True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.
This resounds with what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
The Message translation captures it this way:
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Sometimes the only words we can get out are expressed by the Spirit of God in us:
When we cry “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . . (Rom 8.15–16).
The Weight of Prayer
Jesus illustrates the weight of prayer when He told this parable:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
This short, humble prayer has come to be known over the millennia as The Jesus Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.