When we pray, is it appropriate that we ask for temporal, material things for ourselves and others? Considering our lethargic spiritual state, should we not instead be praying for forgiveness and grace, asking for God's Will to be done? I am wondering what we should request in prayer.
We learned from our church, through the Agpeya, Holy Psalmody, and Divine Liturgies, that prayer is composed of several components; each beginning with "The Lord's Prayer" followed by "The Thanksgiving Prayer". The formal definition of prayer includes humbly entreating, requesting, or making supplication to God. If you were to imagine that each time you prayed, our Lord would suddenly appear before you, what would you say, or ask? Most likely your prayer will not be superficial, and you will thank God, and kneel before Him, ask for His mercy and forgiveness, and ask Him to bless and heal your loved ones from spiritual and physical infirmities, etc.
In his epistle to the Philippians 4:6, St. Paul recommends confidence in prayer: "be anxious for nothing..." In other words, everything will be fine, do not worry, and ask God for what you want (without guilt). Because of your trust in God through prayer, He will grant you His peace, which is the real answer to any prayer and will exceed any material profit.
If you are diligent in your studies and efforts, God will help you when you pray humbly and contritely, assuming that there is no need to labor. St. Augustine who once lived in utter spiritual negligence and did not think he was in need of prayer, actually required intense bitterly tearful prayers from his saintly mother, Monica. The Lord saw her tears heard her prayers and answered them by transforming her son to a new man who would be renowned as a saint.
Let your heart be lifted in prayer throughout the day that you may find moments to draw near to God in reflection and contemplation of His presence around you. Indeed, each time you pray, God is there before you.