"If we invoke some God who shares and sponsors our particular cultures of enmity, then our invocations - and our lives - need correction." Allen Verhey in his commentary on Ephesians
Prayer is not a nod to God before the main event. It is not a moment of silence for the sake of the Almighty before we get down to business. It is not a pretense of piety before the mudslinging begins. Who are we trying to kid? God must be profoundly insulted by our use of prayer and attempted uses of God (read Isaiah 58).
John Calvin said prayer is the "chief exercise of faith." It is the center of life for a Christian. Prayer is a practice, a habit, a routine which are good things. We learn to pray by praying and praying with a community of prayer. It is not a technique we learn to use in order to get what we want.
Prayer is a good all by itself. It is the main event. In prayer we attend to God, Verhey says, and that is it. In God's light we see better.
Learning to pray we also learn humility. We are not gods but limited, finite, sinful creatures who need God's grace moment by moment. We learn to be thankful for God's gifts each day. We learn to care for people especially those persons who our culture shuns. We learn not to trust in ourselves but God.
Karl Barth called the Christian life a life of prayer, a life of invocation. We call upon God in our lives in many ways. We confess, lament, bless, praise, petition and remember who this God is and what God has done for us.
We pray because God invites us to. We pray in response to God's word to us. We pray because God is here "around, beneath, before, and beside us all the time, but if we never actively stop to notice this, to call out a breath of thanksgiving, or petition. lament or praise, then we live falsely, pretending that we live as independent beings." (Martha L. Moore - Keish)