by Rabbi David Sapirman
The Gemora relates that when the students of Rabbi Eliezer came to visit him prior to his demise, they said to him, "Master! Teach us the ways of life with which we can merit Olam Haba (the World to Come)." In essence, what they were asking him was to give them the quick recipe to merit Olam Haba. After all, there was no time left for lengthy conversations. He responded with three pieces of advice.
One was, "When you daven, know before whom you stand." This is a key to merit our share in the Afterlife, if we will only bear in mind that we stand in the presence of Hashem. Three times daily, we recite our tefillos. We really don't need to tell Hashem what we need or what we want. He already knows all that. He is also not flattered by the praises that we offer, for He is way above such things. What, then, is the purpose of our prayers? There is really no question here at all.
The most important thing about davening is to remember that there is Someone listening
The purpose of our tefillos is to create in ourselves an awareness of His existence, His all encompassing ability, and our total dependence on Him for everything in our lives. Tefillah is not a soda machine, where we insert a coin and out rolls a can of soda. There are no guarantees that our requests will be fulfilled, although they surely sometimes are. However, even when they are not, if we have davened properly, the main goal of tefillah has been achieved.
Our Siddur keeps all Jews unified. Three times every day, Yidden all over the world say the same exact tefillos, no matter where they live. Not only do the tefillos unify all Jews, they also inspire us with all Jewish values. The Men of the Great Assembly wove into the fabric of the prayers all the principles of Emunah (faith), the glorious history of our people, and the miraculous destiny that awaits us. We often mention Yetzias Mitzrayin (the Exodus), the ten plagues, and the splitting of the Red Sea. We ask repeatedly for the long-awaited era of Moshiach, along with Olam Haba and T‘chiyas Hamaisim (resurrection of the dead).
If we pay attention to what we are saying, we can live a life of real belief and trust in Hashem . People that keep mitzvos but don't think about these things are robbed of the sweetness of what a Torah life really is. We have all of this waiting for us right here in the Siddur. The most important thing about davening is to remember that there is someone listening. Although the Ribono shel Olam does not speak to us, He is listening to all our brachos (blessings) and tefillos. "When you daven, know before Whom you stand!"