Prayer is many things. We think of it as talking to God, or as listening to God. We treasure prayers that are written beautifully and seem to speak directly from our own hearts. We talk to God in the dark places of our lives, asking for help, courage, comfort.
We listen for that still quiet voice deep within our soul saying, "this is the way, this way leads home". Sitting quietly in the stillness, watching the thoughts drift through our mind, we listen.
We wonder if the voice we hear is God's voice, or is it merely our own voice. The words of the sacred texts come to mind, but is God speaking in those words to me now, or is it just my mind remembering things I've read.
Prayer is a place of waiting, a space into which we step, away from the incessantly buzzing thoughts of our individual life, and watch for some door or window of the soul to open.
All religions tell us that we have come from God and that our true home is with God, in God; the true nature of our "self" is not the conscious ego-self which runs and manages our outer life, but is a spark of the nature of God. Deep in our core being, the soul remembers what it is and struggles to reach out and touch the face of God.
Our soul is a reflection of God but we each have accumulated corruptions which hide the reflection of God's face in our particular life. Each of us has collected a uniquely individual set of inherited, learned and acquired pollutants. The debris of our wants, fears, desires, and angers, obscures the reflection of God in our souls. God's love can shine through in varying degrees depending on the amount of garbage which we have each allowed to cloud our mirror souls.
But the light of God within each one will still find its way out, around and past all the accretions, allowing different aspects of God's purity to shine through in that particular life.
We continually see our self and our life and our world through the eyes of our ego-self, yet the cry of our soul is to remember its source and awaken into the presence of God. Prayer is that sitting of the mind in remembrance of God, and in that place the threads of connection find their way between the soul and its well-spring, binding the soul ever closer to its first and purest love.
As we place ourselves in conscious thoughts of God, God's presence begins to seep through our awareness of our self, our life, our world. Prayer allows us to recognize and notice the hand of God, the face of God, the presence of God.
Prayer washes the debris from the mirror of our soul. Our conscious mind collects those things on which we focus it. When we repeatedly turn our thoughts toward God, thoughts of greed or anger or self indulgence begin to gradually wear away from the mind. Our conscious mind can, through prayer, make a way for the soul to look out and see God everywhere and in everything.