As a believer in Jesus, prayer *is* doing something. But I understand why non-believers see it as inaction.
— dk (@dwightknoll) June 13, 2016
If you don’t believe that God exists or is concerned with people’s thoughts, desires, and longings, then prayer is at best a time to get people together as a prelude to action, at worst an excuse to dismiss the topic as soon as the prayer is done. That whole spectrum exists for me too, I’ve prayed when God was calling me to action, but because God exists and I am part of his church sometimes my job is simply to pray.
The Body of Christ is not a democratic order. In a democracy you have to find a majority (in our system, a majority of the political power) to act, so individual concerns fall by the wayside and you end up not caring why people support your position as long as they lend you their power.
In the church the why is most important. The same action taken by two different people can be a sin or a good work, wholly dependent on each person’s heart (Cf. the last part of Romans 11:23 “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”). The unity of the church is not like the unity of our political parties. Some pray, some show up, some work miracles, some administrate.
If this piques your interest I recommend Richard Foster’s Streams of Living Water. If you want more from the original source, look at 1 Corinthians 12:12 and the vicinity. There to the end of the chapter stands on its own pretty well.