Traditionally, prayer has been subdivided into petition, thanksgiving, confession, and adoration. The wise and balanced prayer life would include all four, in whatever measure or style suits the person.
One way to think about them is to relate each back to our basic account of praying. Petition raises the question of whether or not our prayers are answered. We believe we are heard, and yet all things lie in God’s hands, where all ultimately works for good. So our petitions are offered in Christ’s one great intercession at the right hand of the Father, and are surrendered thereto. Adoration brings us back to the heart of the matter, acknowledging, enjoying, and celebrating that God is God. Thanksgiving recalls the first quality of Christian living, response to grace as a ‘sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.’ (BCP). Personal thanksgiving dovetails with our central corporate act, the Eucharist. Finally contrition reminds us that we do none of this on our own. For Bernard of Clairvaux ‘spirituality’ is effectively synonymous with contrition.
When do you engage in each? Which gets shortchanged?