Prayer causes us to reflect upon ourselves, upon our behavior and attitudes. Even while speaking to G‑d, we are actually addressing ourselves. Even while seeking the betterment of our material status (the aim of certain prayers), it accomplishes the betterment of our spiritual status.

Prayer inspires the ideal of imitatio Dei, of emulating the ways and attributes of G‑d: as He is compassionate and merciful (i. e., as we perceive Him, and as we expect Him to express Himself towards us with His attributes of compassion and mercy), so you be compassionate and merciful. This is the effect of prayer.

"What the refining pot does for silver, and what the furnace does for gold, prayer does for man" (Proverbs 27:21).

Silver or gold mixed with base metals, when thrown into an adequately heated refining pot will become separated from the dross. The precious elements will emerge independently.

Repeatedly subjecting the same silver or gold to this process of refinement results in ever greater purity for the precious elements, with an ever more complete detachment and removal of base particles.

Though some of those particles were so minute that their presence was hidden and not detectable by the naked eye, the heat of the fire detaches and eliminates them, leaving the silver and gold in a state of purity. It is likewise with prayer.

The animal soul and the Divine component in man are in a state of mixture. Good and evil are intermingled. The flames of fire of prayer, however, expose the different components, even the most minute, and separate the precious and wholesome elements from the base and deleterious ones. The beneficial elements are purified and absorbed, while the worthless residuum is discarded and eliminated.