Our Gemara on Amud Aleph continues the discussion of Hekdesh Taus, the idea that a consecration that is made in error can still be valid. There is a lovely Chassidish Vort on this idea from Sefer Ramasayim Tzofim (Siman 1). Though we do not pasken Hekdesh Taus remains consecrated, even Bais Hillel admits that it is true under certain circumstances. Such as, erroneously declaring the ninth or eleventh animal as tithed, or in the law of Temurah, that a consecrated sacrificial animal is forbidden to be exchanged for another, even superior animal (Vayikra 27:33), and when exchanged, both the original animal and the exchanged animal remain sanctified.
This idea can be applied to prayer as well. Rabbi Shmuel of Sieniawa maintains this is the attitude we should have toward prayer that one was unable to apply proper concentration. Just as the erroneous sanctification still has effect, so too we can say in regard to prayers that were recited without concentration.
Being alone with thoughts of the Infinite and Divine arouses incredible subconscious anxiety. The loss of self and powerlessness is one of the hardest aspects of trying to connect to the Divine. Prayer is a demanding activity that can take years of personal training to learn how to do with proper focus and intent. Like any form of personal development, it is a process and best done gradually. If a person wants to improve his or her prayer, it is helpful to start with small attainable goals. Consider focusing on one paragraph or even one sentence over a few days’ worth of prayer, and then to gradually increase the number of prayers said in that manner.
While the Litvak in me scoffs at the idea that a prayer said without concentration can have much value, hopefully in Heaven, they pasken according to the Ramsayim Tzofim.