First off I need to make a distinction. Prayer as meditation is just that — meditation. Prayer asking for intercession is nonsense.
On my way home (ok, if I take the long way) there’s a sign on someone’s front lawn: “Pray to end abortion.” I’m having trouble thinking of something more useless. In fact it’s double-ly useless. Let’s ignore the abortion issue since I don’t want to go there now, let’s concentrate on the “pray” part of things.
Let’s pretend that dude here is actually praying for the end of abortion. What is that really going to accomplish? Nothing. Nothing at all. If you want to do something at least try to do something — write your congress-critter or whatever you want to do. Remember the saying “God helps thous who help themselves.” By just sitting there inert you’re doing nothing.
One step further, putting the sign up front does even less. Is that your way of delegating prayer to someone else? (!)
What the hell, man? Really?
Same thing goes for a lot pf things. Praying for the poor? Give them money or a job; praying does nothing except make you feel better about yourself. It’s your own personal opium. Of you want something done, do it yourself.
Same thing with the box which is the Church. Jesus spoke that God is everywhere. Why must limit yourself to thinking inside the literal and proverbial box? If God is everywhere, go and find God yourself. If he (she?) is in the box — good for you. If God is in the mountains, go there. Plains? The shore? Go where you have the clarity of vision to see the truth the way it is. You don’t need to pray or meditate in the box. (By the way, care you hazard a guess at where the phrase “Jack in the box” came from?)
Again, I want to contrast this with the prayer as meditation. If your mantra is a a prayer, then it’s just a way of clearing your mind and letting you focus on the task at hand. As long as the result becomes concrete action then it’s done some good.