The lifting of mind and heart to be in the presence of God could be a definition of prayer but I prefer to think of it as a dialogue. Of course the true atheist would not be able to have this dialogue since they do not believe there is a supreme being. The agnostic has questions as to a supreme being's existence so I guess they could have this dialogue. Many times the prayer dialogue is only offered when there is a crisis and consists of only petition. We are in trouble and we need help and everything seems out of control so we turn to something outside of ourselves because it is completely out of our hands. So we wait if we get our answer, the job we,ve been praying for or the person's health be it mental or physical. If everything turns out OK then we feel the dialogue was complete, we asked and He/She answered. If it doesn't turn out the way we wanted then we feel the dialogue was incomplete; we asked and He didn't respond. Of course He always answers it is just we didn't like the response.
First of all the dialogue requires that we acknowledge His greatness and we adore Him. Secondly, we Thank him for everything. Thirdly, we ask him for forgiveness for all who we have wronged, then we hit him with the petitions but always in the theme of the "OUR FATHER", "Thy Will Be Done!". Then we be quiet and wait for Him to respond, and He always does it is just that we don't want to tune Him in rather we want what we want and usually right away.
Bill Mahre, in his latest HBO routine and his film "Religiosity", ridicules organized religion and in effect all believers by taking what we do and reducing it to trivialities on the level of grade school kids. In a way he is correct. Not only are a lot of atrocities, both now and in the past, attributable to Religion, but we who pray have reduced God to the old guy with a white beard who is more accountant than the all powerful supreme being who loves us and wants the best for us. Many of us treat him as our Santa Claus who gives us candy and toys if we are good and coal or worse fire if we are bad. Through prayer we can find the true God and then we can adore Him easily, thank him graciously, try atoning for wrongdoings and ask Him for whatever is truly needed to bring us closer to Him and eventually die peacefully, and the dialogue is complete.