My problem with prayer is most certainly of my own making.
I don't believe in coincidence. I have no idea what the next part of personal theology leads when based on that concept. It implies Someone/Something In Charge. It implies that such a being cares about us. It implies a Creator, and that's where I have to stop.
I think I can believe that we are the result of a creation, but I think there is a real evolution component to that. It is possible that the Holy If Mad Scientist who started it all created up to the dinosaurs. As with so many inventions, it started big. Huge. And lessons were learned. So the Holy If Mad Scientist discovered that living creatures could be made smaller, much as player pianos went from around 70 keys to the full 88, as computers went from occupying a full floor of a building to being fully portable, as recordings went from wax cylinders to iPods.
The Holy If Mad Scientist killed off most of his/her/its living creations and started over. But then I fall apart in my thinking. If the Holy If Mad Scientist set things in motion and checked in from time to time, how do I explain "no coincidences"? Or if he/she/it stuck around to see how things progress, then why does he/she/it seem to take a hands-off maintenance? Has he/she/it created angels to intervene on his/her/its behalf? Is that one-to-one or is it like a social service agency with one angel looking after a thousand people?
I haven't a clue.
I have a certain guilt about prayer. Having been raised Presbyterian, I was taught to "take it to the lord in prayer." And that's fine, except that it completely clashes with another way I was raised: You don't ask others for help. Because of that, I find it difficult to ask the Holy If Mad Scientist for anything. Especially anything personal.
I always feel I'm asking Santa for what I want. No matter how I try to phrase it, it boils down to "I want." That's not how I want to talk to him/her/it. Even if it's a need, it still feels like a wish list and I don't know how to get around that feeling. Who am I to ask for something? I'm supposed to work things out on my own. I hear prayers by The Truly Religious and it's all "gimme gimme gimme." I read prayers and see "gimme gimme gimme." There's "I want" or "give me/us" or "kill those people" or "please don't let...happen to me." Or prayers for others, but it's still a do this or do that approach. With a "please" attached, but it's still a do this.
One of the few things I distinctly remember my favorite minister talking about concerned the hymn "In the Garden." He quoted the chorus with emphasis: "He walks with ME and he talks with ME and he tells ME I am his own." He thought that was not particularly a good approach. I agree. But then, how do I talk to the Holy If Mad Scientist? What is appropriate to ask? How does one approach asking without sounding like a Santa wish list?
My mother used to remind that "God answers prayers, but he may not answer the way you want." The thing is, I don't even know how to ask.