"When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7).
Few spiritual practices can more direct us to God than the blessed gift of prayer. And few practices can more direct us to a fleshly focus on ourselves. Indeed, we may one day discover that in sheer volume of words, the heathen did more praying in human history than did the holy.
Quality far surpasses quantity in the matter of prayer. One word cried in humility, sincerity and genuine devotion - "Lord!" - may bear more weight with God than a thousand uttered from lesser motivations. True prayer concerns the heart far more than the mind and lips. Genuine relationship with our Heavenly Father emphasizes motivation rather than manner. Why we pray is more important than what we pray. "The Lord looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).
Certainly much prayer will characterize the experience of those who walk with God. As we grow in our Biblical understanding, we will also pray more intelligently and effectually. However, we must never succumb to the temptation to think that we shall be heard for our much speaking. True communion with the Lord emphasizes Him rather than ourselves. An ongoing sense of wonder that He desires fellowship with us should and must accompany our determination to pray. We also do well to often consider the price whereby access to God was made possible to those who believe. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus... let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:19; 22). Such sensibilities will go far in exchanging "vain repetitions" with seriously pondered expressions of love, faith, devotion and reality. And in the long run, we may find ourselves praying more because we have devoted ourselves to the quality of our prayers rather than their quantity.
"Be ye therefore sober (of a sound mind), and watch unto prayer."
(I Peter 4:7)