Since my diagnosis with breast cancer (still very weird to type that), many people have told me that they are "praying for me." I find this a) comforting, and b) disconcerting. Comforting, because it's just nice that people care, and that they want to express their caring by praying to whoever it is they pray to. Disconcerting, because I don't know if I really believe that prayer is really going to help a whit.
I read Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People years ago, and I do find comfort in the thought that while G-d isn't sitting up there controlling day to day life down here, G-d is supporting us through whatever hard times we are having.
On the other hand, I don't know if I really believe in G-d. And even if I do, I doubt G-d had anything to do with this cancer, and whether I will or will not recover from it.
But back to prayer. So in shul, there is a time, during the Torah service, when the rabbi says if anyone knows of someone who is sick, to come up and give him the name of this person, and the rabbi offers a prayer for healing (a mi shebeirach) and recites the names of all the people who are sick. I always feel a bit weird during this part of the service. It isn't really very Jewish to ask G-d for anything; at least, that's how I was brought up. So this whole asking G-d for healing thing seems pretty strange to me.
So now...here I am. I probably could use some healing right now, and even if I don't believe in it, people I know do believe. So there are a bunch of prayers going up to G-d right now with my name in them. Not sure how I feel about that. Yes, I do. Both comforted, and a bit disconcerted.