One Way to Look at It: Prayer

From where I stand at the kitchen sink, I can see into the laundry room through a window.  It is a clear view to where we have set up a small table for arts and crafts for the kids.  They color, cut, and draw to their hearts’ content.  I can see their work and hear their conversation.  I basically know what they’re up to anytime they are in there while I work in the kitchen, even without them telling me about it.  
I have heard criticism of the practice of of listing out prayer requests to then pray about, likening it to a family conversation around the dinner table, where the children discuss amongst themselves what they will say to their parents, then turn to deliver the information to them, even though the parents were present through the entire conversation already.  There is no need in this situation to delineate which part of the discussion was intended for them; they got the whole thing.  So why discuss prayer requests and follow it with a prayer that repeats it all?  Can God not hear the entire time? 
I have heard the opposite, that any discussion of prayer needs and life struggles deserves the blessing of purposeful prayer, to distinguish the need and response beyond a basic conversation between two people. In this instance, it is not about being necessary, but about lifting the conversation to a different plane, not for the purposes of informing, but of offering.
But there’s something else that is easily forgotten.  It is not just about what we say or how we say it, or if we frame it with a beginning and end or not, or if we use formal language or not.  It is about to Whom we talk.
I watch my kids do their projects and create their masterpieces.  I neither need information from them, nor do I need them to demonstrate the importance of their efforts.  However, I love that they value me enough to want to show me.  At my simple request to tell me about it, they are off and running, describing their choice of form, color, image, material, folding, staple placement...they love telling me, and I love hearing it.  It’s neither necessary nor merely holy.  It’s relationship.  I show them how I value their contribution by listening, and they show me how they value my knowledge of them by opening up and sharing.  Whatever they have done is made more real by our sharing of it.
And God is our Father.  Prayer should not be limited to informing Him of our troubles and our suggested solutions to them, with the caveat that He choose otherwise if He sees fit.  Nor should it be limited to a verbal sprinkling of holy water to deem a life experience officially handed over.  These two approaches focus too narrowly on what exactly we do and how we do it.
Remembering why we do it can make a huge difference.  
It’s about conversation with Someone close to us, eager to hear what we have to say, uninterested in eloquence or efforts to impress. Just talk to Him, discuss life, questions, frustrations, exciting experiences...everything.  Will you choose to include your desires and requests?  Sure.  Will you hand over your daily life as an offering as you share it?  Absolutely.  Those are good parts of prayer.  Just remember that He wants to hear about what you are drawing and what it means to you, too.  And as a good conversation with a close friend can result in us gaining clearer insight and understanding into our own experiences, so can a good, personal conversation with God help focus our vision and align our hearts more with His.