linebacker II, which became known as the Christmas Bombings in Vietnam. Over the course of nearly two weeks the United States pulverized Hanoi with an aerial assault at a time when most people were expecting the North was ready to surrender anyway.
War-weary Americans were horrified by the images from Linebacker, especially with the carnage coming over Christmas, a Christian holiday associated with peace on earth and goodwill toward man.
It was no secret in those days that Billy Graham was a close friend of the President (even if, as it turned out, Graham was completely fooled by Nixon). The evangelist was often a mouthpiece for the White House, helping to sell the Nixon agenda to his massive Christian following. So when news of the bombing broke out, people called on Graham to intervene and convince Nixon to call off the offensive.
One pastor in particular, Ernest Campbell of New York, preached a sermon titled “An Open Letter to Billy Graham.” He said in part: “As one of the ‘near voices’ within hearing distance of the throne, you surely bear a responsibility to critique government policy as well as bless it.”
It was an interesting debate, and one I do not intend to weigh in on here. People wanted Graham to speak up because he was “within hearing distance of the throne,” referring to the Oval Office. It was a special responsibility for the farmer-turned-preacher, and he was expected to use it.
But I’m sure a lot of people considered Graham to have been within hearing distance of the throne. People often treat pastors as if their prayers make it to heaven faster than the prayers of others; they act as if God gives extra consideration to a preacher’s prayers before any non-preacher. And that is simply not true.
Every Christian is within hearing distance of the throne. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (4:16).” That is why Peter would write that we can cast our cares upon the Lord—because He cares for us!
We are all within hearing distance of the throne, so let’s take advantage of it. We can ask others to pray on our behalf, but their prayers get to heaven just as quickly as ours. Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, you can call out to God today, and He will hear you.