I've let it slip for a long time, actually. Years. I should fix that.
Prayer as the last refuge of a scoundrel is pretty pointless. Prayer as a plea or bargain in a hopeless situation where one has no prior relationship with the force to which one appeals is kind of futile. It can get stuff done, but it's usually costly and often works out worse in the end.
In the HBO TV series Rome, Pullo's approach to prayer and magic seems kind of like this halfarsed, foxhole kind of thing, and yet he does have a strong relationship with his gods in his own way. Vorenus, on the other hand, respectfully goes through the motions, but doesn't quite have the passion and affection for his gods that Pullo shows. It's passion and affection that makes prayer meaningful.
The thing about prayer is that it is a conversation. That's all. It's not an invocation or a spell, it's a conversation that you have with a beloved friend. If you and your friend help each other out from time to time, that's quite different from appealing to a power for intercession only when you feel need.
I don't understand prayer to absentee gods or spirits. I don't understand faith, to be quite blunt. It's just not in my nature. Faith as this spiritual feeling that demands the complete absence of experience and evidence, I find it quite incomprehensible.
As to the objective nature of prayer, I choose not to speculate. I know that in a devotional trance or deep prayer, I experience feelings of presences greater or other than myself. I sometimes feel assisted, protected or guided by the ones that love me. If you want to call that reciprocity, so be it.
30 Days of Paganism