Toni made a comment to me yesterday that I kept thinking about on my evening run as it helped me bring together a number of random thoughts about prayer.
She said (paraphrase): Too often people mention a prayer need and they or others immediately begin praying for a specific outcome. We need to first ask God what He is doing and what He wants to do in this situation and then wait on Him to guide the content of our requests.
Amen! I've often thought that this is the key to Jesus' promise that He will answer all of our prayers. Obviously He wasn't promising to do anything we asked, no matter how selfish or absurd, no matter how foolish it looked to Omniscience. But He was saying SOMETHING profound.
I believe He was promising to guide the very content of our praying if we will let Him. When the Spirit prompts us in how to pray, we can be confident of the outcome.
This insight can revitalize your prayer life if it has become tired and wearisome.
Instead of praying every day, "God bless A and B and C and ..." as you go down your list of people who you care about with brief or cliche-ish requests; give each of those people some time, say once a week, where you pray, "Lord, what is going on in A's life this week and how do you want me to pray for him?" Think about the person while you wait on the Lord and then pray accordingly.
There is always the danger that the Lord may respond: "B needs encouragement and I want you to be the one (or one of the ones) to provide it. How about writing her a note or offering to..."
But then again: maybe your prayer life could use a little more danger?