When Peter was about to sink beneath the violent waves of old Galilee, he cried out, "Lord, save me." (Matthew 14:30) We could learn a lot from Peter's plea.
Peter's prayer was brief and to the point. "Lord, save me." Only three words. Some people believe they will be heard because of much speaking, and for a pretense make long prayers. Yet, the model prayer can be recited in about thirty seconds. Jesus's prayer in John 17 can be read in about four minutes. Solomon's prayer of dedication of the temple in I Kings 8 can be read in six minutes, and is probably the longest prayer recorded in the Bible. This is not to say long prayer is never desirable. On one occasion Jesus asked his disciples, "Could ye not pray with me one hour?" But the length itself does not tune a prayer to God's ears.
Peter's prayer was directed to The One who could help. "Lord." LORD, save me. He didn't cry out "Lord, save me" in hopes that James and John would throw him a life preserver. Some who don't really believe in God nevertheless speak highly of prayer, whether hypocritically or ignorantly. But prayer for prayer's sake is of no benefit. Prayer is "to God". He that cometh to God must believe that He is.
Peter's prayer was urgent. "He cried." With the hymn writer, we and Peter might agree, "Do not turn away thy face, Mine's an URGENT pressing case!" All formality was left off and Peter got right to what he wanted. When prayers are urgent, we pray right where we are. It's good and right to come to the house of prayer, and to meet God in our prayer "closets". But if we ought to pray without ceasing, pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and so forth, then any place we ought to be ought to be a place of prayer. "Where’er they seek Thee Thou art found, And every place is hallowed ground."
Peter's prayer was personal. "Lord, save ME." We should pray for others. Give US this day OUR daily bread, etc. But sometimes we perhaps think we are pious by asking for others and not ourselves. But our personal prayers for our personal needs actually acknowledge our dependence on God. Lord, save me, I can't save myself! ("Every prayer is an acknowledgement of our weakness and dependence . Who would ask that of another which he thinketh to be in his own power?" -- Thomas Manton)
Peter's prayer was answered. "...immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. No doubt it was fervent. "Near-death" experiences create fervency. But all our prayers should be fervent. If any man ask anything according to His will God hears. Peter's need was heard. He was saved.
This is not to say that we should apply this all as some kind of cold formula for answered prayer. We Americans like our "12-steps", methods and formulas. But, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (And be thankful the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities in prayer.)
Jesu, my Savior, Brother, Friend,
On Whom I cast my every care,
On Whom for all things I depend,
Inspire, and then accept, my prayer.