When we are praying we need to know who we are addressing the prayer to. Just like when we are writing a letter or calling someone, we need to first know who we are writing the letter to or who we are trying to reach with our phone. In the same manner, when we are about to pray, we need to first make a conscious effort who it is that we are about to talk to because we’re not praying to just anybody. And this process of making a conscious effort with our mind before praying is what I would like to call “preconditioning before praying.” Listen to what Martyn Lloyd-Jones said about this:
We tend to be so self-centered in our prayers that when we drop on our knees before God, we think only about ourselves and our troubles and perplexities. We start talking about them at once, and of course nothing happens… That is not the way to approach God. We must pause before we speak in prayer… There is a sense in which every man when he begins to pray to God should put his hand upon his mouth… Just stop for a moment and remind yourself of what you are about to do… It is just this realization of our relationship to God that we so sadly lack… Prayer means speaking to God, forgetting ourselves, and realizing His presence [Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2 volumes (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1993), 2:51-52].
The point is we need to make a serious and conscious effort before prayer that we are about to engage in spiritual dialogue with someone who is absolutely holy and absolutely almighty, namely, God! Did you get that? Before making any utterance with our mouth, we need to first think and realize that we are about to talk to someone who is capable to destroy both soul and body in hell! (Matthew 10:28). That puts praying in such a radical perspective that for many professing Christians in churches today, such concept is a foreign idea. But I would argue that it is a desperately needed idea because it is absolutely biblical. Martyn Lloyd-Jones further said:
When you come to God, says our Lord, in effect, even though you may be in desperate conditions and circumstances, it may be with some great concern on your mind and in your heart; even then, He says, stop for a moment and just recollect and realize this, that your greatest desire of all should be that this wonderful God, who has become your Father in and through Me, should be honored, should be worshipped, should be magnified amongst the people [Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2 volumes (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1993), 2:61].