Prayer means laying yourself down utterly, on your big stupid face, dropping your bullshit and self-importance and desire for a new bike, lover, or reason to go on living, and allowing yourself to remember for like one second that there's something greater than you, of which you are a singular and beloved part. God is the forest, you are a tree: that's humility, a virtue. Not that hard to swallow. But we spend 99.9% of our days and nights acting on the belief that it's our movie: that we're the only tree. It's perhaps the defining human characteristic, and the one thing the Cylon won't never understand, and it works 99.9% of the time. But it's a mistake. That's why prayer happens on your knees.
A major difference between polytheism and monotheism, then, is about prayer: about the difference between making deals, and staying quiet. We pray to Aphrodite and Erzulie and Hera for love, or a husband, to Asclepius for healing. The revolution of monotheism lies in asking people to do something that makes no sense whatsoever, which is to set aside your own needs for five seconds and simply connect with the divine, without getting anything material out of the deal at all. "Use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
It's self-correcting, as any stable religious system must be. In polytheism, the mystery rites are when you put yourself under the hand of God, stop asking for shit, let things stop making sense. This is the price the Gods demand: that you will, often enough for your own soul's upkeep, lay down the burden of your selfishness -- and, more importantly, your tiny little viewpoint, the Cylon would say -- and let the Gods do their work on you as they see fit. We serve the Gods, feed their spirits in temple and altar and song, go into their caves and get high. Whatever it takes to let that light in, occasionally.
And on the other side of the salt, every monotheist service -- whether it's the Big Three or Mithraism or Batshit Baltarism -- is essentially a mystery rite of its own. Down on the knees, up and sing a song, down again for the sermon, then onto your knees. Quite a workout. Not something most of us have time for, but fairly universal.
Also universal: We blow up. Our sense of importance, of unique existence, inflates us. It makes us selfish and sick, or convinced of our rightness, or our victimhood. And then along comes something, God or illness or a hot blonde with a wicked right cross, and knocks us down again, and we feel terrible. Those six seeds start burning in our throats, and we find ourselves in hell. It feels like dying because it is: that's something getting burned off. But in that pain, there's knowledge, because for a split second we can turn around and look at the whole of ourselves, and see what's missing. That's the only kind of knowledge that connects you to anything real, but it's also just physics.