Disclaimer: I do not pray.
I go to Temple, and I believe In Advaita Brahman. The world has no separate existence apart from Brahman. The experiencing self (jīva) and the transcendental self of the Universe (ātman) are in reality identical (both are Brahman), though the individual self seems different as space within a container seems different from space as such. These cardinal doctrines are represented in the anonymous verse “brahmasatyamjaganmithya; jīvo brahmaivanaaparah” (Brahman is alone True, and this world of plurality is an error; the individual self is not different from Brahman). Plurality is experienced because of error in judgments (mithya) and ignorance (avidya). Knowledge of Brahman removes these errors and causes liberation from the cycle of transmigration and worldly bondage.
This is in GD section so we can have open discussion. I am a seeker, not a KNOWER, or all-knowing.
While it is fashionable to say that all religions are the same, and so are all prayers, the fact is that Hindu prayers are very different from Christian and Muslim prayers, and also from Sikh, Buddhist and Jain. This is because prayers exist in a mythic worldview, and depending on the worldview, the nature of the prayer is different. For example, Buddhists and Jains do not have the concept of a single all-powerful God, that is found in Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, so naturally a Buddhist prayer is bound to be different from a Muslim or Sikh prayer.
Christians, Muslims and Sikhs believe in an all-powerful singular formless God. The purpose of prayer is to acknowledge this God and experience humility before God’s greatness and grandeur. Among Christians, there is an additional purpose — to ask for forgiveness for sins, a concept not found in Islam. In Islam, prayer is reinforcing the article of faith that God is great and there is no God but God (Allah in Arabic). Everything happens because of Allah.
In Sikhism, the prayer is to acknowledge that the formless singular God treats all creatures equally, thus alluding to the social inequality that is part of Hindu faith. The Sikhs also acknowledge the gurus just as Muslims acknowledge the Prophet and Christians acknowledge Jesus, as the son of God, who leads one towards God.
In these prayers, there is a sense of consistency and homogeneity, as everyone is part of a single faith, and there is one way of praying. No innovations are allowed. The church, mosque and gurdwara is a place where the faithful gather, and everyone, all together, pray in the same way, using the same prayers and same rituals. This evokes a sense of equality before God, and humility before a powerful force.
In Buddhism, prayers are not to any deity. Prayers are meant to help the mind focus and concentrate, and make the journey towards either mindlessness or mindfulness. Here, prayer is part of the meditative process that is central to Buddhism. In some Buddhist schools, one does pray to the Adi Buddha, or the eternal Buddha, who lives in the pure land of Sukhavati, and watches over all humanity as Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, or to the Buddha-chitta within all human beings. Thus, there is an object of prayer, who is the wise teacher, or the wisdom possibility, but not God.
In Jainism, prayers are offered to the great sages, teachers, gurus, and deities, who enable the Jain in his personal journey of purification. Every individual prays in his individual way, based on prescribed techniques and rituals. There are special prayers where the holy men of yore, such as arhats and tirthankaras, are celebrated and their glory acknowledged. There is, however, no all-powerful God here who controls one destiny or makes rules about the world. The gods and gurus enshrined in temples are those who help us negotiate our way through the world that is an impersonal infinite and eternal entity functioning with its own rules.