My father was seriously ill for a decade before he died. He was given six months to live and managed to add 9.5 years to his sentence. My mother, who was raised conservative, but is hardly religious 'read somewhere' that prayer helps. Whenever my father was in a particularly perilous situation (tipple bypass) people would ask her 'what they could do' and she always said 'pray.' It was a brilliant answer. Everyone loved my father. Everyone wanted to 'something' but there was very little that could be done for him (or her), and what could be done was being done by the finest doctors and surgeons. Still people wanted to help and my mother gave them a way to that. No matter what your religion or what you believe in (G-d, karma, free will) anyone and everyone can pray in whatever fashion they do. I truly believe all those prayers gave him more time with us, and us with him.