There is normal ritual prayer, which is good in its own way. If it is not too mechanical, it can help you get an idea of your own self. God already knows your needs but this kind of prayer, if sincere, commits you in the eyes of God to certain directions. If you are sincere, you will yourself notice that at any given point, prayers for some things are coming out from a greater depth. It is best to leave the things which are not coming from this depth. Leave such things totally to God. Sincere prayer can be understood to be the Will of God. Mechanical prayer is often your greed, or perhaps, habit. It is said that one should pray for even tiny needs but it has also been said one should be patient, that one should be not greedy, one should work etc. Taken together, pray at this mechanical level only when you absolutely must.
Then there is deep prayer. This is sincere prayer taken to its extreme. One can neither decide the time nor what the prayer will be. It comes of its own and does its work. It is almost always for some other, perhaps even for someone generally perceived as being against you. Insofar as deep prayer can be for yourself it is only to the extent that the prayer would help others. In short, the ego can gain absolutely nothing from deep prayer as it is not of the ego
There is the story of the man praying for help in a storm, and ignoring obvious means of help, a boat, a helicopter etc, thinking God would help. He dies and finds out he was supposed to have taken the help because the various means were from God. Well, that is not the nature of sincere prayer. The more sincere the prayer, the more it opens you up to its possible fulfillment through any morally correct means.
Prayer is there to join heaven and earth. In a sincere enough prayer you instinctively respond correctly to the signs or the help. If you do not so respond, it means you did not have enough heart in the prayer. The greater the task, the deeper the prayer has to be. All or as much of you as possible has to be behind such prayer
There is confidence and there is prayer. An inconfident person can find confidence in a task after having prayed deeply for it. It will seem to the person that everything is simply flowing gracefully. One can only sincerely pray for something which one believes is at least a distant possibility. That is why despairing is considered in such a negative light.
The confidence brought on by prayer cannot lead to arrogance in the particular thing one has prayed for. Additionally it is impossible to sincerely pray out of greed, jealousy, desire. Such prayers hardly touch the surface of ones heart.
As long as you rely on yourself you absolutely cannot go deep within into the sacred for prayer. You must become humble at least in that moment. It is strange that such humility should give rise to confidence and without the slightest trace of smugness
The deeper the prayer the greater the part of your mind is in harmony on that intention. The deeper this intention the more likely your prayer will be answered in either subtle ordinary ways, in things happening by seeming chance or in truly mysterious ways. Atheists may accept that deep intentions can lead to extra-ordinary success but they will claim this only happens because of one’s obvious committment. True, but they will either never see or explain away the vivid, mysterious coincidences that take place outside when one goes deep inside. The co-incidences are noticed inside and considered private miracles.