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Prayer, simply put, is not fancy, lofty, rehearsed words, tradition, or a religious Olympic exercise or rhetoric, but is merely a simple conversation between children and their Father.  I say simple, in that a child can do, but that does not eliminate the fact that it is powerful. It is powerful because of the One with whom we are conversing and the fact that He is all powerful and able to do whatever He will.  Prayer also often helps align our hearts with God's.  When I say children, I mean those who've placed their faith in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary sacrifice to pay for their sins and thus been adopted into the family of Almighty God--His children--those accredited with righteousness that they could never earn, but that Jesus did earn.
Some 30 years ago or so, I used to stop at a coffee house restaurant after work. I'd have some coffee, read a couple newspapers, have dinner and do the crossword puzzles. One puzzle had a corner mostly of a four-by-four set of words. A couple connections went up and across, but the block of four-letter words was key.

One clue gave me trouble -- "Grant once given to Hollywood". The first word that came to mind was 'deed'. It was almost certainly wrong, but it kept blinding me to alternatives. I couldn't push it out of mind enough to see anything else. I couldn't finish that puzzle, and it was one of the very few I had to leave.

About a week later, I was in again, as usual, working a puzzle from that day. And out of nowhere, the answer to that earlier puzzle clue came up to awareness. 'Cary'! Of course, Cary "Grant". And with it, I could see the rest of the unfinished corner. I had no problem filling it all in mentally even a week later without the printed puzzle.

That event stays in mind. I have imagined it as if some group of cognitive brain cells never stopped working on it. Not enough cells to interfere with normal mental activity, but enough to hold on to the clue and to try to match against whatever else came normally to mind and possibly enough to make subconscious searches into other bits of memory.

Eventually that group of cells hit on the answer and raised an alert to consciousness. There's no doubt that the problem never actually left my mind. It had to stay in order for the answer to raise an alarm.

I got the disturbing feeling that there might be any number of similar little groups of cells busily working on many similar past problems. Maybe there's a time limit; maybe not. Perhaps a significant fraction of subconsciousness is bogged down with meaningless (and sometimes very meaningful) problems.

I tend to think of 'prayer' along those lines.

Prayer doesn't actually have anything to do with a supernatural force. Rather it's one way of engaging parts of our subconsciousness. The meditation and focus cause changes. New synapses get formed; other get bypassed and fade. Sometimes it results in awareness of solutions. Sometimes it affects other elements of 'mind', perhaps by creating motivation or by strengthening will. Sometimes it simply lets us recognize solutions that we run into in the courses of our lives.

When multiple people engage in prayer over the same issue, the chances of uncovering or creating a solution are raised.

It's irrelevant how one views its working reasons. Most likely it's simply important that one believes it works. Having belief ensures that a proper focus exists, and focus is very important in resolving any issue.


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SunBowAuthor Commented:
Summary attempt:                                        [Abandoned (3 Days)]

So, it is not some pious, righteous, stageshow full of scripted magic words, or one to many demonstration, but it could involve a many into one situation.

It can also have a passive or more active focus. That reminds me more of some Naval ships that have a 'run silent' mode of listening, or passive scan, vs more active mode of scan like pinging, having some focus but not without noise.

It can be directional, directed while not directable.

Perhaps distinguishing here from meditation.

Deferring: Superconscious.

Closing up for now and moving on
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My comment was, of course, IMO. The topic just has so many elements that fit with other elements of life and doesn't require anything outside of common human capabilities.

Of course I beg to differ, but it is now closed.  Prayer is the communication of a true adopted child of the Living God and has been know to see people healed, delivered, saved (converted from wretchedness and adopted in Christ).  Is can be a 911 call to Father God to send reinforcements, or just a 1-800 to talk about anything.  Prayer is powerful. Unlike the atheists and humanists I can tell you plainly that if the answers lay within humans we'd have no problems in this world. However the answers lay outside of us. It is that very pride that keeps humans from God.
Since people are healed. etc., in the absence of prayer (though"saved" has no physical meaning, so has no way to know if it happens or not), and possibly more often in the absence of prayer, there seems to be no evidence that prayer has any supernatural connection, nor any reason at all to think of it that way other than personal belief.

No offence intended, but I guess, in all honesty, that is based upon your experience, but if I remember correctly you don't believe in God. In such case if you don't have that family relationship with him through Jesus, then you experience will be that of not having any prayers answered except the on where you ask to be adopted into His family by receiving what Jesus has done and repenting.

That being said, in my experience, I have seen countless prayer answered. Some huge, some in what you'd consider little things, but they weren't little to me.  I have seen people healed. Watched the countenance on the face of someone completely be transformed in seconds by receiving Jesus Christ through a simple, sincere prayer of faith, and much more.  I can understand scepticism with all the nutty false religions and such and those who call themselves Christians but show no difference than the world. I can also understand a person who has no relationship with God, not haven't had these experiences and being doubtful. Until you've experienced Him in this way you don't know, but you can't until you are willing to believe in faith and receive Him. Therein lies the conundrum. Be blessed Tom and have a great night. I do hope that one day God will show you that He's real and that communicating with Him (prayer), when in covenant relationship to Him, has great rewards.
I have seen countless prayer answered.
As have I.

