Jesus addresses two of the great problems we encounter in prayer, being hypocritical and being superstitious, and then gives the antidote to it. After that He gives us a pattern for prayer, and we must avoid taking this pattern and using it in a hypocritical or superstitious way.
Be sincere – don’t be like the others who just want to be seen as holy, you can pray in public but don’t try to be a great performer.
Be secret – make sure you get alone with God, how you pray in private is what you really are, and then if you pray in public it will be real, and powerful, not just a show.
Be succinct – don’t think that having all the right magic words and flowing phrases are what matters, it is not length or loudness that counts. It is okay to use big words and to be fervent, but don’t just keep repeating yourself and getting louder as if this is what God is looking for.
Be sure – we should petition God persistently, but with an understanding of who He is, not as if we must inform Him of who we are, we pray with persistence while relying on Providence.
Thank Him for what you have before you ask Him for what you need – He already knows what you need (Matthew 6:8, 32), but tell Him how much you appreciate what He’s already done.
Tell Him what you have done wrong before you ask Him to make it right – God already knows what you have done wrong. Realizing we are open to God helps us to live a more holy life.
Praise Him for who He is no matter what He does – Prayer recognizes who God is. We cannot glorify God in the world until we have first glorified Him in our hearts.
Forgiven people become forgiving people – Holding something against someone right now or just being a generally unforgiving person, this is what causes us to be hypocritical. Yet it would be superstitious to think we need to search out all of our past unforgiveness or God won’t answer our prayers. That would go against what we know about God’s forgiveness. We should not be hypocritical or superstitious.
We are not trying to find prayers that “work” we are praying to God because He IS God and through Christ He has done the most important work.