Intercessory prayer is important in at least the same sense that it is important for a child to ask a parent for a pony. What matters most in the parent child relationship is not the answer to the request, but the process by which the encounter happens. No child has ever been hopelessly broken merely by a parent’s refusal to buy a pony in the same way that no child has ever achieved everlasting joy by receiving a pony. On the flip side, plenty of children learn resilience and patience when a parent can’t offer such an extravagant gift and plenty of others have been hopelessly spoiled by the assumption that they deserve everything they desire.
Neither answer inherently changes anything, but the process by which a yes or a no occurs does dramatically affect the way a child develops and relates to parents and others. To simply not ask does as much to reflect and shape the relationship as getting either answer. In prayer, as in asking for a pony, almost no lasting or meaningful change happens based on the answer – what does change both parties is the willingness to make what is inside of us known and the embrace of what is found deep inside. To no longer make known the desires of our hearts is to forego the possibility of intimacy with God.