"I pray," in short, means: I request.
And one ought to remember that every request contains within it the expectations of a miracle and the assumption that a miracle can, in fact, occur.
When a man requests, "Master of the Universe, heal the sick of your people Israel," he requests something specific.
That is, he asks that something happen, a certain change in the world, be it large or small.
But, in essence, it is a request that something occur, and that something occur that would not have occurred had he not prayed.
True, I am putting this in the simplest manner, in the form that is understood and felt even by the smallest children, but it is also the case for adults who would put it in more sophisticated, precise, and elegant form.
There is no other way to understand all of the blessings and prayers, except as a request for a transnatural occurrence, within nature or above nature, but always involving a certain departure from ordinary laws.
That is to say, before one enters into discussion of the details of the external components of prayer, whether large or small, one must remember that prayer is not like any other act, or speech said before somebody, and therefore education for prayer is not simply education for a certain defined area of action or a specific mitzvah.
Education for prayer is of necessity far broader.
It is a necessary and essential part of a far more general way of education, of educational striving for faith.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "Prayer Education" in On Being Free by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz