Ps 34:4, 6, 15, 17: I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles…. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry…. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Ps 3:4: I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.
There are many more verses, but these three passages give you a flavor of the power of prayer, the most awesome tool, weapon, resource, and sustenance that we have. When we cry out to God, we have a direct line to the throne room of the Creator, to Jesus, and to Their Holy Spirit. So, God (the Trinity) hears us if our hearts are right, so long as we are not crying out with a foolish, prideful, or completely selfish and self-indulgent prayer, such as in the satirical Janis Joplin song “Mercedes Benz” where she asks God for a Mercedes-Benz and other things, tongue-in-cheek. Of course, God has the capability of hearing every word that we utter, but He will probably not respond if our hearts are not humble or if we are fully committed to our wickedness with no desire to turn away from our sin. But even in our worst state, if we ever reach a moment of epiphany realizing that we are on the wrong path and desiring to get back on the right path, all we have to do is cry out to Him at that point, and He will hear, respond, and get us back on the right path. He is always concerned about the distress calls of His children, especially if they are also His spiritual children through the rebirth that comes with trusting in His Son Jesus and the Covenant we enter into with God at that moment of salvation. God responds especially strongly to our tearful cries for help because, in His Infinitely Loving Heart, God is moved with compassion and hates the suffering of His children.
But what is the proper way to approach Him when we want to communicate with Him? The answer is that there is no “proper” way, so long as our hearts are humble and our minds clear. Some like to be kneeling with hands clasped. Some like to sit in a chair, in a quiet spot where others won’t bother them. Others, like myself, like to be walking through the woods, eyes open, and talking to God, either in my mind or even out loud if there is no one around, as if He were a “friend with skin” walking right beside me. I've talked to Him in a state of inebriation. I’ve talked to him using the internal voice of my mind, sometimes when I am in a crowded room, sometimes when I am driving, and sometimes even when I am having a conversation with someone if I need God’s help in dealing with that person or if that person has a need that is being communicated to me in our conversation. There are so many ways to approach God. We can be as formal or informal as we like. God does not mind. He just wants us to be speaking with Him and having fellowship with Him on a very regular basis rather than living our lives like a “lone wolf” avoiding Him. Like any loving father, He wants to spend time with us, to enjoy us, to enjoy our company, and He wants for us to enjoy Him, to enjoy His company.
So what words do we use? The answer is: whatever pops into our minds. There are no special words. You can pray using scripture as a starting point or you can just pray whatever seems right to you at the time in whatever words that seem right. God is not waiting there with a big red pen to mark on and correct our grammar. He is listening to our hearts as well as our words to discern what we really mean, and when we can’t formulate the words just right, He knows what we mean. Additionally, there is no requirement for formality unless that makes us feel better about the interaction with God. He doesn’t require it. We don’t even have to be speaking directly to Him. Part of prayer is just meditating on Him (Who He Is), meditating on His Word and His Ways, thinking about how these principles apply to our daily lives and thinking about strategies for applying the principles to various situations in our lives, etc.
So what do we pray about? Anything that is of concern to us. We can lay our burdens at His feet and ask Him to change the situation, to change us, or to give us wisdom, power, courage, etc., to deal with the situation. Or we can thank Him for the various blessings in our lives. Or we can ask Him for the deepest "desires of your heart," things that we have always wanted or wanted to be, fulfillment of our dreams, the good life or abundant life. Or we can simply praise Him, recognizing all the great things He has done and recognizing how awesome, wonderful, generous, loving, righteous, etc. He is. Or we can lift up the concerns of others that we care about. There is no end of the possible topics that we can bring up with God.
So what are the benefits of prayer? First, each time that we reach out to God, that gives Him an opportunity to build a little more of His Spirit into us as He works on our character, trying to make us more like Him and more capable of acting like Him, living for Him, and serving other people. And as He builds His Spirit up in us over the years, we become more loving, more at peace, more joyful, more useful to others. Second, it gives Him an opportunity to teach us as His words and thoughts intertwine with our words in a most mysterious process that I still don’t completely understand. Third, it gives us an opportunity to lay our burdens at His feet, asking His guidance on what to do, asking for His power to do what we need to do, asking Him to change us into what we need to be for Him and all those around us. Fourth, it gives us an opportunity to intercede on behalf of those that we come into contact with in our daily lives or those that cross our path somehow, whether in traffic or shopping at the local store or having fun at the local park, etc.
I’m sure I’ve probably left something out, but all the discussions above hit on the major topics of interest and should help you better understand this marvelous thing called prayer, our direct line to God Himself. He loves us with an all-consuming love and greatly desires our fellowship with Him as we build an intimate relationship with Him. Moreover, he greatly desires to help us in our lives, but we must come to Him and spend that daily time with Him to unlock the blessings in our lives, to build our character to be more like Him, and to break down the Satanic strongholds in our lives and the lives of those around us.
I pray that you will be drawn to Him to spend time with Him daily. And I pray that you will feel joy about this time you spend with God, that you would desire it greatly, and that you would not see it as a burden or a chore. It is there for your benefit.