Well, as per usual, I haven't posted for a significant period of time, and I can't make good on my promises to post more regularly. So, no promises this time. Don't bother leaving nasty notes. I know I'm bad.
Anyhow, I think the purpose of prayer, in answer to Joe's question, is to bring one closer to God. You have to think of Him in order to bring yourself closer to his will, and you have to invite him into your life in order to know him.
There appear to be different types/forms of prayer. Some people live and work in silence, engaging in active prayer through work. For some people prayer can be verbal, and it can take a specific chant-like form, i.e., Nicene or Apostles Creed and/or nonstructured form. Structured prayers often tell a story of the christian faith. For example, consider the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the father, the Almighty,
maker of Heaven and Earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
True God from True God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Creed attempts to summarize the tenants of Christian beliefs, and in essense rejects/excludes other ideas as unwholesome and philosophically unsupportable. For example, Jesus is True God as much as God is true God because they are one--hence, a mystery is born.
I pray because I want to know Him.