For me Prayer is communicating with God. Expressing to Him what the situation is that I am facing at that time. I don't always have the right words to formulate the true meaning of my feelings, However I trust Jesus in his advice that it is not the choice or amount of words that I use, but the emotion that is stemming from my heart that God hears.
I do not feel that it is a one-way street that believers can just ask God for what they want in a form of a wish list for Santa Claus. I believe it is a two-way street and if I am starting a conversation by speaking to God, I need to also take the time to listen to His prompting of my heart as a response.
I have had several experiences of the one you described. Some members of my church have noticed or sensed that something was troubling me and suggested that I pray about it. I find listening to God's response is included when it is suggested to me that perhaps I should pray to God about what is troubling to me. I need to take the time to quiet my mind and listen for promptings from God. This can be the most difficult part.
If you feel that members of your congregation are just flippantly using "Spiritual Catch Phrases" to make themselves appear to be helpful, caring, compassionate, etc.. perhaps you would do well to go church shopping and find a parish or group of Christians that are more humble.
There have been times that well meaning church friends have made suggestions to me that I was just not in the frame of mind to accept. Just because someone else has not experienced the same type of hardships does not completely discount his or her attitude of compassion for their fellow brothers and sisters.
My 2cents worth
When the pain of remaining the same finally outweighs the pain of change---things will begin.... life is meant to be enjoyed not endured.