Not wanting to be incendiary, I maintain that the term "prayer" can mean "higher power" in any translation:
Is there a healing power in prayer? Some people believe very strongly in the power that can be generated by sending prayers, good wishes, positive thoughts or strong loving energy in a concentrated way. My step father does a "dance on the rocks of the river" on his country house property when he wants something to go right for someone he loves. My mother calls it "good vibes." My husband's aunt sends straight-up old school Catholic prayers and my children sprinkle "Fairy dust" on me if they want something to go my way. From what I can tell, thinking and behaving in a positive manner toward yourself or someone else is extremely healing in and of itself. The support and love, the smiles and good feelings you can experience from someone being on your side can make all the difference in the world.
But there have been serious studies on this topic and for more on this, please follow the links below:
and here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/23/AR2006032302177.html
While the debate may continue between science and religion, it does seem to be clear that all religions believe prayer can help, if not cure the sick and that being of pure mind and intention will do more for someone than having ill will or dark intentions. In times of great stress and sorrow, holding on to thoughts of goodness, love and healing can bring your entire system into a more healthy, less stressed-out place. Whether or not to call this "prayer" is up to each individual, but I suspect the label is not going to matter much.
Aimee Boyle lives, works and loves in CT