My religious background and belief taught me that prayer is a way to move God into action. One has to pray hard and even fast in order to get God to do something on his or her behalf. I guess there is certain truth in this but the image behind this concept does not feel right as it does not fully reflect the loving God and Father that we serve. Seeing God sitting in his throne and waiting for us to beg and even suffer before he will do something for us does not look right. The idea that God will move according to the amount of effort we make does not seem to go together with grace.
Colossians 2:6 teaches us that we are to walk our Christian life in the same manner that we were saved. I became a born again Christian by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as a ransom for my sin. I did not become a Christian by begging Jesus to die on the cross for me but rather by accepting the fact that he already did save me through his death on the cross and receiving it in faith and in prayer. The same principal applies for prayer. I believe prayer is not asking God to give or to do something for us or on our behalf. Prayer is a way to get access to all that God has restored and purchased for us with the blood of Jesus Christ.
To take it further, we can read 1 Peter 2:24 and see that by His wound we have been healed (NIV). Not that we might or we will but have been healed. When Jesus commission the disciple he says, heal the sick, not pray for the sick. I guess we will start to see more healing taking place and faith raising as we understand that Jesus has healed us already and through prayer, release and receive that healing.
I believe God has restored what is ours through Jesus. When Jesus come into our lives, God deposits everything that we need in our spirit (like a bank deposit) and prayer is the way to get hold and get access (like a bank withdrawal) to it. Praying with this attitude has helped me to have more faith and grow in loving God. It has helped me to turn the focus out of my needs to the solution and to God himself.