(For students of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of the University of Illinois - I'm on retreat with them this weekend.)
What is praying? Praying is talking with God about what God and I are thinking and doing together. This is the best definition of prayer I have ever heard.
Praying is communicating with God about The Mission. In praying I meet with my Commander and receive my marching orders.
In praying I experience comfort, healing, deliverance, and rescue. I receive encouragement. I am told that I am loved. I get corrected and directed, which calls for obedience. I find out what God wants from me and what he wants me to do.
This definition or praying ups the ante in my life. It makes following Jesus more exciting and more real. God really does expect me to follow him. This gets practical whenever I hear God call my name and say, "John, I want you to do/go/say ________.”
Praying is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, a “conversation with God.” It is a dialogical give-and-take, between God and me.