Sometimes I am afraid that we make too much of prayer. By this I mean that we worry about what to say and how to say. We think too much about how long we should pray, or where we should pray. We think about the language we use in prayer and worry about what other people will think of us as we pray. We do not want anyone to think that we are weird, unusual or out of touch with the real world.
But then we also worry about what God might think about us. Does our prayer meet his expectations? Have we met all of the biblical criteria for prayer? Would our prayers be considered effectual and fervent? (James 5.16) And who do I think I am anyway? What right do I have to talk to the Creator of the universe, the Lord of all that is?
I have one word of suggestion and then another that leans toward a teaching. First of all, stop thinking so much about praying and start praying. You can study prayer for eternity. There are literally thousands of books in the English language on prayer. You can learn a lot about prayer from these books. You can listen to sermon and you can go to seminars. But you will never truly learn to pray until you pray. You will not fulfill God's plan for your prayer life until you pray. So what are you waiting for? Pray!
Secondly, use the Bible as a pattern for your prayers. It is God's Word, after all. There are many passages in the Scripture that you can use as a pattern for prayer. You can customize these prayers to fit your own needs, but I believe that nothing will please God more than for you to pray his word back to him.
There are many passages in the Bible that work well at this point, but some of the simpler ones include many of the Psalms (they are songs that we were used as prayers) and
Do not get too concerned about this prospect. Let me demonstrate how praying the Bible can work. The following is from Ephesians 3.16-21. I would suggest that you pray this prayer each day for the next week. I have left a blank for you to insert the name of a friend or family member that you will be praying for. The text of the passage itself has been changed very little. Good luck and good praying.
PRAYER: I pray that God would grant ___________, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in __________ heart through faith; that ________, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that __________ may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.