You might think this is obvious but it’s not. I don’t think we pray for people nearly as effectively as we could, and we tend to give up and say, “That’s God’s will” way too soon.

I could write pages and pages about prayer on behalf of others. I keep a prayer journal when I’m praying for mighty intervention for people; it’s humbling and strengthens my testimony. James said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. And he’s right. I often wonder what would happen if we fasted and prayed for people more often.

One example…

Just today, I’m praising God for intervening on behalf of someone who has been a high priority in my prayers for weeks. This young man, Scott, lives in extreme poverty, hasn’t made it through the Social Security Disability system. I met he and his wife four years ago when, as a new Relief Society President, I was asked to do a welfare assessment.

They both have disabilities but didn’t know how to do much more than survive and seek church help, food stamps, and Section 8 housing. They have dismal childhood backgrounds, much abuse, haven’t completed high school or GED work. And yet, they are lovely, sweet, generous souls whom the Lord sent to our ward for help. I’m not just saying that. He sent them where He knew they would be loved and lifted.

I worked many long hours, sitting with them in the hospitals and clinics, helping them navigate charity health care. I used to make them go back to their apartment to put on their Sunday dress so they could be treated better at the hospital. “Pull out those tongue piercings, comb your hair and put it in a ponytail,” I would say. “You don’t want them to treat you like a drug addict”.

We saw many successes and I showed Scott’s wife how to help other people to get what they needed.

The bishop helped Scott overcome smoking and he comes to church every Sunday. His job in the Sunday School is to ring the bell to let people know class is over. He honors that calling no matter what his health is, or the weather. He comes to the organ bench (I’ve been the ward organist for many years) and gives me a bone-shattering hug every time he’s at church.

Several weeks ago, someone shared with me that Scott has such bad infections in his mouth that he was at high risk of a brain infection. He would be dead within months. He was being treated by a dentist in the church , actually, a member of our stake presidency, who had done everything that could be done, but he now needed an oral surgeon who was willing to work with him even though he had a severe seizure disorder. Nobody would touch him. They all cited fear of malpractice lawsuits if anything went wrong, and also said that they couldn’t put him under anesthesia, anyway, just because of his overall poor health. Our dentist-stake presidency member was pulling his hair out trying to get him the right help and was just running into one closed door after another.

So I prayed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, and I’m sure Scott had received blessings, but I prayed MIGHTILY. Every prayer, this was at the top of my prayer list. Father, I said, can’t you please bring something into his life so that some dentist’s eyes will be opened and they will be able to pull this tooth and clear up his infection? How can we give up on someone just over bad dental care? There must be SOMETHING we can do.

The miracle happened this week.

Scott woke up with an abscess, his face puffed out like an orange was in his cheek. It wasn’t even the tooth they were worried about, it was another one.

He had an emergency extraction at 7:30 p.m. several nights ago. The dentist who performed the extraction — I think she was at a hospital — noticed the condition of his other teeth and the severe infection, heard how no one was willing to take care of him, and said, That’s ridiculous. I’ll do it.

So the appointment to take care of the really bad tooth and infection is set for March 25.

Praise God.

As you seek to help people with difficult welfare needs, put prayer at the top of your list.

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