Does prayer work? It is impossible to know – there is no verifiable evidence to suggest that it does work (only anecdotes based on confirmation bias) and there is no way to convince a believer that it doesn’t work as there is always a loophole, since the most common Christian belief regarding prayer is that there are three possible answers to a prayer request: yes, no, and wait.
With these answers, you could pray to anything and get the same feedback as praying to God. For instance, let’s say that I pray to my toothbrush. If I asked my toothbrush for a job and I got one within a week, I could claim that the toothbrush helped me get the job. Sure, it is more likely that I was going to get the job regardless of whether I prayed to my toothbrush or not, but if I believe my toothbrush has supernatural powers then it would seem reasonable for me to assume that it helped me. Likewise, if I didn’t get a job within a week, I could assume that the toothbrush didn’t want me to get a job right away and that it wanted me to wait longer. If I eventually got a job, I could say that the toothbrush was testing my faith or that it had a better plan in store for me as long as I was willing to wait. And if I never got a job, I could say that it was because the toothbrush never wanted me to get a job. As long as I trust in the toothbrush, I shouldn’t question its plan. Perhaps I was praying for the wrong thing; perhaps I am simply not meant to have a job!
Now replace the toothbrush with God.
Thus, it is impossible to tell if God has ever answered a prayer, especially since God seems unwilling to break the laws of nature or demonstrate any consistent, significant positive difference between the outcome of an event when people pray compared to when people don’t pray.
P.S. I prayed to my toothbrush that people would find this article and read it… and HERE YOU ARE! Isn’t my toothbrush amazing!?