Chazal tell us, “If a person does not make his tefillah keva (set), then they cannot be considered prayers.” Rav Hoshia says this means that he recites his tefillos in a way that implies ridding himself of the obligation. The Chachamim explain that that this refers to praying without tachanunim (supplications).
The halachah accepts both understandings. Therefore, a person should try and avoid praying in a frame of mind of “getting things over with” (Shulchan Aruch 93,1). In addition, he should intone the supplications at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (Elokai Netzor) with heartfelt feeling, adding some of his own entreaties (Shulchan Aruch 98,3).
We can comprehend the more profound significance of this halachah by visualizing someone who must appear before a king. This person realizes that his life is on the line, and he needs to be focused and to speak with emotion. If he recognizes the urgency of the situation he will definitely not attempt to run off after a curt exchange.
Today’s attention span has dwindled, and we are no longer so adept at conducting a focused conversation. These two halachos are crucial to ensure successful communication with Hashem. Preparing ourselves before, during and after prayer, can help us gain the composure and state of mind needed to approach the King of kings.
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org