Prayer for One, Prayer for Many
by Mark A. Taylor
Long before our church’s “P.I.E.” emphasis, Betty Quackenbush learned the power of what it means to “pray for one.” Her “One” was her husband, Jack. And her prayers went on for decades before he decided to give his life to Christ.
Betty has been a member of Christ’s Church since the ’70s and has served faithfully here all those years. Today two of her three children (Heidi Mueller and Keri Hoyt) are still actively involved with their families at our congregation, and her son, Eric, is an elder at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Betty and Jack were married in 1963. She knew he believed in God, but he wouldn’t go to church with her. “I work six days a week,” Jack said. “I’m tired on Sunday, and I’m not interested in getting out of bed to go sit in church.”
So Betty prayed. “It was a struggle, his not having the same feeling for God I had,” she said. “Sometimes I did get discouraged. It was especially hard when the kids were teenagers. I didn’t know anything else to do but pray.” She realized it wouldn’t help to pressure her husband. So she just kept praying.
In 1996 Jack retired and the two of them went to Florida for a few months. He agreed to go to church with Betty there. And when they came back, he came to church with her here. But he hadn’t made a commitment to Christ. So Betty kept praying.
The couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2013 with a trip to a Florida beach house big enough for the whole family. Their son Eric officiated over a second marriage ceremony for them on the beach, followed by a party at the house. After the cake was eaten and the refreshments were finished, Jack said, “You know there’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite awhile, and I think it’s time to do something about it. I want to be baptized.” The next day Eric baptized his dad in the Gulf of Mexico. Betty remembers a class taught by Dale Reeves that Jack attended. And she knows the influence of her Christian kids and their spouses all contributed to Jack’s decision. But she also knows God was faithful to her ongoing requests. “Love wins out,” she said. “God answered my prayers.”
Soon Jack became ill with COPD, a heart condition, and a paralyzed diaphragm, a very rare condition. He suffered with his sickness. “I’m so tired of trying to breathe,” he told Betty toward the end. He died in 2016.
“I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of that if it weren’t for prayer,” Betty remembers. “I was praying for peace and comfort,” she said. “He was surrounded by people who loved him.” Jack would ask her to pray in the morning, and he would listen as she went through her prayers with him.
By that time, prayer had become routine for Betty. She started many years ago when her children were small. She remembers when her son Eric was a preschooler and he told someone, “Mom prays every morning! She’s got this big ol’ stack of Bibles!”
Today her prayer habit fills 60 to 90 minutes every morning. She’s up at about 5:00 a.m., and she takes a cup of tea to her “prayer chair.” “That’s my happy place,” she said with a laugh.
She begins her prayer time with praise and thanksgiving. “That takes awhile,” she said. This includes thanking God for the blessing of her children, the church, the nation, her extended family, friends, and neighbors. Then she moves to asking God to help all of these, specifically including our church staff members.
Betty keeps a prayer journal in addition to a stack of prayer cards to guide her in this process. “My memory is so bad, I have to keep things written down,” she explained. “And it isn’t getting any easier. I want to pray efficiently, because it’s so easy for my mind to wander.”
The journal includes page after page of specific requests—from friends and neighbors as well as from members of her small group and Sunday class. The cards list the names of every staff member of our church and their family members as well as each of our elders.
Betty has memorized two favorite verses she prays every morning:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV).
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2, KJV).A friend painted this verse on a wall hanging that is mounted in Betty’s sunroom where she prays every morning.
After her prayer time, Betty studies the Bible. She’s currently reading Core 52 https://core52.org/along with many in our church, and she studies the material for her Sunday class and small group. Additionally, she’s reading three daily devotionals. “I need all the help I can get!” she explained.
Betty is willing to talk about her prayer habit, but she doesn’t see it as something dramatic. “I’m pretty simple,” she said. “You go through difficult times and you don’t know why they’re happening. But we know God is with us, and he loves us so much!”
Betty remembers a friend’s daughter whose husband wasn’t a Christian. “Don’t give up,” she told her and related her own story. It seems certain Betty will continue to follow her own advice with a prayer routine that has become central to her life.
Mark A. Taylor, an author and lecturer who served more than 40 years as an editor and publisher at Standard Publishing, loves to write and travel internationally.