Prayer is not something that you impose on yourself or anyone else. Prayer is a natural call for help, or a natural expression of gratefulness. Prayer can happen only on two occasions: 1. When you are desperately in need of something then you pray. When you realize that you are weak and you cannot handle something, that is when you ask for help and that is a prayer. 2. When you realize that you have received more than what you really deserve, and it has all come to you as a blessing and as a gift, then the gratefulness that you express becomes a prayer. And if you extend this a little further, another occasion when prayer rises from within you is when you are in deep love with the maker of the universe or the divinity,in whatever form or formless way you perceive it to be. That is devotion.
So prayer is something which happens spontaneously. And it's good to have a few rituals associated with prayer as it adds some colors to life. When you pray in a particular manner by lighting a candle or something that brings up to the surface those emotions that are sleeping in you. The benefits of prayer are: 1. It invokes those emotions that are sleeping within you. 2. It takes away the worry and burden in your head. 3. It builds confidence in you and you feel the connection from your side. You are already connected to the divine, but from your side you start realizing your connection to the higher power. 4. It puts you into a routine. Suppose you make it a habit of praying every day, maybe the first four days go without any experience, but on the fifth day, you experience something. It's almost like any other sadhana. So make prayer a practice in your life so that you know you have something to do that is ethereal.
Prayer is the way to connect to the something that is not so tangible but is existing. So, prayer could be one such link to the unknown and unseen. Falling in love with the unknown is faith.