Prayer Skills: Alshich: The Power of Intention
The 13th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe ben Chaim Alshich (1508-1593) [others say 1522-1570]. Born in Adrianople, Turkey, student of Rav Yosef Karo in Adrianople and Rav Taitatzak in Salonica. Toras Moshe. His students included Rav Chaim Vital and Maharitatz (Rav Yom Tov ben Moshe Tzahalon). He became a member of the Beis Din in Tzefas and is buried in Tzefas.
There are times that a person prays and his thoughts float here and there to nonsensical things. He does not miss a single letter of his prayer. He bows when he is supposed to, however he is unaware of what he is saying.
How can he possibly form the words and form the letters with his mouth if his mind is somewhere else? Who reminded him to bow at certain points if his mind is in an entirely different place?
His ability to articulate the words and to remember to bow at the proper times is derived from the fact that he set his mind to pray; that intention empowers him to speak even when he loses his awareness. It is that intention which reminds him to bow when he should.
Therefore it is essential that he focus on his intention before he begins to pray so that intention will empower his words even when his mind wanders. (Alshich HaKadosh: Kohelet 1:5)