Prayer is both central and essential to our relationship with God. Corporate prayer is a crucial element in our participation in the Church, sometimes described as the Body of Christ. However, it is also an intensely personal thing. Prayer is always something that we can take deeper and, though prayer is best understood and taken to deeper levels by engaging in it, it is also true that we can learn from what others say of it. Such learning will most commonly come from "spiritual" writers, but it is also interesting (and often of benefit) to look at the understanding and description of other writers.
I have been reading Eleanor Catton's Man Booker prize-winning novel "The Luminaries" and was struck by a passage in which she talks of prayer, first describing it as remembering others - and surely much of prayer is remembering others before God - and secondly identifying hope as a key element in prayer - and, as people of the resurrection, we clearly live by hope.
“Prayers often begin as memories. When we remember those whom we have loved, and miss them, naturally we hope for their safety and their happiness, wherever they might be. That hope turns into a wish, and whenever a wish is voiced, even silently, even without words, it becomes a supplication. Perhaps we don’t know to whom we’re speaking; perhaps we ask before we truly know who’s listening, or before we even believe that listener exists. But I judge it a very fine beginning, to make a practice of remembering those people we have loved. When we remember others fondly, we wish them health and happiness and all good things. These are the prayers of a Christian man. “