The rabbi asked us to expound on the above question for our class tonight:
Prayer has innumerable purposes, many of which I have yet to experience or even name. When I do pray, I do so for my family, my friends, the world and usually myself. Most of the time when I pray, I also express thanks for everything I have been given.
I only pray when I feel the express need. I'm out of daily practice and I have been for years. Therefore, my prayers are often to ask G-d or whomever it is for something in particular and not to have a conversation, which I'm sure I should aspire to.
So let's take a leap and assume I have a daily interactive time with G-d. If that was the case, what should I be praying for? Myself? On one hand, I think sure, why not? If we don't seek help for ourselves, sometimes no one else will. On the other, doesn't G-d know exactly what we need? Then why do we need to expressly ask?
On that same vein, doesn't G-d know what everybody needs? So why pray for others either? Obviously that logic is flawed, because if that was your prayer philosophy there would be no point in praying for anything.
I believe we can pray for ourselves, because sometimes just seeking solace gives us solace. If I pray for myself to grow stronger, then maybe it will be enough for me to help myself and in turn be strong enough to help others.
I guess I see the purpose of prayer as a way to bring more faithful into the fold. It would do a disservice to that goal by giving guidelines and prescribing set rules. If praying for yourself helps bring you closer to G-d, then who are we to reinforce a barrier?