Hello Richardb, there are many people who believe in prayer, I can't and won't take this away from them, however, you say ' God helps people in times of need', I'm sorry but I doubt this, it's up to us with the help of a therapist that can teach us to overcome these feelings.
I don't want to stop you from praying if that's what you want to do.
There have been several times where I felt my problems were impossible to solve. That my life was over. I was wrong every time. I kept searching for an answer and kept reaching out for help.
Sometimes I solved it myself, other times it was the intervention of others (usually doctors and specialists or family). My point is, there is always hope, until we are on our death bed. Don't put yourself in a position of being closer to that bed.
In regards to prayer, I was raised in a very religious house. I rejected it. I never felt it helped me. I lost my faith for many reasons. I only had myself to solve my problems. However, I was very desperate to get pregnant and I tried praying 4 years ago. Somehow, after 7 years of infertility and 5 years of IVF, I managed to get pregnant after I preyed. I will let you decide if preying had anything to do with it. I don't believe it did but it is the closest I have come to believing in God. Maybe when I am on my death bed, I will remember it, and it will help.
I've found it's a matter how I meditate or pray. The biggest challenge comes down to not thinking, more than anything else. Seriously hard to do at times. I suppose the process resembles when you can be wondering about the solution to a problem and, all of a sudden, you drift off into a daydreaming kind of state. It's in this state when the solution tends to naturally come in. Some people might see the solution in images, some may hear it in the form of words and some may get both. As I mentioned, some folk will say this happens when you channel a different part of your brain, whereas others will say it's divine channeling. Really doesn't matter what camp you're in, as long as you receive some form of constructive guidance. That's the objective. Next challenge comes down to not ignoring it, if it's constructive. Overall, this practice is something you could call 'Opening the mind and observing what naturally comes in'. Most people have done it on occasion without necessarily realising. Prayer or meditation is really the practice of consciously entering into this state. I should add, the trippy thing is...what comes to mind can often involve the word 'You'. Eg: 'I don't know what to do anymore. I'm so lost and in such despair. Please tell me what to do'. What may come to mind, 'You can't keep living like this. Something has got to change'. Having spoken to a lot of people about the 'You' phenomena, most people experience it. It's not at all unusual. The question becomes 'What or who is saying 'You' in that part of your dialogue?'. Again, doesn't matter where it's coming from, as long as it serves you in constructive ways. Atheist, Christian or Buddhist, all are served in such a state of meditation.
Can be times where nothing comes to mind, so I look for someone else with a more open mind and see what comes to them in the way of a natural solution. There can be other times where there's absolutely nothing divine about what comes to mind. You gotta question that kind of stuff, where it's coming from. Could be coming from the seriously depressing beliefs and mantras others have put in our head over the years, such as if a parent depressed us time and time again with the repeated mantra 'You'll never amount to anything'.
The answer to our prayers can also come in the form of meaningful coincidence. Two people saying 'I just don't understand what life's meant to be about' can mark the beginning of a circle of philosophers who seek answers together.