Because religion is so important in the USA, “thoughts and prayers” are often used as an excuse for actually DOING something to effect change. See: Total Inaction by Congress on Gun Control Laws to stop mass shootings among the more obvious examples.
In science and medicine, there’s this thing called “The Scientific Method” to test whether or not things actually work. Many religious believers like to pretend that the effects of prayer can’t be measured, because whether they’re answered or not depends on “God’s plan.” However, if you claim that doing something is superior to doing anything else (or nothing), then by definition, it’s measurable. It’s easier to conduct tests along these lines in some things than others, and medicine is one of those arenas that should be a good test. After all, we can easily track and measure health outcomes on a wide range of metrics. Lo and behold, this has been done!
Prayers = Ineffective, Maybe Even Worse Outcomes
Three double-blind studies in 20 years find little evidence that praying improves outcomes for heart patients. Andrew Masterson reports.
— Read on cosmosmagazine.com/society/do-hopes-and-prayers-work-looks-like-that-s-a-no
In all the studies reviewed, ONE study from 1999 found an 11% positive difference for an outcome among coronary patients, but a later, larger, and better-done study showed worse outcomes by 7-8% for patients who knew that they were receiving prayers.