I am a theist. I do believe in God. Sometimes people tend to ask me, how can I, despite studying Psychology? Because, according to psy, seeing and talking to something that does not exist in objective reality, is psychotic. And yet, religion is an exception, because it is largely accepted as a culturally prevalent and widespread phenomenon.
However, my prayer has nothing to do with religion. I sometimes pray in the form of Namaz, or I just sit and talk. This is not irrational behaviour, however. I always find out if there is a logic behind some practise and only then do I follow it. For instance, I know that fasting in Ramzan is good for the metabolism, and so I do it. And I have also found that most religious practices do have reasons, or at least had in the beginning, but they were not or could not be passed down the gnerations for some reason or other.
Sometimes, not everyone will understand the logic behind each practise, so they are not told. Sometimes, they are told, but it gets distorted through the times. Therefore, we are left with a mechanical set of actions that we do follow as rituals, but we have no idea why. That is not how my take on prayer is, however.
Whenever we pray, we are asked to clear our minds of other things, and concentrate solely on the prayer. People have misinterpreted this to think that it is the words of the prayer that are to be concentrated on. No, its the action. Words are made such that may rhyme easily and can be remembered well SO that we can easily concentrate on the act of praying.
The act of praying (or meditation) will include movements or counting that is repetative. That is characteristic across all cultures. The reason for the action being repetitive is the same. So that the process gets automatized, so you don’t go off to sleep as you have something to do. But, at the same time, you concentrate not on the movements, but the actual prayer.
So what is the actual prayer? It is when you clear your mind of all else, and try to harness your energy. Now you of course want this to be positive energy and not negative, so all things related to happiness, health and well-being are said as a part of the prayer. I also remember reading somewhere that when we join our hands and align them vertically, our energy gets a proper direction to be generated in.
As I was researching about Islam, I came across a website who have interpreted it very well. They say that God is nothing but a great source of energy. Our souls are minuscule parts of this energy. (So the “har kisi me bhagwan hai” saying deems true). And when we die, we have to face this huge body of energy and our soul is too weak for that. When we pray or meditate we strengthen our soul. This is not only helpful in the supposed after life, but in this one too.
After a prayer or a meditation session that has been done properly, one feels unburdened and ready to face the world. This is why I pray.