The Westminster Confession of Faith, a catechism of our church that we hold to, answers the question, “What is prayer?” --- “Prayer is offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgments of His mercies.”
We are to ask God to hear our desires and act on them. The psalms are full of examples of worshipers pouring out their hearts' desires to God. However, our desires can be sinfully disordered, as well as well-intentioned though mistaken. We may think a particular request will help us or others, if God were to grant it, only to later realize to our surprise and sorrow that we had been wrong. To guard against both our selfish motives and our shortsightedness we should ask God to fulfill our requests with answers “agreeable to His will”. I have learned to ask God for things that fulfill both my desires and His will and wisdom. It is natural to ask, how do I know what those things are? The answer is of course, I don't always know. I pray for those things as I can best envision them and with an open-mindedness and willingness for God to do something, even if it is different than I expect.
Do you ask for things that you are sure you should have? Have you ever thanked God for not allowing a particular prayer to be granted? We could all answer yes to these two questions. The key to prayer is to keep God's will in the forefront of our minds even when we don't know what God's will is for us. It's exciting to know that God sees what we need and want. Therefore, we need not be anxious for our requests, but as scripture tell us, we are to make our requests known to Him. I think of this as a way to express,"a cry for help", when I am in need. It then becomes God's great pleasure to govern all things good and just for my life even when I'm confused and in great need. Remember, His grace is sufficient! Philippians 4:6