I'm not big on praying. A few days ago I called it absurd, even in the face of tragedy. Prayers alone have zero effect on anything or anyone. Prayers plus action to change things... that can work.
Philosophically, though, praying raises some interesting questions.
Is the entity being prayed to a personal being, or not? Usually we assume that it is, for good reason. Impersonal entities, like a stone, gravity, or a computer, aren't considered to be capable of responding to prayers.
(Nonetheless, I've engaged in quite of bit of dialoguing with computers over the years; particularly Windows machines where my side of the conversation consisted mostly of profanity and marvelously creative curses.)
This is why "people of the Book," Christians, Jews, and Muslims, pray, while people who believe that impersonal forces guide the cosmos, such as Taoists and Buddhists, don't. At least not in the same sense as monotheists do.
A Taoist or Buddhist prayer (using that term loosely) really is more of an intention directed to oneself.
It's main purpose is to alter the consciousness of the person uttering the "prayer" than to appeal to a separate and distinct conscious divinity. Likewise, Taoists and Buddhists don't believe that humans are separate and distinct from the cosmos, possessing (or being) an individualized self or soul.
So we see a certain symmetry operating here.
Those who pray to a personal God view themselves as "persons." This allows them to have a personal relationship with God, to enjoy the prospect of eternity in heaven, paradise, or wherever with their Best Godly Friend, to survive the demise of their body by virtue of an immortal soul.
Those who embrace an impersonal sense of the cosmos view themselves as integral aspects of the whole. There is nothing and no one to pray to, because nothing and no one is in control of the universe. Rather, everything is interconnected naturally.
This is a pleasingly scientific conception of reality. Also, in my opinion, the most genuinely spiritual (using that term loosely) way of looking upon the world.
Modern neuroscience agrees with ancient Taoism and Buddhism: there is no distinct "me" inside my head, or yours. No ethereal self or soul gazing upon the contents of consciousness from some supernatural height. No entity standing apart from the web of relationships that guide the course of everything in the universe.
In this sense, prayer reflects a lack of faith.
Those who pray for anything other than "thy will be done" (whether this be a natural or supernatural "will") are complaining that what did or will happen, shouldn't have. Instead of acceding to the reality of is, prayerful people substitute their personal vision of what should be.
Like I said, action is inevitable. We are born to act, born to desire, born to have goals we want to achieve. But we should realize that men and women propose, while nature disposes. And we are an integral aspect of nature.
No need to pray when there is no one to pray to, and no one, really, who is doing the praying.