common sense alone says that most people wouldn't go to the trouble of asking if they didn't think it would work.
"Arguments based on common sense are generally false. Sense is not common and when people are using what sense they have about things that they don't understand the chances are that their sense is misleading them.
In my experience petitionary prayers that are a part of a liturgy or a religious ritual are not expected to be answered. The rituals and liturgies have a powerful unifying value for those who choose to believe. Whether this unity is with God or with their religious fellowship is really unimportant. But the petitionary prayers are integral to the ritual and liturgy not because of expectation of fulfillment but as a promise that God or the religious fellowship is listening and paying attention. Prayer circles have the same function. It is not that God will respond if a lot of people care, it is the fact that a lot of people care that is important.
I have spent thousands of hours studying and singing liturgical works not because I believe that any of the prayers contained therein will be answered, obviously since I do not believe in the referent God, but I learn much about how people respond to things like death and tragedy that they cannot understand. The prayer for peace Dona Nobis Pacem that ends the mass is at least ironic as Beethoven reminds us in the Missa Solemnis with the martial interlude. Do people really believe that God will give us peace in our time or in our lives? If not why have they been praying for just that every Sunday since the Nicene Creed was adopted? What does common sense have to say about that? "