Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)
Okay, so my perspective isn't Christian, but what happens is, when you pray and you're centered about it, you align yourself with the Infinite, the Universe, with whatever you want or don't want to call it.
Funny thing is that nuns have the highest rate of 100 year old in the business...and their job is prayer. Does that mean that pray can extend life indefinitely? NO.
But there is a level of healing that happens. So, I was in the hospital for what may have been food poisoning. (I'd been bleeding out the back end.) My husband notified someone in my sangat (congregation), who in turn, notified everyone else. I could feel myself held in a safety net of prayer. Did that mean I healed instantly, miraculously? NO. Did it mean I had support for martialing my own healing energy? I think so.
Not sure if any of that answers your questions.
There have been a number of articles and studies on the efficacy of prayer. The basic interpretation of most of the studies is that there is no indication of any effect, or at best, only a small positive effect. I thought I remembered one study showing that 3rd party prayers (prayers by someone not associated with the person being prayed for) actually hindered healing in some way. I'm probably not recalling that correctly.
There's also the idea that if your prayers are answered, that that's a sign you're one of the Elect.
Father John sat in the sanctuary, which was empty and quiet. We were sitting on the same row of benches along the wall, sitting next to each other but turned towards each other so he could listen and give advice. His beard was long but square. He wore a black cassock and a gold stole that tied around his neck and went down his middle to the floor.
I was quiet for a long time before I started explaining why I needed his advice. I was glad that Gabriel’s birth and recovery went as well as it did, but I had an awful amount of “what if” thoughts dragging me down. I also was worried I might have gotten Gabriel’s emergency baptism wrong. It was the first and only sacrament I had given to anyone, and the Orthodox take a literal attitude towards the presence of God changing the people involved in a sacrament, so we do not allow much variation how we have the ceremonies.
I gave a long explanation of how upsetting it was to balance all of Gabriel’s competing needs versus the advice of Dr. S and Dr. Grumpypants.
“Miri was not confused, but I was so confused,” I said. “And having come so close to making a mistake, I feel like I can’t make other decisions well.” I was hoping that he could lead me out of the confusion, helping me with the complexity of balancing all the factors here so that I could do better if I ever had to deal with something so overwhelming again.
Father John took a different completely tack than I expected. “In Corinthians, Paul said that a wife’s prayers could save her husband,” he said, referring to First Corinthians 7, in which he says “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife.”
That stopped my train of worry and made me remember that it was all right that I was too weak to come up with the right answer. God does not command us to be successful, but faithful. Sometimes the help necessary to make the right decisions comes from outside us.
Then he said, “And when you have a problem like this that’s making you feel alone, you have to pray for all the other fathers who are having trouble making decisions and leading their families. When all these people pray, a community is formed, and then we all believe together that God can turn evil to good.”
I grew up rather fundamentalist Christian (Church of Christ) and have also studied religion and religious belief at various times throughout my academic career and I can tell you with certainty that...Sure, but what is the idea behind modern Christianity's idea that prayer for healing or protection influences God's intervention?
This reminds me of that story...But, for those who really do believe that prayer leads to healing miracles and they rely on prayer rather than medicine to heal their loved ones (kids), then I have a huge problem with it because that belief leads to injury and death of innocent people.
I heard that one while growing up in church (but I heard a slightly different version. They're all pretty much the same point, though).This reminds me of that story...
There was a flood and a man climbed onto his roof to try to escape it. Someone comes by on a boat to rescue the guy. But he declines it and says, "Don't worry about me. God will save me." The guy in the boat leaves. Another boat comes. "Don't worry, God will save me." That boat leaves too. Then a helicopter comes. "Don't worry, God will save me." The man ends up drowning.
Once he is in heaven, he says, "Lord, I thought if I believed in you, you'd be there for me. Why didn't you save me?"
God says, "Why do you think the helicopter and boats came?"