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Right at the beginning of the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, siman 1, it says that it is better to pray a little with kavannah (proper concentration?) than more without. I don't know that anyone argues. I also don't see it put into practice in many places where I might have applied it.
The Rambam (Hil. Tefillah 4(14)) says pretty clearly that we should not daven at all without kavannah, and if we did, go back and pray again. But, later authorities seem to tone it down - after all, we don't have so much kavannah anyhow.
That is pretty much the answer I have gotten when I asked, say: I'm really tired. Maybe I should sleep instead of going to shul for maariv, and hope I get up in time to daven later. No, no! Go to shul now and do the best you can.
Maybe I should say less of Pesukei D'zimrah? No, no! Birkas Krias Shema - are you nuts?
Anyhow, when Slichos comes around I really struggle. Do I have kavannah for more, or am I just stretching the kavannah I have much thinner? By the time I get to Hodu I'm frequently exhausted [I do have health issues with fatigue]. What should one do? "How can you think of skipping prayers at a critical time like the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah?!"
Also, what if a person can follow with the words, and pays attention, but is past the point of enjoying what's happening? He might have felt more inspired if he had said less. Does that play a role?
I'm asking for sources for practical rulings, but also advice on the right attitude.

Update: On re-reading, I don't want the impression that the question is based on my physical situation, as if I'm tired all the time. The real question is more based on a mental weariness, on one's ability to "hold kop", the point where one feels prayers turning into mechanical reading without really paying attention.

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    "I don't know that anyone argues" - R. Hutner was known to say, טוב מעט בלא כונה מהרבה בלא כונה
    – wfb
    Sep 13 at 22:21
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    If given free reign, many people would underestimate their ability to perform at prayer and skip too much. The people pressuring you to show up are making sure that the middle ground you end up at doesn't sell yourself short.
    – Double AA
    Sep 13 at 23:32
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    Worth noting as well that the question of what the tzibbur skips is different from what individuals may skip.
    – Double AA
    Sep 13 at 23:33
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    Rambam also rules (Hilchot Tefilla 5:2) that one is not allowed to pray if hungry, so one must eat before praying in the morning. However, this logic is not extended to being tired! Perhaps this is due to the concern outlined by Double AA above?
    – Tesvov
    Sep 14 at 3:04
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    @MichoelR "no one has told me yet to be late because I think I'll daven better without [peskukei d'zimrah]" If coming at the published start time doesn't leave you enough time to say everything at your pace, then telling you to come at that start time is effectively equivalent to telling you to come late.
    – Double AA
    Sep 14 at 15:48
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This is not a direct answer to your question but it's worth mentioning here for any readers. I have a Rambam "Siddur" that has every prayer needed for every Jewish event and it all fits into one book. But if you hand this siddur to an average Jew today they will marvel at all the prayers that are "missing." However, the reality is that most of the prayers that we take for granted as being necessary are often recent additions and aren't really required. Even such "standard prayers" like Modeh Ani weren't considered essential even in the time of the Shulchan Arukh. Rambam's son famously complained that people didn't have the proper Kawwanah for the Amidah (required prayer) because they were up all night doing dirges/selihot which aren't required at all.

Based on this I've advised friends who struggle with having enough Kawwanah for prayers to spend time finding out what prayers are actually required vs recent additions/recommendations. Because it's certainly possible that they (or you) have enough proper concentration for the required prayers, but maybe not for all the additions that fill many siddurs nowadays.

When praying alone I use the Rambam siddur or a similar Yemenite siddur so that way I can focus on my prayer and not have to spend mental energy filtering everything else out. I reserve my Sephardic and Ashkenazic siddurs to be used when I'm at synagogue.

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