It is, therefore, by the benefit of prayer that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father. For there is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, they appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not vain, although he had promised it in word alone. Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers.John Calvin, Institutes, 3.20.2
First, that our hearts may be inflamed with continual fear, honor, and love of God, to whom we run for support and help whensoever danger or necessity requires; that we so learning to [make known] our desires in His presence, He may teach us what is to be desired, and what not.
Second, that we, knowing our petitions to be granted by God alone (to Him only we must render and give laud and praise), and that we, ever having His infinite goodness fixed in our minds, may constantly abide to receive that which with fervent prayer we desire.John Knox, “A Treatise on Prayer,” in Select Writings, 75.
All our prayers should carry a correspondence with our great aim. What is our great aim? To be with God in heaven, as remembering that is the centre and place of our rest, to which we are all tending: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). We come to our Father which is in heaven. He will have his residence there, that our hearts might be there. Therefore the main things we should seek of God from heaven are saving graces, for these “come down from above, from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). We have liberty to ask supplies for the outward life, but chiefly we should ask spiritual and heavenly things: “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:22, 23). What then? “First seek the kingom of God,” etc. If we have to do with a heavenly Father, our first and main care should be to ask things suitable to his being, and his excellency. If children should ask of their parents such a thing as is pleasing to their palate, possibly they might give it them; but when they ask instruction, and desire to be taught, that is far more acceptable to them. When we ask supplies of the outward life, food, raiment, God may give it us; but it is more pleasing to him when we ask for grace. In every prayer we should seek to be made more heavenly by conversing with our heavenly Father.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 1:61–62.
The humble soul knows that God out of Christ is incommunicable, that God out of Christ is incomprehensible, that God out of Christ is very terrible, and that God out of Christ is inaccessible; and, therefore, he always brings Christ with him, presents all his requests in his name, and so prevails.Thomas Brooks, Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks, 145