Any refusal to recognize reality, for any reason, has disastrous consequences.
— Ayn Rand
Prayer as it is usually approached seems strange to me. Let's see if I've got this right: my friend has cancer, so I pray to God that She heal her. So in other words, God wasn't going to heal her, but because I've prayed I'm somehow going to change God's mind? "Okay, okay, " says God, "I wasn't going to heal her, but since you asked so nicely I'll change my mind and grant your request." Really?
Praise is another one. According to the Westminster Confession((See here)), for example, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." Why? Does God really need our praise? Would Albert Einstein want ants to chant "you are smart, you are smart" forever? Why would he want that?
Although prayer can be effective, I wonder if it also doesn't serve a more fundamental purpose: it's an opportunity for me to acknowledge How Things Really Are. It's an opportunity for me to acknowledge Her sovereignty over the situation about which I'm praying. Or the person for whom I'm praying. It's an opportunity to remember the reality of God's immanence.
Likewise praise. When I praise Him, I am remembering Who Is In Charge. And I'm terrible at remembering that moment by moment, so I need all the practice I can get. So then, praise is for my benefit, to remind me of the reality that God is sovereign.
So I wonder if one of the primary purposes of both prayer and praise is remembering the Reality of God's sovereignty. To shift my inner focus from myself to the Divine again and again — my attention span being so impossibly short. Maybe it isn't so much that God needs prayer and praise, but that I do.