Seems like an unlikely composition for a writer of a spiritual blog but it came to mind. I was once a beggar when praying would ask continually for the same thing. It seemed like it was necessary to convince myself if I was persistent enough God would hear me. It took many years to realize this sort of prayer was simply not effective. It was something that was probably picked up in a prayer meeting in my youth. How many times do you have to knock for the door to be opened, how many times do you have to ask? How hard do you have to seek to find an answer? The answer to all these questions is simply once. One time in truth - for if you are trying to convince God it is irrational.
First be truthful with yourself if you are holding back it seems all that begging is just trying to fool yourself because you know we cannot fool God. Before you even start asking make an honest appointment with your own mind find out why you are asking , is this really the desire of your heart. Are you just praying out loud to impress others in the room or are you sincere. I was recently at a bedside when a priest was looking for a prayer for the sick in his little black book, like it was some sort of incantation that needed to be recited. It actually took a few minutes for the priest to find it and it seemed like some in the room already had it memorized. Was that a moment of truth or speaking of the desires from the heart. God bless the priest for taking on the task and reading the book. Another priest came a few days later , he brought no book was actually in his casual wear just coming from the beach. He prayed from his heart for everyone in the room and we were in union with the spirit of God.
Prayer must be consistent with our true desires and our desires will be aligned with God's answer when they are sincere. We only need ask once , we are not beggars but God's vessel or instrument of love and compassion. How can one be sure their prayer will be answered unless we ourselves are convinced? That is just the point we do not need to convince ourselves the request is valid, that being the desires of a truthful heart will be heard. Imagine your own children coming to you and saying they need something when in fact you know they are just asking out of want because someone else wanted it. You must speak from your own heart not copy someone else- perhaps two hearts can conjoin in prayer but even then it must be sincere.
Repetitive prayer is equivalent to begging and is not scriptural. The first things I asked for when becoming a christian were to be free of personal habits of smoking and drinking. It seemed like a noble request but was not easy these desires had to be replaced with others. My heart had to change and my desires followed. Eventually a long time habit of smoking , since childhood was kicked. Not only did I benefit financially but physically and spiritually. That was a win situation were my desires were actually removed , the same eventually happened with other things in my personal life which to all of us may be different. All of these were controlling desires but we also need at times to put a desire there. Some say it is a burden they receive for others , it is not really a burden but a desire or compassion out of love to act on. As you receive freely, also give freely.
When are we a thief ? When we are stealing from God. Did I ever steal from God, of course we all did without realizing it at one time or another. We steal time by not honoring God during our day , we still glory by not giving God the praise for things provided. We steal not materially but spiritually when we ask in vain. Remember a quote from John F. Kennedy - ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. It sounded pretty patriotic , that we would serve our country even more so serving God is important. This may seem awkward for some but as time goes on you will be guided by the Holy Spirit and your prayer life will align with God and not act out of vanity.
So why align ourselves with God to only do what God wants. What about my needs or desires? God promises to fill the desires of our hearts. What does God need? Is there a payback system, not really. We cannot bargain with God , there is nothing you can promise - actually you will discover that God makes all the promises. You are better off not making promises because eventually they will be broken or forgotten- just do the best you can. God only wants to fill the desires of a truthful heart. We need again to do that heart check thing and be truthful.
Matthew 6:5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
John 4:23-24 "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seek such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
I often will recite the Lord prayer and it is probably the only prayer that verbatim fits most situations but otherwise will pray from the heart and often in silence. But that is up to you , it is the desires of your heart, that which is between you and God that are important. One last thing we live by grace and do not deserve it , it is a gift. The bible does say the prayers of the righteous availeth much but none are truly righteous in Corinthians the apostle admits he is a sinner asks for forgiveness first, then after aligning his heart makes a request.
-peace and love.