For me, prayer is an affirmation and expression of thankfulness, not a petition.
When I was in elementary school, we attended a chapel service once a week. I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to Reverend Rewick, singing hymns and generally not paying much attention. From all those hours there, I remember one story.
A man fell off a cliff and as he tumbled down he began to pray. “Dear God,” he beseeched. “Help me. I don’t want to die. I promise to be a good person and not do anything bad again.”
He continued to fall and his prayer became more fervent. “Dear God, please save me. I’ll do anything you ask.”
He still fell and as the ground got closer he pleaded again, “Please help me, God. I’ll dedicate my life to your service.”
Eight feet before being dashed against rocks, he saw a branch. His arm shot out, he grabbed the branch and came to a stop a foot from the ground. He gasped for breath, then said, “That’s okay, God, I’ve got a branch.”
I know that I ask for help in the difficult times and then cruise along mindlessly when times are good. Like taking good health for granted.
We used to do a grace at dinner which was the most basic of prayers. We held hands and said together, “Thank you.”
At its core, prayer is this affirmation, a thanks for life and all we’ve been given.
Sometimes before going to sleep I’ll say a prayer. It’s a simple mantra.
“Dear God, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Give me the strength to do what’s right and to love those around me.”
That says it all. The only other thing I could add is not “thanks for the fish,” but “thanks for the branch.”