Anthony de Mello told this story:
The disciple asked, “Master, how can I reach enlightenment?”
“We can no more make enlightenment happen than we can make the sun rise,” replied the master.
“Then why do we pray at all?” asked the bewildered disciple.
“So that we will be awake when the sun rises,” said the master.
Mark Thibodeaux, in Armchair Mystic, adds: “The growth in my relationship with God is a gift from God. It does not happen because of any effort on my part. My task in prayer, then, is to learn to approach God with open hands, so that God can place these gifts there.”
I will never recognize God in this world, in nature, in scripture, in people, if I do not know God. “And I will never really come to know God unless I am willing to put in the time, patience and practice necessary for this (or any!) relationship to thrive.”
That’s why we pray—to build a relationship, to be with God, to know God, to see God.
Note to Dude: To some extent, prayer helps me with my homesickness too.