Speaking of failed prayers, a toddler died because her Medieval parents' prayers didn't work either. Want to know what would have worked? Antibiotics. No omnipotent imaginary beings required - just simple antibiodics. (Read about it here.) As a result of their negligence, they're being charged with second-degree manslaughter. Of course, they're trying to get the charges dismissed on account of a violation of religious freedom.
I've written about this before. While I certainly don't trust the government to intervene and remove all children from parents who believe in faith-healing (or to be more fair, faith healing in place of any sort of medicine), I do think that the government is doing the right thing in this instance. After all, in a free society, you should have the right to believe whatever you want and do whatever you want so long as it doesn't hurt others.
This, of course, is a case where the line has been drawn. After all, we have laws that prevent parents from abusing their children. What is this but a form of abuse? What would you say if they sat back and watched as their toddler played in the street while they prayed that the oncoming traffic wouldn't hit her? How is this any different? We're talking about something that could be solved with simple antibiotics here. It's not like they refused to have her undergo some potentially complex, expensive, and painful process.
In a way, I feel sorry for these parents. After all, it must be horrible that they lost their child. Still, my feelings only go so far because it was their fault. Sure, they probably had parents who raised them with this kind of bullshit, but ultimately adults need to start taking responsibility for their own lives.
Is prayer totally useless? Honestly, I don't think so. After all, I believe that it's good for providing people with comfort, and after reading The Year of Living Biblically, I think that it's probably good for your mental health if it's a ritual type of a thing. However, when it comes to prayer having any kind of practical effect on the world? It's useless for that. So, if you're going to pray, pray for yourself. Don't pray for me, and for Odin's sake, don't pray for your sick children - take them to a doctor.