First I prayed mostly for myself—for God to give me things, ie., new job or career. Then I prayed for others, usually people I knew. This list got too numerous and my prayers too long-winded, so then I made general prayers for world peace. Then I prayed for my enemies (Luke 6:27-28) because Jesus said that’s where the glory lies. I noticed doing that made it easier for me to forgive them for their transgressions against me.
Then I exchanged my self indulgent laundry list for generalized prayers for strength to deal with all things negative as well as an appreciation for all things good. I would also pray for strength to stop sinning so much and even pray to be closer to God.
Then I re-read Matthew and kept my prayer simple and short (The Lord’s Prayer—see Matthew 6:9-13) because God already knows what I need. And I concentrated on forgiving others who wronged me so that God would in turn forgive me my residual bad behavior. To this day I feel this is an important conditional contract that many people unfortunately downplay. See Matthew ,15 and -35.
Still I evolved. I came to realize that receiving God’s strength comes from being close to God. And closeness comes from immersing oneself in The Word of God, from fellowship with like-minded believers, from eliminating idols from our lives, and talking about God with others (evangelizing). An ongoing conversation with God (in lieu of and/or in addition to kneeled prayer) throughout my daily life also helps me in my continued walk with Christ by keeping God close through an unbroken line of communication. Memorizing relevant Bible verses also helps by keeping the message on the tip of my brain for quick recall should I find myself surrounded by temptation. I have several favorites: Isaiah 40:31, 41:10; Romans 12:2, etc…
So with all this I put on the armor of God (Ephesians -20) and enter the fallen world a stronger man, ready for most of the coming onslaught. And in resisting temptation I set an example for others so they will see God's Grace in me and the Glory of the Spirit of the Lord. And through my example they will seek what I have found and start their own spiritual journey.
By no means has my journey been completed, but I am confident it will continue, as I am sure I've gone well beyond the point of no return.