We all know that prayer is good. We all know that intercessory prayer is good. It's good for us to pray for others and for them to pray for us. Have you ever stopped and wondered, "Why?" I know, I know---we aren't supposed to question things and I'm not saying it's not good and I'm not saying I am going to stop. I'm just asking "why?" Maybe it comes from so many years of teaching teen agers in confirmation. And the question had been troubling me so much that I took it to my spiritual director last week.
Seriously though, why is intercessory prayer good? God is all knowing. It's not like He is sitting there and hears our prayer and goes, "WHAT? Bill is sick?!?! Well, I had no idea! Of course I'll heal him!" God's will will be done. I don't think we are going to change his mind. He's not sitting there will a tally board and once he gets so many prayers do what is asked. ("Well, I've gotten more requests for the New Orleans Saints to win so they will be San Diego this weekend)
Yet, prayer seems to work. I've heard of studies where they take two patients in equitable physical condition and one receives prayers (unknown to him) and the other does not. The one who receives the prayers does better than the other. The desired response may not come quickly--St. Monica praying for the conversion of her son-St. Augustine-comes to mind. And the response may not be what you wanted. But prayer does work.
I think our problem comes because we try to see God through our own eyes. We have to remember that God's ways are beyond our knowledge and understanding. We have to remember that God doesn't need us. He loves us. He desires to draw us to Him. But he doesn't need us. So, if it's true that prayer is good and it's true that God loves us and it's true that he desires us to be closer to him then I think it's a safe assumption that prayer is for us and not for God.
We may not be telling God anything new when we pray. We may not be convincing God of anything or changing His mind. But, when we pray we get closer to God. It is through prayer that we are drawn to Him. It is through prayer that we come together as pieces of the Body of Christ. It is through prayer that we are healed--even if we do not now how or why.