|Linda, in Cancun|
Do I believe this? Of course. I wouldn't pray if I didn't believe this. I'm not praying for the physical healing of people simply for the sake of them feeling emotionally good because I am thinking of them. If prayer is not causally efficacious then I'm not interested.
The idea that prayer has causal efficacy ("prayer changes things") is well within the biblical Christian theistic noetic framework. For example:
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
How do I know prayer has causal efficacy? I know (inductively) because:
1. I pray.
2. I see results.
3. I have 3500 pages of journal entries over 37 years that contain, among other things, a variety of answers to prayer, to include physical healings.
If #3 were not true I would not waste time praying.
For intellectual support I recommend:
Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts
Candy Gunther Brown, Testing Prayer: Science and Healing