This weekend we had stake conference. Elder Parmley of the Seventy presided. He spoke of the need to pray always in our hearts, and spoke of his own efforts to do so while practicing medicine. It's not clear to me that the kind of “prayer” we can have in our hearts continually is the same kind of prayer we utter vocally (or even silently, but formally). The latter seems to require a focus and mindfulness (discussed somewhat in my post on Vain Repetitions) that we cannot have while doing other things that require our attention.
Is the “prayer in our hearts” similar to driving a car: something that occupies a portion of our attention, but at a level that allows us to focus on other things until we need to focus back on what we are doing “automatically?” If so, is it really prayer? If I carry on a conversation without paying full attention to the other person (something I am, unfortunately, wont to do), it is impolite and perhaps unethical. Is this not the case with “auto-pilot” prayer?
Or is this kind of prayer more a “way-of-being-in-the-world:” an attitude and a tendency to think of God before other things? If so, how is it connected to formal prayer in which we are focused on a conversation with God?