Does supplicatory prayer for healing - that is, prayer as a request for a desired outcome - work?
For most people, it probably doesn't seem to work too well. The list of people who've prayed for the healing of a loved one and seen that person die, for isntance, is probably longer than the list of those who have seen a documentable healing.
When prayer doesn't work, we either blame God for indifference, or blame ourselves for having too little faith. I'm not sure that we're being fair - either to God, or to ourselves.
Let me establish some background. First, I think that God created a world that works according to certain rules, like gravity. Without that level of internal and external consistency, there's be chaos. No gravity, and things go floating off into the distance. No 'every action produces and equal and opposite reaction', and driving a nail becomes impossible.
Next, it would seem that there are spiritual rules as well. We're told that if we have the faith of a grain of mustard seed we can tell a moiuntain to move to the sea, and it will...but we don't see that happening, or anything like it. It must therefore be possible, but something that occurs under very rare conditions. The faith of a mustard seed is great - and we don't come close.
Additoinally, a world in which people could pray away their problems would quickly become chaotic, as well. perhaps the desire to 'pray away trouble' is inconsistent with the ability to do it. I don't know, but not a lot of people are given winning lottery numbers as the result of prayer.
So how does it work? How do healings happen? They do happen. But how?
My theory is that God gave us a mind that's a lot more powerful than we dream it to be. It's old hat that a good mental attitude improves health, but what if a great - prayer supported - mental attitude can make the body heal itself? In other words - we pray for healing, and instead of curing the cancer God gives us the tools to do it ourselves?
I'll continue to pray for healing, for myself and for those I love (and I'm supposed to include those I hate...sigh). For a long time it seemed like a shot in the dark, but if there's a definite link between cause and effect, with the ends of each held by God...that gives a ton of confidence.
I feel better already!