By Rabbi Shmuel Waldman
The חובות הלבבות in the third chapter of שער חשבון הנפש , in חשבון ט’, after he talks at length about the importance of having concentration when davening to Hashem, towards the end of that חשבון he says the following amazing (unknown) point: He expresses shock and wonder at how it is possible for anyone not to realize how important it is to have real kavana, real concentration during davening. (At least during Shemoneh Esrei.) He calls Tefilla a DEPOSIT given to us by Hashem!! A deposit is something that the depositor trusts that you will watch over it carefully and use the item carefully when allowed to use it. The חובות הלבבות says that Hashem is trusting us with his precious item called Tefilla, so it must be “used properly” by saying our Tefillos with Kavana,. He writes in the second to last paragraph of Cheshbon 9:
ומן התימה שהתפלה אצלך אמונת הבורא ופקדונו כי מסר בידך ענינה ונתנה ברשותך לא ישקיף עליה זולתו
It is a wonder, (that anyone should even consider not having proper concentration while praying to Hashem) when prayer is a “trust” [given to you] from Hashem, and a “deposit” the Creator entrusted you with, since we see that He has given it over into your hands and into your domain. No one can watch over us [how we do or do not use Tefilla properly] except for Hashem [since kavana is all in the mind, and no one else but Hashem can see if we are truly concentrating or not, so Hashem is trusting we will utilize the opportunity to have proper concentration when praying to Him]
ואלו תתפלל אותה כמו שצוה הבורא יתברך, יצאת ידי חובות האמונה, ויקבלנה ממך הבורא,
So, if you will pray like the Creator commanded, (with proper concentration) then you will have fulfilled your “duty of faithfulness”, and He will accept it [your prayers] from you.
ואם לא תהיה נאמן בה בלבך ובלשונך, תהיה בחזקת הקובעים (לשון של מעילה וגניבה) אותו באמונתו
But if you are not faithful in it, in your heart and tongue, you will be considered among those who betray / steal the trust G-d placed on you
ואמר הכתוב בהם (דברים לב כ)ויאמר, אסתירה פני מהם, אראה מה אחריתם כי דור תהפוכות המה, בנים לא אמון בם
And the verse in the Torah says as follows: (Devorim 32:20) I will hide My face from them, and see what will be their end, they are a generation that easily changes, Children whom I cannot trust.
ואמר באנשי האמונית, הנוהגים בהן כמשפטן וכדיניהם (תהלים קא:ו) עיני בנאמני ארץ לשבת עמדי.
While for those who are faithful, who conduct themselves according to the laws (of proper Tefilla, which are many) the verse says: “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me” (Tehilim 101:6).
In the sefer Sharie Tzion from the former Mashgiach in Ponevitz yeshiva, Horav Hagoan Rav Ben Zion Bamberger ZT”L, on page 186, without mentioning this Chovos Halevuvos, (But I am 99.99% sure that he had this Chovos Halevuvos in mind when he wrote it) he explains as follows. He mentions that not having kavana during Tefilla is a form of betrayal and disloyalty to Hashem. Why? Besides for the brazenness of the lack of kavana while speaking directly to Hashem and not having kavana, there’s a completely different issue at hand. He explains that Hashem is trusting us with this “deposit” of Tefilla that he expects us to use properly. What is the “thing” that Hashem is trusting us with? It’s the great responsibility of partnering with Hashem in running the world through PROPER Tefilla! Hashem made the mechanism of Tefilla to be able to accomplish amazing things in the Upper Heavens. Hashem has given us our Neshamos which have GREAT COLLOSAL POWERS way beyond our wildest imagination. It has Atomic power, and a big part of those powers can and SHOULD be utilized through proper Tefilla. Proper Tefilla can bring amazing spiritual light and influences in the Upper spiritual worlds (which then boomerangs back down to our world) and HASHEM is relying on us to use those powers to bring these great spiritual rectifications. Not having kavana is a betrayal of the trust that Hashem gave us when he gave us this powerful instrument of Tefilla to be used properly. This is something to contemplate greatly and hopefully will help bring us to make a serious improvement in our kavana.
To add to this, I would humbly suggest that the Chovos Halevavos may also have meant that Tefilla is a deposit of a mechanism that will bring the person who davens properly, very close to Hashem and it helps fulfil many other mitzvos that will bring Holiness to the mispallel as well, and not having kavana misses out on all the holiness and perfection that Hashem wanted us to gain from proper Tefilla. This is absolutely a major purpose that Hashem had in mind when he gave us the mitzva of Tefilla, and not having kavana, is throwing away all these great opportunities, and that causes Hashem to be upset at us, Kaviyuchol. Hashem gave us life to accomplish great spiritual accomplishments and Tefilla with kavana is a very important way to gain these accomplishments.