I've quoted it before, but it bears repeating:
Communication is a crucial element in any intimate relationship--including a relationship with God. And communication always involves listening.(emphasis mine)
Jesus understood this. Nowhere do we see the importance of communication with the Father better illustrated than in the life of Christ. In fact, Jesus' time alone with the Father was His ultimate priority. It took priority over ministry, family, friends, even sleep. Jesus refused to allow the tyranny of the urgent or the expectations of others to shape His agenda and schedule. As strange as it may sound, He put His own spiritual welfare ahead of the spiritual and physical welfare of others. He knew He would be of no help to them otherwise.
Jesus came to do the will of the Father. But in order to do the will of the Father, He had to know the will of the Father. That's why Jesus made it a priority to spend time alone with God--to know the One who sent Him. -- Stanley and Hall, The 7 Checkpoints
This past Sunday my roommate, Jason (who is a bit older than me), became an elder at his church (I'm a member of the church that originally planted his church). Pursuant to the rules of the PCA church, he spent a long time in training, preparation, prayer, and examination by the elders / pastors of the church. He told me that there was a common theme to what almost everyone of the people who examined / advised him brought up: when you take a position of great responsibility like that of elder, you invariably find that your temptations increase as Satan begins to fight harder against your spiritual growth and influence over others. Naturally the response to such temptations is to pursue more passionately the critical communication with the Father that we find in prayer.
Christ, more than any other person, realized that this was the response to the most grave of temptations, and pursued time alone to pray as a paramount necessity. He walked away from the needy masses, from the wondering disciples, from the rest of humanity, showing them the ultimate example of a right relationship with the Father. You might say it was the only selfish thing he ever did.
If you claim the name of Christ and are seeking to develop a deeper relationship with him, to change your life in response to the gift of life he gave, there is perhaps no better spiritual thermometer than your prayer life. Do you find yourself actually yearning for more time in prayer? Or do you find yourself struggling to work any time at all for it into a busy life? For myself, at least, these can be very discouraging questions to be asked.
But your prayer life can also be one of the best thermostats to your walk with God. With the smallest movement of that tiny dial, you change the temperature of a whole house. We're no different - great change comes from even the shortest of believing prayers. Its our inability to have faith in this fact that often tempts us to relegate prayer to a non-vital role in our lives.
If your prayer life isn't where it should be, I suggest a simple start: don't even bother praying for the time to pray. An infinite God was never very big on time in the first place, existing without any need of the concept. Instead, just start by praying that God would give you the desire to pray. Its the desire that will help you make the time. This prayer works for those who don't pray at all just as it works for those in regular communication with God - its one that God longs to hear and answer.
Prayer - secret, fervent, believing prayer - lies at the root of all personal godliness. - William Carey
To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ. - Richard Foster
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. - Ephesians 6:18