Faith: the complete trust or confidence in something. This is how the dictionary defines the thing that makes the world go round. Everything not directly experienced but that is accepted as true is based on faith. Even the act of doing something repetitively such as sitting down in a chair requires faith. Unless it's a really shabby chair, you will not inspect it for structural integrity. All your past experiences with chairs conglomerate and save you the trouble of checking everything all the time. Imagine how taxing life would be without faith?
Religion (and spirituality in general) recognize the unknowableness of the universe but still try to box it up into a structure of some abstruse god(s). A lot of religion embittered people will vehemently state that religion is just a means of controlling people and making money but it's giving something to the parishioners just like drugs do to an addict. Any attempt to control your senses, environment, inner state etc is just that - control. I think that's possibly what leaves that anger towards religion in people who walk away. The drug quit working for them and they are left with a bleak view of life unless they begin to look inside.
I've never understood the concept of prayer. If god is all knowing then what is the point of verbalizing your thoughts. In my young mind it seemed akin to pestering an adult about something you had already discussed. Generally consensus, or what was established in my "faith", was that once something was addressed, you left it alone, or didn't bring it up again unless you thought for certain they must have forgotten. God wasn't supposed to have that problem though, forgetfulness, or many other inhibitions that seemed to get in the way of people understanding me so what was the point?
Faith implies implicit trust, trust requires surrender - it's like a handshake of letting go. People are so stressed out because there's a lot of Mr. Jones' friends out there just looking for something to believe in. Prayer seems like it gives them that but perhaps prayer is the antithesis of faith. It's verbal regurgitation of a codified expression of their faith which is saying - "I believe I know what's best for myself or someone else but lack the power to make it happen. You (insert diety, power, etc) see my heart and if you will for xyz also, please let it be so". That's the gist of it, what I hear anyway.
I've heard for prayer request around disease particularly cancer as long as I can remember but it seems to me that prayer is like a manifestation of mental cancer. Cancerous cells don't want to die and continue to grow when they shouldn't (among other things), but death is a part of life as much as light is meaningless without the dark. Everything has cycles which isn't to say that you give in to cancer or any form of disease, but we all must grow and leave things behind like a tree sprouting from the earth. If prayer isn't an attempt to control then what is it? The only real control you can have is to be as present in this moment as possible. If you really trust in a god that has your best interest at heart, then all you should have to do is live as you and accept what comes. We, in our own minds, select whether something is good or bad. Sure it's based on a list of reasoning so long and probably convoluted to ensure our own self righteous position, but the fact still remains, whether through prayer or in our thoughts, we are in the drivers seat making the judgements - being our own gods.
I quit praying a long time ago and have come to enjoy listening. Even in the biggest racket a quiet can be found while conversely, immense silence can let you hear subtleties like your own heart beat. We are so full of contradictions in our culture and too proud or afraid to admit it because then what are you left with? Where does the power to make change come from without some supernatural god? There's no such thing as supernatural, only what you believe to be and what you may experience that contradicts your previous beliefs. What is, is what is - meaning if it exists then it is just part of nature we do not understand. One man's science is to another man magic. The only thing separating the illusionist from the audience member is knowledge and position relative to each other.
If you feel the need to pray - I highly recommend trying this out instead Vice - Wim Hof, the Ice Man. The moment to take control is now and that requires letting go. You can't take more air in if you try to hold on to what you have but it's always going to dissipate so why try to hold on? You don't need to smoke something to give yourself a reason to consciously control resperation for your well being. Happy breathing.