Our house is near the end of a cul-de-sac, one house away from suburban fake-lake-front status, the lake being of the small man-made variety that, when a development is planned, must seem like a good idea.
Yesterday a fearsome Nor'easter visited our area. It had a minor perfect-storm nature, with the tidal surge blocking the normal low tide recession, which in turn set us up to be walloped by the next high tide.
So I go home and move everything to high ground—having been forewarned by our neighbors that flooding is possible. (But not by the US Government, which assured me when purchasing this house that it was not in a flood zone.)
The wind, at least its net direction, came across the lake on a beeline to our street, urging the water to come along for the ride. I watched the water rise, getting closer to its port of entry (my garage)—and then it stopped. I may have some in the crawlspace, I haven't checked yet, but nothing got into the house. No damage. The next cul-de-sac, which I can see out of my back windows, looked like the Amazon.
It was truly, truly, a miracle—a testimony to the efficacy of prayer.
Actually it wasn't.
In fact, I never once prayed: Lord, please keep the water out of our house.
I don't have a good grasp on the theology of prayer—to me the bible sends mixed signals. But I believe that prayer never results in God changing his mind, nor causes God to intervene where he wasn't going to intervene in the first place. In that sense, I am not surprised with those studies that show no effect of prayer on outcomes—even if they are, I suspect, highly flawed.
When I pray regarding disasters or catastrophic illness or the like, it is always some variant of: Lord may the Christians involved, either those being afflicted or those providing mercy, bring glory to your name. It may be longer than that—although I am notoriously terse in my prayers, and it will certainly be customized and personalized to the situation—but it will inevitably boil down to may the Christians in this situation bring you glory.
That is not to say that I think it is wrong to pray for something. But I think it should be done in the sense that we have been granted the privilege to tell the creator of the universe what we want. He has not, however, granted us the power to change his mind.
That's how I see it. But again, I think a comprehensive theology on prayer based on the bible is beyond my abilities.