Even people who do not really believe in God sometimes resort to prayer. This usually happens in a situation where a person has nothing to hope for. But even sincerely believing people sometimes do not know how to pray, with what words they should address God.
Prayer is a person's conversation with God. The conversation is very personal, so it is better to pray alone when no one sees you. This does not exclude prayer in other places, you can pray (silently, in your mind) even on public transport or walking along a crowded street. However, the most intimate prayer requires silence and solitude.
It is good if you have an icon, but this is not a prerequisite. The conversation between man and God goes through the heart, so there is nothing that could interfere with this communication - as well as that which could significantly help. When praying in front of the icon, remember that you are not praying to her, but to the one whose image is captured on it.
It is best to choose a late evening for the beginning of prayer. You are alone in the room, the lights are dim. You can turn it off and light a candle. Remember the main point: in a conversation with God, it is not words that are important, but feelings. God understands you without words, so don't give them too much importance. Just tell Him what is bothering you.
Is it worth reading well-known prayers or is it better to use your own words? There is no single answer, both options can be used. The main thing is that your prayer is not mechanical - try to feel every word, understand it, and comprehend it.
Be sincere in your conversation with God. No falsity is permissible, because God already knows everything about you. Do not seek to artificially arouse in yourself any exalted prayer feelings, this is wrong. If you feel that your prayer is dry and empty, ask God to help you learn how to pray, this is the best option.
Don't chase verbosity. The simplest words spoken with a heartfelt feeling will bring you closer to God more than the longest, but mechanically read prayer. Try to stand before God more often in complete inner silence, these are the most valuable moments - many people cannot feel His presence precisely because of their own verbosity. It is no accident that on the path of man's prayerful ascent to the highest God is silent prayer - when a man silently stands before Him with all his being.
How should you pray, aloud or silently? Both are appropriate. If you feel the need to turn to God out loud, do so. If you want to pray to yourself, so be it. It should be noted that the monks who practice the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner (sinner),” first repeat it aloud, later to themselves. But even at the highest stages of prayer, they do not consider it shameful to pray aloud. So just listen to yourself and pray the way you like best.
Where is the best place to pray, inside or outside the church? And here, too, there is no single answer. The Church helps a person with its very atmosphere, the prayerfulness of the place. At the same time, many people in the church are shy, they feel it is impossible for themselves to openly show feelings in the presence of other believers. In this case, the most sincere prayer will be performed alone.
How do you know that your prayer has been answered? When talking with God, a person usually tries to tell Him about his troubles and sorrows. At the same time, it can be very hard on the soul. However, at some point, the praying person suddenly experiences an amazing feeling - it becomes much easier for him, as if a stone falls from his soul. A person can feel peace, joy, an understanding arises that he has been heard.
It is far from immediately possible to attain some high states in prayer. Moreover, the very pursuit of unusual sensations is a big mistake.There are many pitfalls on the path of prayer; they fall into those who could not get rid of pride, in whom there is no humility. To understand possible mistakes, one should read the books of the holy fathers. For example, “Ascetic Experiments” by Ignatiy Brianchaninov, “My Life in Christ” by John of Kronstadt, “Ascetic Words” by Isaac the Syrian.