Does our prayer actually do anything? Can we really change through praying?
To really understand prayer, we need a more sacramental view of reality.
Okay, so: the sacraments. With every sacrament you see something -- you see water poured over a baby, and that's visible -- but there's something invisible that happens, too. That baby's soul is now cleansed of original sin. That baby is now a child of God.
So in reality, there's visible reality, there's invisible reality. For example, what is love? Can you put love in my hand? And in actual fact, the invisible is often more real than the visible. And as a culture, we've lost our sense of the sacramental. We don't seem to acknowledge or even believe in the invisible, so of course we don't understand prayer.
It's interesting, Mother Theresa, one of my heroes -- and she'll go down as one of the greatest saints ever -- she actually founded two different religious orders. Everyone knows the Missionaries of Charity, the MCs, but there's another order who are there just to pray for the MCs. Mother Theresa, of course, knows the invisible, has a sacramental view of reality, believes in the power of prayer.
The patron saints of the missions are St. Francis Xavier, who was a missionary, but the other patron saint of missions is St. Therese of Lisieux, a cloistered nun. So how on earth is she a patron saint of the missions? Because she prayed.