I’ve been thinking about the line from the Bible Dictionary, “The object of prayer is … to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that … are made conditional on our asking for them.” Often in Church, we ask for group prayers or fasts to help someone in special need. Why would my blessings be made conditional on someone else also asking for me? Or made conditional on getting a certain number of people praying for me?
When I read your question I am not seeing from this paragraph where the Lord has put a condition on “others” in order for us to receive an answer to our prayer; although, I do recognize the teaching that where two or more are gathered in the name of Christ, He will be there also. Let’s review the whole statement from the Bible Dictionary so others can read the whole statement also:
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.” (Bible Dictionary, Topic – Prayer)
The teachings and conditions are as follows:
1) We need to learn the “true” relationship we have with God as our Father; we are his children.
2) The difficulties we find in prayer are a result of forgetting this relationship (or possible not fully comprehending this relationship)
3) The will of the Father and will of the son/daughter (child) are brought into correspondence with each other
4) Prayer is not to change the will of the Father
5) Prayer is to secure for ourselves what blessings the Father already is willing to grant
6) The condition is us asking for it (which is the point you are making)
7) Another condition is that we are to put forth work or some effort before we obtain an answer
In this paragraph I am not able to find any clarification that our prayers are dependent or conditioned by someone else asking for them, nor is any “number” of people mentioned in order to receive an answer. The concept being taught for group prayer is that when more are gathered, then it will draw more prayers to the Father requesting or asking for the same thing. As a father myself, at times one of my children will come to me and ask for something. I don’t act right away, for mine own reasons, but when he brings his brother and sister with him asking for the same thing, and they are asking for the same thing I at times will act more quickly.
I can see one reason why God may wait for others (not the condition, just simply waiting) is for us to show love to our fellowmen, our brothers and sisters. An opportunity for us to honor our baptismal covenants. If one person in this world is fasting and praying for rain it still has efficacy; although, if the whole earth and all the sons and daughters of God are praying and fasting for rain, well, it seems there is more power and efficacy — and yet — all this still hinges on the will of the Father and our willingness to submit to the will of the Father, not to change it. I assume the real hard part is the concept of accepting the will of the Father when in our limited understanding it doesn’t make any sense, but we submit (sometimes cheerfully and sometimes with frustration and maybe anger).