by Reb Aharon Rubin, from Eye to the Infinite, shared with permission.
We start our prayers with this because it contains the three qualities necessary for genuine prayer:
▪ Awareness of G-d;
▪ Humility [thanking G-d and agreeing with the truth]; 
▪ Truth and sincerity – speaking with heart and mind in unity.
Awareness of G-d, humility before His Presence and speaking with sincerity, lead to a real experience of the Divine. The first step is to know one stands before G-d. Prayer, says the holy Zohar, is not just glib supplication. Neither is it just a meditation on G-d. It is an opportunity to come close to G-d, to enter His Palace. The initial emotion, therefore, should be יראה – Yir’oh, awe that results from an awareness of His Presence.
ולשוואה רעותיה בההוא אתר דאקרי יראה – “Set your focus, desire and yen on that place called ‘awe’ [yir’oh],” says the Zohar. Awe leads to hachno’oh, subjugation and humility. This humility automatically leads to a separation from the physical, havdoloh, which in turn gives rise to pure truth and deveikuth – hamtoqoh (‘sweetening’), the three stages outlined by the Ba’al Shem Tov.
Focusing on G-d increases the level of Divine Presence before you. With emotional awareness, you make a new covenant with G-d, bonding your soul with the Divine Presence.
G-d resides where man removes his ego for Him. That is what awareness is about. It is making a sanctuary for G-d in our heart, a place of boundaries, separated from the outside world and one’s own ego-driven desires.
 The word מודה modeh implies agreement and thankfulness.
 This excerpt from Tanna D’vei Eliyohu can itself be used as a meditation: either by repeating the phrase, or by meditating on the words or on their ideas, or by meditating on the letters, manipulating them and their gematrias. For example, the words “ירא שמים yerei Shomayim – one who fears Heaven” [i.e. is strongly conscious of] can be used as a meditation. Slowly repeat the words “ירא שמים yerei Shomayim – one who fears Heaven”. This will bring the message inherent in these words, and your consciousness, to the level of the subconscious. Rabbi Avrohom Abulafia says that by repeating a phrase, hitherto unknown facets of meaning will become apparent. Alternatively, one can work with gematrias. For example, “ירא שמים yerei Shomayim” has the same gematriah as “מודה על האמת modeh ul hoemeth – agreeing with the truth”, indicating that fear of Heaven is connected at a core level with being in harmony with truth.
Meditating on the ideas, one might see that the three elements included in this phrase correspond to the three daily prayers, or to the three forefathers, etc. This is another way to deepening your awareness.
 See Zohar I, 11b, also Vol. II, 202b.
 Akin to the sages’ maxim, “דע לפני מי אתה עומד – Know before Whom you stand,” see Brochoth 29b, Esther Rabboh 1:1, Pirqei Ovoth, 2:14.