I come from a Christian up-bring, as a result I was so used to praying outside of a lararium or an altar that it continues in my polytheistic practices. For me the gods I have been worshiping respond well to prayer even outside of some sort of offering. Is this ok? Might I be disrespecting the gods? should we as polytheists pray? Should communion with the gods only be done in ritual? Do the gods speak to us? Do the gods care about our faith/what we believe?
For me the gods I have been worshiping respond well to prayer even outside of some sort of offering. Is this ok?
If it works, then it works. That’s ultimately what matters–if the gods are responding, then it’s probably okay. If They were disrespected, you probably wouldn’t be experiencing any results.
This isn’t to say that what you’re doing "isn’t RR", of course. The Romans certainly could make do with what they had on hand– even if it was nothing. A prayer could be heard, and responded to, though the expectation is that you’d make a thank-offering later.
Do the gods speak to us? Do the gods care about our faith/what we believe?
That’s something you have to decide for yourself. What you’re asking about here are matters of faith. Like most polytheistic religions of antiquity and their modern revivals, Roman Religion is demarcated by its ritual methods. Things pertaining to beliefs are, by design, highly subjective.
Now, in my opinion, I do believe that the gods do speak to us, in various ways. I don’t think they gods necessarily are concerned about our beliefs, though; I do think tht They take notice at our actions, particularly if our actions honor and respect Them if that’s what we’ve set out to do.
The Sacra Privata is entirely that: private, no rules how you at your home pray to the Gods. I find in our modern era the personal dedication of the greatest importance. Living a life that is pleasing to the Gods, a life of virtue and piety, but also being attentive of the Gods in regular prayer. When you are a Single Practitioner, you will have little opportunity to always make full fledged rituals. I often do just a small symbolic offering in form of burning some incencse.