However, the vast majority of answers have been either "No" or "No comment".

Consider the huge increase in prayers made early on Sept 11, 2001, for the safety of all of those close to the tragedies. I can imagine millions of people praying for safety for people they never knew existed, beginning with the early moments of news breaks on TV, radio and even internet sites. Husbands, wives, parents and others were certainly sincere.

I can imagine many on Flight 93 had time to pray as did others not on the flight.

If desired, I could go on forever with a list to be counter to any claims of supernatural prayer workings. The results of prayers are more likely to be simple random results.

But if prayer involves a person's determined attempt to change themselves inside, to make decisions that they hold themselves to in the future, then it seems like a normal part of self-improvement.

For miracle cures, those happen also without prayer. There seems to be no reason to make a connection. Unfortunately, prayers happen around medical cases all the time; so it's easy for some to think there's a causal connection rather than a simple correlation. The vast majority of terminal cases continue right on to death even though prayers have been made. Cures where no prayers happened, no cures even when prayers have been made, those outnumber miracles that are attributed without any evidence to prayer.

There has been some medical evidence that mental activity, either from prayer or other forms of meditation, can lead to release of hormones that stimulate immune system responses. It appears that there may be methods of "thinking" some kinds of cures to happen. None of that has any necessary supernatural connection.

As for my relationship with God, there's no point in discussing it. I can hope for you that someday yours becomes as good as mine, but that's about it. I can pray for you, but I suspect you don't think it'll do any good.

Well, for starters, everyone is going to die. It is a result of the fall and of sin.  Much of America has told God to get lost or that it doesn't believe in Him and yet in the 9/11 crisis immediate aftermath there was a flood of people going to churches and praying. It didn't last. It much of that was probably more of a 9-11 call to the genie-type "god" that many people have a concept of many Americans. Or the spare-tire model of God (there when you need it, but not worth dealing with the rest of the time).  These are false images/concepts of God and many times the result of people who are not in personal relationship with God through salvation in Christ, calling upon Him.  There will generally be no answer for such people as they are not in the family.  As a nation turning away from Him we have seen things like 9-11 as He has lifted His protective hand off of the nation and most likely allowed evil people to be used as an instrument of judgement against us as He did with Israel of old when they became "multi-cultural", polytheistic, idol/demon worshippers, abandoning the only true and Living God. He raised up Babylon, after warning them for many years as people here have been warned for many years.  They conquered them and were cruel and humiliating. This was a judgment and punishment against them.  (Read the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel of the old testament). Then God judged the wicked Babylonians by the hand of Cyrus the Persian for their cruelty and wickedness against Israel.

There is also the element of suffering.  God has chosen suffering to perfect His people. This is one that is hard to understand or accept. None of us want to suffer, but it does bring about purifying in the heart and if one is wise drives him toward God.

The answer is not within. The essence of sin is Self Ish Ness and pride. Both have "I" in the middle of them. Both are focused on the false triune "god" player of "me, myself, and I."  Sin has turned man inward. The answer is with Christ.

You are correct that this conversation could go on indefinitely. I am willing to respond if need be for a while.  The question I have for you is, "if God is real, would you want Him to show you--reveal Himself to you? Are you earnestly seeking Him to reveal Himself?"  If not, you will most likely get what you are seeking--nothing. If you are then I pray that He will reveal Himself to you as the real God who hears and responds and can do what is above nature since He created nature and time.
...and yet in the 9/11 crisis immediate aftermath there was a flood of people going to churches and praying.
My reference wouldn't be about those who only came out for the short term. It would be about sincere, devout individuals who are true believers in the spiritual power of prayer. It would seem that you feel that no such persons uttered prayers during the time we watched the smoke coming from the upper floors after the first impact. Or, you feel that those prayers had no useful effect.

But it's only a single case that I chose because essentially all of us are familiar with it, with the timeline, with the separate events, with how much time passed before the entire tragedy unfolded. There is practically no meaningful limit to how many events could be listed. We can forget and ignore any who only pray in times of dire events. We only need to think about the devout who truly believe and who surely are praying at such times.

And no need to pray for me. My relationship is as good as ever hoped. I just have no illusions about such things as prayers.

Prayer is talking in communion and fellowship with Creator God as one of His adopted children through Jesus Christ. How can you be in good relationship with God if you don't talk to Him? The Bible says:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)  That means He answers prayer.  There are also times when nations, for the evils they have done are given over in judgement and no amount of praying will change that if God has determined to judge that nation. That happened to Israel in the old testament. I think God told Jeremiah or one of the prophets not to even ask Him to relent and that, that prophet would only escape with his life.  There comes a point when wickedness cries out for justice and the King judges. This sometimes happens by allowing wicked people from anywhere to be used as a tool of chastisement to others as I have mentioned.

Well, be blessed and have a great day, Tom.
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