I like what I heard Adrian Rogers preach once, concerning people who only wanted to bring the "big" problems in life to God in prayer. He put it this way, as best as I can recall, "Take the biggest problem you have. Now put it in God's hands. It's ALL small to Him." Amen!
Along with this idea, I've begun to realize that prayer is not simply the process of forming the right words in our brains and shooting them heavenwards, occasionally tweaking our methods to enhance our results. Yes, such should be obvious, I know, but for some reason it wasn't (spiritual ignorance is often like that). My brain is currently focused on the idea that prayer should not be some impersonal spiritual activity like it all too often is in my personal walk, in the spiritual pattern of the habitual monologue like I've so often thought of it. Prayer like this is a tiresome chore of an activity to produce, and though I cannot know the mind of God thoroughly, I do not believe such can be reverent or pleasing in the Divine Ear.
That brings me to another point. I thought: I do not want to insult the intelligence of God with my prayers. I should put all of my reverence and intellect into such an activity, with holy passion and humility, and plead for the grace I so desperately need and could never earn. So far, so good. But do you see the flaw in my thinking? That is, can any of my prayers be of worth to God intellectually (or otherwise)? It humbles me to think that I pray to a Divine, Infinite, Omniscient intelligence who knows all the stars by name, yet still hears my prayers with all my petty frustrations, silly ignorance, foolish hopes, and immature dreams. How can I ever hope to pray a worthy prayer, any more than a grasshopper's mental capacity could impress Einstein, except perhaps by the humbleness of its lowly state? My only hope to be heard and answered must lie solely in Christ, depending solely on His grace and His wisdom as my intercessor, to communicate to the Father according to His will. And that is indeed my hope.
I am still learning precisely what this activity called prayer is all about. An appropriate question arises: if I believe God is sovereign, why pray? But if I believe God is sovereign, why not pray? Who better to ask requests of and place hope in than a fully sovereign God, who has all things under His control and brings all things together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)? If God is Sovereign, Gracious, Merciful, Long-suffering, Salvation, and my only Hope, I hope to pray to Him and that He would teach me to faithfully trust Him more.
But also, I do not believe that prayer changes the mind of God, or alters His plans. If I have a holy desire, and pray, if it is truly holy in nature, how is that different from being God's ultimate will, which is inherently holy and good? And how did such a desire arise in my heart? If it is holy and good, would not the Holy Spirit have placed such there? Did I ever invent a holy or good thought on my own? I cannot see that I ever did, because fundamentally I was unholy, fallen in Adam and dead in trespasses and sins, but in Christ I have been born again, given a new circumcised heart and a new nature. It must all be of God and therefore of grace, or it would be of works. So if salvation itself is all of God's grace, does it not follow that every righteousness in my life also comes from Him? And further, because there is only one God, who is absolutely Holy and Good, does it not follow that all righteousness is ultimately from Him, that He is the author and defender of it? It truly should be a joy to pray to God: when done righteously, I believe it is no less than praying God's righteous and holy desires back to Him through Christ our Lord and Savior. And knowing that if we are praying the will of God, that His will is certainly done. My hope and prayer that I will begin praying for is that God would place His holy and righteous desires in me that such would form the foundation of all my prayers, and that all my prayer would be both Christ-centered and Christ-glorifying.
P.S. OK. I'm sorry, but occasionally I try very hard to be and sound "spiritual" and I think it's showing here. Well, I really need to apologize to God for it. Currently, I'm very frustrated with my life and spiritual walk in some things, but I am learning to surrender to Christ, pray about it, trust Him for the answers, and most of all wait---as patiently as I possibly can (which is almost impossible for me, and contrary to my basic nature)---and then things work out differently than I expected if they do at all. I suppose what I am learning and need to learn most is humility and trust in prayer. Again, that's extremely hard for me, as I seem to have the idea that I need to first try it on my own, and then if (but really, "when") I have problems, pray to God for help. No surprise to the reader, but I trip and fall on my face a lot with that approach. You'd really think I'd learn faster.
P.P.S. OK, more than occasionally.