Why should we pray when it doesn't do any good?

I’ve studies apologetics on my own for a few years now. I’m no expert, but I’ve listened, read books, been to siminars of Scott Hahn, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Tim Staples, Steve Ray, and more. However, I’ve come across one issue that I can’t seem to get over. I’ve emailed a local priest and his answers were not nearly adequate. So, here it is.

The Bible and the Church ask us to pray for people to be healed, for safety, for strength, etc. However, I don’t see a bit of evidence scientifically that it has any effect on anyone. I could perhaps see that if you pray for God to strengthen yourself or change your heart, then there could be a positive outcome. However, I have not personally seen it. Regardless, that personal change could also be derived by meditating about change and not praying. Every Sunday at Mass we pray for sick and they still die; we pray for safety of soldiers and they still die; we pray for the hungry and they are still hungry. I was told by a priest that we pray because God wants us to pray. That to me seems to be circular logic that doesn’t hold water. Why would God ask us to pray when he knows it will not do anything?

We don’t pray to God primarily to “get stuff” from him. We pray to him to be in relationship with him. We pray to him to acknowledge our dependence upon him, creature to Creator. Petition is only one small part of prayer. In addition to intercession (i.e., petition) there is also adoration, confession, lament, praise, and thanksgiving. Prayer is ultimately an act of faith and its benefits cannot be measured scientifically but only by faith.

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