Leanne Payne is one of my favorite authors, and I was recently reading her book Listening Prayer. She said something really wonderful about prayer of petition. Of course it means placing our petitions before God, but she suggested something else as part of it: to receive God's answer. She recommends doing this by simply picturing in our imagination the thing we've asked for, and then placing that image before God in prayer and letting him speak to us about it. Very often, the picture will change to bring it more in accord with God's will. This listening to God in prayer will help us receive in our lives what God wants to do.
There's so much wisdom in that. It's easy to think that when I ask for something, God should give it to me exactly as I asked for it. If it doesn't happen, I can think my prayer wasn't answered. But if I wasn't asking according to God's will, God will answer it in a different way. By using the imagination to picture the desired result, and then let God shape it, we can find that our desires will be more in line with what God wants.
I tried this with a couple petitions I was praying for, and I was amazed at how well it worked. I found that God showed me what I should really be asking for. Holding the picture in our imagination also taps into the psychological reality that we tend to strive toward goals we can picture.