I am not satisfied with most prayer.
It seems self-serving, not God-serving.
It sometimes sounds whiny, like "This is what I want, God. Would you help me out and give it to me, please?"
Prayer can also sound like the person praying has too little faith to even know what, or more importantly, who to ask. Like "I am so overwhelmed, God. Please help me. Please bail me out. Don't let me suffer like this."
I know that God tells us to ask for things.
And I also know that He understands when we get in so deep we can't see the way out.
But when these prayers of rescue or favor-granting become our standard fare, when our daily prayers consist of fearful flailing and endless lists of I-wants, I am sure we are not in the place God wants us.
To confirm that, I look at John 17:
After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed...--John 17:1
He looked toward heaven, not toward His concerns on earth.
Glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify You.--John 17:2
He asked only for what would benefit His Father, not Himself.
I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.--John 17:9
Jesus confined His prayers to what His Father had already indicated as concerning Him.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.--John 17:21
He prayed for the success of the plan His Father put in motion through Him.
Jesus does not once here pray for His own concerns--His coming suffering, His earthly friends and family, or His own strength. He trusts God for all of these.
If I pray for a thing, then my goal is clearly the thing, not God.
If I pray for a relationship, I am more interested in the relationship than in God.
I cannot even pray for new motivations, or emotions, or will. Those are my part. God will not control me. I must control myself and dealing with my own will and emotion and motivation is how I do it. My obedience in emotional self-control is what I bring to the party.
And we wonder why our prayer is not answered.
God does not give His favors to relative strangers looking for a new toy.
Proper prayer, however, God always answers, and we find it in those rare moments when our will intersects with His own.