What exactly IS prayer to God? What is it NOT? What makes for an effective communion with our heavenly Father and Creator of the entire Universe?
Prayer is more than simply having a conversation with a Being who made us and who oversees our entire destiny. It is an act of worship and reverence. It is a conscious choice to connect "up close and personal" with the One whose very existence is the definition of love, "The one who does not love does not know God because God is love." (1John 4:8).
Prayer is the means by which we acknowledge and strengthen our relationship with the Eternal and seek out His will for our lives. It is the avenue by which we can honestly confess our sins, ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ, and cry out to God for help in overcoming them and the trials of life. It is also the way we can petition our heavenly Father for the benefit and blessing of others - even those who use and persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus himself placed great emphasis on prayer during his ministry. He prayed all night regarding whom should be his inner circle of twelve disciples (Luke 6:12 - 13) and talked to God fervently just before his arrest and death (Matthew 26:36 - 44, Mark 14:32 - 40, etc.). He asked our Father in heaven to strengthen the faith of Peter so that he would not fall into the devil's hands (Luke 22:31- 32) and besought God to give the Holy Spirit to all who repent and obey (John 14:15 - 16).
What is it NOT?
True communion with God is not a religious ritual meant to appease an all-powerful Deity. It is not the means by which we can bargain with or extort from God (as if it were possible) to give us what we want (or demand!). It is also not a sign, of itself, that we are more righteous or better than others.