1.Praying to one's God, Goddess, Guru, is one of the most personal interactions between an individual and the One s(h)e believes in. There is no set method or formula of how one needs to communicate with the powers beyond and within.
2. Of course each religion and religious texts have prescribed certain sets of ways or methodology as to how one needs to pray. The manner in which one needs to prepare for prayer so often varies from religion to religion. Yes, each one advocates that the body needs to be cleaned. A bath would really be great. I guess God likes the fragrance of soap and powder. Then one needs to wear clean clothes.
3. Then you have a prescribed direction to face when praying. Like Zoroastrians usually are told to face the sun and if for whatever reason that is not possible then one is told to face the South direction, as according to me, when one faces the South direction, one's back is never to the Sun. For Zoroastrains the North direction is an emphatic negative but in Vastu and according to various prayers said to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali, the North direction is advocated.
4.The Muslis are told to face the holy Kabba. Whichever direction the Kabba is, a devout Muslim is supposed to face that direction. So in India, a Muslim would face the West as then s(h)e would be facing the Kabba, but if a Muslim is in another continent, the person would face say, the north or south or east, as the Kabba would be in that direction.
5.Some religions prescribe the head gear too. Some make head gear mandatory, like Zoroastrians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews & then there are various religions or ways of life where head gear is not needed, like the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians. Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians, Muslims never pray bare feet. There has to be some kind of covering. A prayer mat, a rug, a sheet of cloth, feet in socks, slippers or even shoes. That would be seen as a sign of great disrespect where Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists & Jains are concerned.
6.Some religions consider it a sin to enter the place of worship when a woman is menstruating. Hindus and Zoroastrians consider it blasphemy for a woman to enter their place of worship during those days. But Christians and Sikhs do not seem to have any issue with a woman in her menses.
7.As a Zoroastrian, it does not matter what food one has consumed before entering a Fire Temple. But it would be sacrilege for many Hindus to learn of somebody consuming meat and visit their Temples. First pay your respect to God, Goddess, Guru, and then stuff your face with whatever you so desire. Thus, there are ways and ways and many contradictory to each other, but all written in the Holy Books, about how one should prepare to pray.
8.There are good reasons for every such prescribed religious modus operandi, custom & traditions. I would have written about all that but then like always, I am clueless. Just as each religious tradition advocates a particular diet for one's spiritual growth & more than often each religious custom's dietary beliefs contradicts the other vastly, so is the case in the method of prayers. If diet was so important for spiritual growth & if each religious custom, spoken or assumed is writ in stone, then there would have to be various heavens based on each one's diet.
9.For a Jain, even consuming an onion hinders spiritual growth, while a Muslim will abstain eating pork but gorge on beef, a Hindu worships the cow but many eat chicken, fish, eggs and pork, while a Zoroastrian and a Christian will consume any blasted thing leisurely walking, swimming or flying about. So, either there is one Heaven that goes beyond diet or there are various Heavens depending on what one has stuffed his or her face with while on mother earth.
10. So how does one pray? Does one cover the head or not? Wear shoes or bear feet? Loudly or softly? With bath or without and what if you want to pray when there is no water about or one can't go and freshen up? Clean set of clothes but what if one doesn't have a fresh set of clothes or what if a chap cleaning the sewage wants to reach out to his or her God, Goddess, Guru? Feet in shit and piss, clothes smelling to high heaven, body stinking with the sewage clinging on, head covered yes but with all the dirt floating about, and the individual wants to pray.
11. There needs to be power for anything to defy gravity and our prayers if not fuelled with pure innocent love and gratitude and yearning, will not have the velocity to break through and go beyond the beyond. We hardly get connection on our mobile phone, when in a lift, so imagine, connecting to The Boss, who has a very questionable network system going about.
12. It would be safe to deduce that the power of prayer is more in the heart and the spirit and in the love and in the yearning for The Elusive One, rather than the attire and sense of hygiene and modus operandi. Yes, sure, it would be great if you were to follow whatever it is you are told by your religious elders, but that is just packaging. We know by now, most often, packaging is a surreal way of bullshitting everybody, including oneself about the true contents within.