Do both at the same time. A prayer doesn't have to be long - just a heart's cry out to God is a prayer.
Physical help comes first.
Typically when people pray, they're doing it over something they have little control over. Like say a family member gets cancer. There's only so much doctors can do, so all that's left is praying. Whether there's actually a God that listens and can help is irrelevant. If it makes people feel better to pray or have a prayer said for them, they shouldn't be ridiculed for it.