You ask, does prayer help anything? A simple generalized question to be sure; the answer to which may not be as simple as you may think. At least not in my opinion. First we would have to explore and define the word(s) prayer and praying. Secondly, we would have to know what is being prayed for and for what intent. Thirdly, we would have to know who is conducting the prayer and for what purpose.
For example, if by prayer you mean, ritualistic dogmatic prayer, the three hail Mary's and the like, the answer to your question is both a yes and a no. If on the other hand you mean a prayer that comes from the heart, then my answer would be a resonding yes, yes it can and does help but only if our prayers are in line with the will of God.
Prayer is defined as an asking or a petitioning to God or ministering angels, saints, higher self, etc. to act as mediators on our behalf---an intercession if you will. Some may think to stop and prevent a thing from happening and to alter its course. For example, if John Doe is ill, we may ask that he be returned to health and well being. We say, Dear God, please make John Doe well. If John Does is destined to become well and if John Doe is receptive to our prayers, then more than likely a healing can occur. If on the other hand, Joe Doe has a terminal illness like an untreatable Cancer and is destined to leave this world because that is God's will, then our prayers to keep him here will be in vein because our desire is not in line with God's will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. That is to say, sometimes people pray for the wrong things. And in the case of an untreatable illness our prayers may be better served if we pray that they be out of pain or that their transition to the other side be as comfortable as possible might be the better prayer.
In our Christian New Testment there are many examples of what many will term miracles. In one passage Jesus heals a woman with a 12 month issue of blood. It is one of my favorite examples. You will recall that Jesus is walking with his disciples when all of a sudden he says aloud: "Who hath touched me?" A woman comes forth out of the crowd and admits saying: Lord it was I, for I knew that if I could but touch the hem of your garments I would be made whole. And he heals her merely by saying: "Daughter, go thy way, thy faith has made thee well." That particular verse has always interest me because traditionalist will argue that her faith in Jesus made her well. Yet I wonder what Jesus' perspective were at the time. I wonder why he said that to her. Was it because he understood his own abilities or hers? In other words in a crowd of thousands, I wonder if she actually touched the physical hem of his garments or if she touched his auric field. Personally, I think the latter. Her energy field at that time were so strong that he felt that magnetic tug upon his own auric field. Therefore he said to her, go thy way, your faith in yourself has already made you whole.
Verbal prayer magnetizes the air, Jeff. It opens a gateway for the spiritual higher forces (for example, the Holy Spirit). The surrounding ionic field in air become charged by the pranic forces of the ether. So that, if a person is receptive to a healing, they themselves help in that process because they open their own chakric field allowing as it were, our charged prayers access into their physical bodies.