"Resistance does not mean walls and fences, nonresistance does not mean open space. If you can understand in this way, mind and matter are fundamentally the same." -Tsu-hsin
Isn't it amazing that an 11th century Zen master knew what we in the West are finally discoverng a thousand years later? Mind and matter are part of the same process. They aren't dualistic opposites, they are part of the same Reality.
How can prayer change things? Well, first, prayer changes the one praying because prayer takes place in Mind, so the mind of the one praying is expanded or relieved by the very act of prayer. But then, once one's mind has been changed, then that person's experience can change.
Even when we pray for others, it still works. We know now that consciousness is non-local and that form and experience are the manifestations of energy and information (sounds a lot like thoughts and ideas, huh?). Prayer is the process of changing one's mind, and a change of mind changes experience. Matter is the individuation and crystalization of the activity of Mind. The mystics have always known this. The "hard" scientists are catching up. So, with renewed enthusiasm and confidence, let us pray for whatever we need or desire, and let's pray for others, too. Our prayers will work, because mind and matter are fundamentally the same.