I have long had a practice when I sit down and spend time with God to start off my prayer time with four different kinds of prayer, each making an adjustment in my heart that prepares me to be close to God.
The first is prayers of praise, where I take time to simply take time to praise God for how big, how perfect, how infinite and how good He is. These prayers help me to see how big and almighty God is and how small and broken I am.
The next kind of prayer is prayers of contrition, or my time to confess my sins to God. This is where I clean my heart out of all the stuff I've been carrying around that I know doesn't honor Him. Sometimes it is like a dam breaking and I pour out all my faults to Him as quickly as possible and repenting of them so that I can get them off my conscience. Other times, I really have to linger here and wrestle with issues that I know are wrong, but I am still inclined to do anyway. I have to wrestle with them until I can pull that desire or behavior into submission to God and really commit to not doing it again.
Third are prayers of thanksgiving. This resets our heart to a place where we view the world from a position of being blessed beyond what we deserve versus viewing the world from a place of discontent. I make it a point to thank God for very specific things and I really let the feeling of gratitude well up inside of me.
Lastly, I pray prayers of petition. This is the place where I ask for stuff. I find, because I've prayed the other types of prayer first and let God adjust my heart in those areas that I spend very little time asking for things. If I've taken the time to really meditate with the other three kinds of prayer, I find myself asking more for things that will bring God greater glory and that will help me and others walk closer with Jesus. There are times, too, where I simply ask God for selfish things, like "God, I could use a really big check in the mail right now", but I know without right motives, God is less likely to bless me in those ways.
Lately, though, I've seen where adding one other type of prayer into my prayer life has had great benefit. I'll call this type of prayer "claiming His promises". I've started praying things in my prayer time such as "God right now I claim your promise that if we ask it will be given to us, if we seek we will find and if we knock the door will be open to us" or "Lord, I claim your promise that the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective". I've started combing the scriptures looking for things that God promises us (the above two are from Matthew 7:7 and James 5:16). I don't know if it is the act of repeating back to God His own words and promises or reminding myself to have faith that God does indeed promise great things and He keeps His promises that makes this part of prayer so powerful for me. It has, though, lead me to praying for bigger, more miraculous things with greater faith and so far the results have been nothing short of awesome. Perhaps it is just another heart adjustment that enables me to get just that much closer to God during prayer time.
I praise God for all the awesome things He promises in the scriptures and for the ways He uses those promises to love us and care for us!