The mindset for prayer is referred to as kavanah, which is generally translated as "concentration" or "intent." The minimum level of kavanah is an awareness that one is speaking to G-d and an intention to fulfill the obligation to pray. If you do not have this minimal level of kavanah, then you are not praying; you are merely reading or just making noise. You must know and understand what you are praying about and that you think about the meaning of the prayer.
Whenever I travel, I want to know always where is the east, or where is the Middle East, or just where is Israel located from my local position. If I am not certain which direction is east, I must opt for the backup plan: praying directly to my Father in Heaven.
Our rabbis taught: A blind man or one who cannot tell direction should direct his heart toward his Father in Heaven, as it says, And they will pray to the Eternal (1 Kings 8:44). If he is standing outside the Land, he should direct his heart (כיון לבו) toward the Land of Israel, as it says, And pray to you by way of (דרך) their land Ibid. v. 48). If he stands in the Land of Israel, he should direct his heart towards Jerusalem, as it says, And they pray to the Eternal by way of (דרך) the city that you have chosen (Ibid. v. 44). If he stands in Jerusalem he should direct his heart toward the Sanctuary, as it says, If they pray toward this house (2 Chron. 6:32). If he stands in the Sanctuary, he should direct his heart toward the chamber Holiest Place, as it says, They pray toward this place (1 Kgs 8:35). If he stands in the chamber of the Holiest Place, he should direct his heart toward the ark cover. If he stands behind the ark cover, he should see himself as if he were in front of the ark cover. Consequently if he stands in the east he should turn his face toward the west; if in the west he should turn his face toward the east; if in the south he should turn his face toward the north; if in the north he should turn his face toward the south. [In this way] all Israel are found directing their (מכוונין לבם) heart toward one place. (Bavli Berachot 30a)
Prayer is directional. Kavanah is as integral to prayer as the words themselves. Prayer and worship needs to be performed exactly as commanded, with the proper intentions, kavanah and love that HaShem demands of us.
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