God is said to be the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of this perceptible universe. However, such a god may not be a `personal’ god a single perceptible entity as depicted in idols and pictures. It is better to understand God as a phenomenon that is behind this perceptible creation.
The God Phenomenon may be managing creation only at a macro level rather than at the micro level. In other words, God Phenomenon creates a broad framework of laws and patterns but is unlikely to give me a promotion simply because i pray to Him that would be micro-management which the God Phenomenon may not want to get into.
There are two kinds of prayer. The first is a prayer for getting one or the other worldly wish fulfilled. Majority of the people praying belong to this category. They believe in a kind and omnipotent personal god who grants them their wishes in response to their prayers and appeasements by way of worship and material offerings. But from a rational perspective, it is impossible to say with any certainty if one’s prayer of this kind is really answered by such a god.
As we know, some of our wishes seem to get fulfilled while others do not, however sincerely we may have prayed.It is possible that our prayer gets granted if what we ask for is in alignment with the big picture. Besides, what happens when, for example, two warriors are engaged in a fight to finish, and both pray for victory? God cannot make both of them victors! In such a scenario, God will be perceived by the loser as one not granting prayers. A person who is rational and yet a believer in the God Phenomenon may not like to pray to a transactional god who needs something in return for the favour granted.
There are many stories of saints and sages who had exercised miraculous powers to grant the prayers of their devotees in a demonstrable way. But that may have been only to show that there is a `supernatural’ power beyond the ordinarily perceptible universe and which can affect our life in a `miraculous way’ as directed by that power. However, such `feats’ were performed only in a limited way in a limited region over a limited period of time, possibly with the limited purpose of restoring people’s faith in a supernatural power.
The second category of prayer is when one does not pray for any worldly desire. He prays only for spiritual objective of liberation. Now, who listens to this kind of prayer, if at all? Again it is better not to think of a personal god who has attuned his receiver to such prayers. Instead, it may be that such prayers are listened to by our own mind. Such prayers gradually bring about a change in our own mind, in our attitudes, in our view of worldly life and that itself leads to liberation from attachment to the worldly life.
It makes sense not to pray for any worldly wishes. Simply accept life as it comes while doing good karma. Pray only for strength and equanimity to face hardships and suffering in life as and when you are faced with them. Pray for thankfulness when something that happens pleases you. Pray for detachment from the perceptible world.