When I think of communication with the Gods (or "Spirits", as we know them) it is less *telling* them to do something for us and more us *asking* for their power, guidance, and knowledge. Any Anishinaabe person approaching a Spirit and saying "Yo Spirit, find me a job" would be S.O.L. If you're asking for something you must remember you are ASKING for it. Many times we have a feast, but we always leave an offering when asking for help. And much like the "spells" of Witchcraft, if you don't put any physical effort behind it nothing is going to happen.
Spirits are helpful when respected, but do not suffer fools. I've been to a Shaking Tent, a powerful spiritual experience in which a medium is possessed by multiple spirits to bring you messages and answers from the Spirit World. One of the men there told me that at times people will ask the Spirits about selfish, petty things such as the winning lottery numbers. I recoiled in horror and asked if they ever got an answer and he said "no...and usually will get nothing else later, either." Meaning the Spirits shut off their communication from there-on.
The advice you get from the Spirits is not to be taken lightly. You don't ask for help and then not take the advice. I've done it, and it usually results in stagnation spiritually and lessened communication. If you're not going to listen, why should They keep talking?
So from my point of view the Spirits or Gods must be handled with a great deal of respect and the hierarchy must be acknowledged. I am not on par with them, they are not my "friends."
Well one need not be "God-fearing" as some sects of Christanity believe, it is more personal than that. Not ALL spirits are like that. Some are, though, and its important to figure out who you're speaking with. I have two Spirits in my life who follow me in my dreams. One I sense I need to treat with the utmost respect. She is an elder and a teacher. The other is much younger and more of a trickster. My relationship with them is totally different as is the way they treat me and the things they expect.
I guess I would more say that you need to know the Spirits as individuals but ultimately respect them. Like you say, they have more power than us and we have to recognize that regardless of their personalities. Which CAN make it difficult when you're visited by a particularly irritating spirit (I had a male ancestral spirit follow me around as a teen and MAN he was a pain in the a$$). Just didn't want you walking away thinking our relationship is always that impersonal!
When I was a dedicant, our HP & HPS told a cautionary tale of someone who decided to invoke Ares for some sort of working. I don't recall the specifics but he didn't get the results he wanted, Ares apparently having been a no show. So he copped an attitude and commanded Ares to manifest. That was his last recollection. He regained consciousness several hours later. LOL
This is what the ancient Greeks would call hubris and why witchcraft and magick are not included in Hellenic reconstructionism. It's also partly why there's an inclination among reconstructionist paths in general to distance themselves from being seen as part of the Neo-pagan community.
There are pros and cons to any practice, but definitely one of the negatives exhibited among Neo-pagans (among, not all) is a nearly total lack of emphasis on anything beyond personal want, including when it comes to interacting with the gods. There's a contradiction: the claim to be practicing "the old ways" even though a) their personal practice is often self-crafted and usually bears no resemblance to any established path, past or present and b) they don't concern themselves with learning anything about any of the actual, literal old ways. "My patron deity is...." yet it's not uncommon to find someone who has never read the related mythology or other classic literature or to crack open scholarly texts regarding the ancient worship of those deities. People who "use" deities commonly have little to no idea what is sacred to the god, his/her symbols, what offerings are pleasing, what are things they dislike. Personal gnosis, invention and interpretation supersedes all else.
No, the gods are not tools and one can only wonder what it is that those who act in this manner have actually connected with, assuming they've connected with anything at all.
We know that Appolo doesn't move the Sun across the sky and that Jesus didn't really come back from the dead.
Well, I disagree that belief in the gods doing the things of the gods is superstition as well.
Hopefully I can get five minutes in between phone calls to reply to the original message.
For me, most deities only exist tangentially in our lives the way we view our lives. Yet, as in the example above, we'd all be in a world of hurt if Apollo wasn't moving the sun across the sky. I don't honor or worship or focus on Apollo in my life, just as I don't have a personal relationship with all the humans in my life who make it possible for me to live. Because I don't have a direct relationship with him, I wouldn't go around asking him for favors. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with honoring him for a job well done every now and then, in the hopes he'll keep up the good work. If I honor him enough, I could certainly put in a request here and there, too.
On the other hand, just as there are humans in our life who provide benefit to our lives that we have relations close enough to ask for favors, building a close relationship with certain deities does mean we can call on them to ask for assistance, guidance, blessings, and so on.
Certainly in neither of these scenarios would a deity be plug-and-play, nor would that deity be a tool. They're their own entities. I respect those boundaries.