Certainly, prayer is very important for the Christian, the follower of Jesus. While the Bible says we should make our requests known to God, I think the more important part of prayer is listening.
John 5:19 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’”
In John 12:49, Jesus says, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”
Jesus did what he saw the Father doing and said what he heard the Father saying. I believe this is why he got alone to pray so much – to hear and see clearly. So, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus said to hallow the name of the Father and then said “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s kingdom comes by our hearing and seeing what he is doing, through prayer, and then obeying his will on earth and just as it is obeyed in heaven. (Interestingly, it was after listening to God, asking for his kingdom and will to be done, that Jesus said to ask for your needs – probably because your needs would be in the proper perspective then.)
The emphasis on hearing the word of the Lord is throughout scripture. It has been particularly prevalent in reading Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 29:18-20 says, “‘I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’ Hear the word of the Lord…”
Over and over, Jeremiah, and the rest of the Bible, says to hear God, listen to his prophets, hear the word that he is speaking through them. Repeatedly we are told to listen to God. And, as in the verse above, it’s the failure to listen that causes our problems. I can’t recall a time where God says if we don’t speak to him we will have problems and that it’s because we didn’t speak to him and tell him all our problems that he is bringing some sort of chastisement or judgment on us.
So, it seems the emphasis in prayer should be listening. Indeed, when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, God said, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well please. Listen to Him!”