What is prayer?

I was told to listen to an archived podcast of "Speaking of Faith" with Krista Tippett and could not get it out of my head. In fact on the way to doing the funeral of John Regan Vance I was without anything to say. I had never had the honor of doing a funeral from start to finish by myself and I was terrified. While listening to this podcast on prayer (which I highly recommend) my soul became calm and I began to consider what it prayer. My reflection on this podcast leaves me with two things about prayer that I will continue to hold with me:

1) Sanskrit is like Latin in that how you say the words is just as important as the words themselves. This idea made me consider that sometimes in my searching for just the right words in all situations and prayers, I forget that words are limited and the feeling and emotion is just as important as the words themselves. How I say what I pray makes a difference in me. The "om" of Hindu prayers is meant to focus the person on the vibrations of each of the three sounds. Sitting in the car prior to the funeral, I began to try our the "om" the podcast was talking about. After three of four of these "om" prayers, the vibrations and crescendo of the final "mmmm" made me feel like I had just been to a spa and got a back rub. What a prayer.
2) French poet Simone Weil is credited with this saying, "Absolutely unmixed attention is Prayer." Notice the emphasis is on the action of "attention" not on prayer. The important thing is attention. Thus, this could be used to argue that even non-religious people pray. The girl who hammers out a song on a piano is in prayer. The person who is learning to read and sounding out each syllable is in prayer. Prayer does not just happen in the Church and being in Church does not always mean we are in prayer.

So I continue to wonder at the vastness and yet simplicity of the human need to pray.