Prayer Thoughts

Why does God command us to pray for the well-being of others? If he has already purposed to heal them (or not to) our prayers make no difference. Or do they? Does my prayer (or lack thereof) somehow force God's hand? Like...God wanted to heal "Jim" from his cancer, but since I didn't pray everyday for a month, God was forced to alter his plan and let Jim die. Or, does prayer somehow put up resistance to the work of evil so that God has more freedom to do what he wants?

Prayer is a mysterious thing when we use it to try and manipulate or force God to act. The Bible seems to teach that a) Prayer influences God to act; b) God does what he wants in all circumstances. Maybe, then, prayer, in regards to prayers for others, is more about us feeling empathy and compassion for people, and it is an act of slowing down and putting someone else in the center of the universe for a change.