Prayers of request strike me as woefully close to letters to Santa—“I’ve been good, now give me what I want.”
Prayers of praise always make me wonder if God doesn’t think of them as kissing up in an attempt to be made “favorite child.”
Prayers of gratitude make sense—most of us receive far more than we deserve.
But, if I were God, I would want to hear heartfelt communication from my children—favorite or otherwise. I would want to hear something like this lovely prayer by Catholic monk, Thomas Merton:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Merton isn’t asking or praising. Knowing his own inadequacies, he hopes and trusts that his searching, his desire to do right, somehow makes his life meaningful and fulfills his part in God’s plan.