If you've never read this blog before and are just now reading this piece, I recommend that you spend some time getting acquainted with the archives. In there, I include a lot of the prejudices that lead me to feelings and conclusions I will address in this particular post. Take it as you will.
No matter what religion or system of belief that involves the ritualistic worship and deification of some higher being, I find that in my opinion, there is a prevailing fallacy present in almost every case to which many if not most practitioners fall victim: The idea that prayer, unto itself, is a predominately viable solution to resolving problems.
Catholics do it. Pagans do it. Even ecclesiastic fleas do it. (Sorry.. couldn't resist).
But in my experience, rarely does anybody think to address all that can be accomplished in the physical plane before jumping straight to the spiritual.
Need a job? Light some candles and burn some incense.
Home life suck? Say some rosaries and go to Mass.
Feeling down on yourself? Go to Temple and do some baptisms.
Heaven forbid we work a little harder at networking people and sending out some more resumes... or directly address some of our problems at home.. or think about and act upon the non-pharmaceutical factors in mood and well being.
Personally I'm undecided on the issue if prayer does anything more than to self-placate and soothe ourselves, or if it may have some connected property that tips fate in our favor. But I know unequivocally that using ONLY prayer is a great way to become disgruntled with your deity.
The old Christian saying about God helping those who help themselves isn't just a boot-strappy Libertarian agenda.
In my opinion, if God(s) is up there offering us a nudge here and there based on our willingness to pay them homage, they aren't going to go out of their way if the most we're doing is standing there like a spoiled petulant child with our hand out, pointing and praying at the emptiness of our palm. Rather I find it more likely that should we put forth every effort we have to do what we need to do, and in doing so find ourselves at a tipping point and at that point pray for help, it is then that they will be more likely to tip in our favor as an acknowledgement of our efforts.
I respect those whom use prayer as a giving of thanks and as a means to offer help and support to others. And certainly as a means of meditation and introspection. And I don't really begrudge people asking for help for themselves as long as they are making their own efforts and not just looking for a supernatural hand-out. As for others, karma will do its part, and it ain't pretty.