A universal belief in a higher being brings with it an almost innate need to adore, thank, please, or supplicate to the chosen deity.
Christians like Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Presbyterians and others pray to God and Jesus and believe in the trinity--Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Some ask for help from the saints just like they would ask a friend to pray for them.
Muslims pray to Allah (God) and Jews pray to Adonai (God). Buddhists do not believe is any specific god and meditate instead. Hindus seemingly pray to many gods. Shiva is the destroyer of worlds, allowing for rebirth with the god Brahma. He is also responsible for positive death as in the destruction of ego and the shedding of old ideals and attachments. Kali is the goddess of time and transformation.
It is said that there are 330 million Hindu gods, one that is perfect for each person, but if you ask a person who worships one they will tell you they each represent the same divine and shapeless force of one spirit, Brahman.
Some worship dark gods like Satan or possibly one of his lesser demons like Baal, who was depicted as the demon who possessed Anthony Hopkins in the film The Rite. The movie showed the priest played by Hopkins living amongst cats, and frogs were featured frequently throughout the film.
Baal has been depicted as a three headed creature, with one head of a cat, one of a frog, and one a man.
Most religions express love, respect, want, or need to their god of choice through prayer. We are told to express worship through prayer, and to dedicate a certain amount of time daily to this ritual. If you are praying to one of the darker gods there is also a pretty straight forward way to show your love and affection--simply sell your soul! You can do it right here: (NOT recommended) http://demonical.com/sellyoursoul.htm
It seems it is much harder to pray properly to the Christian God. Although a devotee can pray at home or at church, I have seen endless websites and books based solely on the way to pray properly so this god can hear you, or not take what you are saying the wrong way. http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/BibleStudyAndTheology/perspectives/correct-way-to-pray-luke-18-goodwyn.aspx Among other things, this article talks about prayers that God cannot hear.
It says He can only hear prayers from the humble. Seems it might be a bit tough if you want to become humble and you are asking for help...
We are told to ask for forgiveness of the sins we have committed, and to be forgiven for the ones we don't even know we have done. Here is a Wiki list of how to do it right: http://www.wikihow.com/Pray-to-Jesus
Hindu prayers are different than Christian prayers. The chosen god or goddess is invoked through mantras or prayer. He is said to appear as if after a long journey and will be offered water, food, and clothing, and a lovely place to sit and rest. He may be entertained with music, incense, flowers, lights, or candles. He is offered the utmost care and respect, and in return his essence fills the home or place of prayer. This is a form of communion with the divine.
Although I would not call Shinto a religion, many people in Japan follow the ways of Shinto, or kami. Kami is a prehistoric "religious tradition influenced by Buddhism and Chinese religions". Although they do not believe in or focus on one all-knowing entity, the kami are the powers of nature such as the sun, earth, mountains, animals, streams, etc. Offerings are sometimes made to the kami, such as food like fish or vegetables which are later eaten. The spirits of the deceased are also revered and celebrated.
Shinto shrines can be found in groves of trees all over Japan. All the shrines have sacred gates (torii) and often contain water for symbolic purification of hands and mouth; larger shrines have main halls, buildings for offerings, and oratories. Inside the main hall resides the goshintai (god-body), which is sometimes represented by a mirror, but more often nothing at all. The classic Shinto shrine is the world-renowned Ise Shrine, the primary cult site for Amaterasu, arguably the most important kami. (from www.beliefnet.com)
Many prayers are focused on beings that are long gone and have left and important mark in history. We hear stories of Jesus if we are Christian or Kali if we are Hindu. No one that is alive has seen these beings. Although Mother Teresa died in 1997, her giving nature and offerings of help and caring are relevant to our lives now. Gandhi stood up against a harsh British rule and helped India through peaceful protest to find their way to freedom. Maybe they were both Jains, an Indian religion that focuses on non-violence to all living things. I don't think it would be a bad thing if we all focused on how to be better NOW and what we could do about it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on prayer.
After thought: I am not saying prayer is bad or obsolete, but it couldn't hurt to put as much positive thought and action into things that need help right now, and to support those that are currently helping.