The first step to every inner intention is to clearly understand the words of the prayer book.
Listening to the words one says, on the most basic level, is the foundation for inner listening.
Only when one hears the words, can he hear also what lies beyond the words.
The notion of “understanding the words” can be defined on many levels.
But it surely contains the simple notion of understanding the plain meaning of the words.
This is what separates one who understands a language from one who does not.
And when one does not understand the language, he cannot hope that prayer will have an effect on a higher level of intention.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz