The current pope wrote these comments, and I thought they captured my thoughts well.
"37. It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change GOd's plans or correct what he has foreseen. Rather, he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. An authentically religious attitude prevents man from presuming to judge God, accusing him of allowing poverty and failing to have compassion for his creatures. When people claim to build a case against God in defense of man, on whom can they depend when human activity proves powerless."
One more thing.
In Thomas's words, God grants us the DIGNITY OF CAUSALITY. That is, God wants something done. So he puts it in the mouths of his people to ask that it gets done. Then by asking according to God's will, God will do it. If people do not ask what He gives them to ask, He has chosen to not simply do it without them. That is, as a rule, according to the default way that God has chosen to relate to us.